Defender of the Living Room: Playmates 16″ 2018 Legendary Defender Voltron

Classis Legendary Lion voltron 84 Playmates 2018 group shot

So I’m not a VOLTRON fan.

Shocking, I know.

Never owned a toy, or watched the show really.

But I was browsing the local toy section as I do every week at BIG W, and they had the Votlron Netflix show Lionbot thing, and I put em on layby after watching some video reviews on the tube. Big Thanks Retro Blasting Channel, you make getting out of bed worthwhile!

I can’t resist a great toy.

The next week, a mate online posted about the OTHER Playmates 2018 Voltron set, this one based on the classic 1984 Voltron. Some were in stock at Toys ‘r Us, but usually NOT in my state. Because it’s West Australia, basically a desert and sometimes shops.

I called up my local-ish TRU (like 45-60 min drive away) and what do you know!

They had them in stock. So I drove over and bought them right away. Except I ordered two online (also from TRU) that morning. But it worked out, I got the Black Lion / Torso Bot Voicus Extremus online, plus one limb, then bought all FOUR limbs in store.

Classis Legendary Lion voltron 84 Playmates 2018

Online TRU orders in OZ are a random pick for the limb bots, and one double is not too high a price to pay for getting all the five bots.

Anyhow, I put a layby on the modern Netflix style Legendary Defender Voltron, and picked up these Classic Voltron 84 ones in person.

Later on, oh say about a week, the online bots arrived, and it was TIME TO COMBINE!

Classis Legendary Lion voltron 84 Playmates 2018 16 inch.JPG

This bastard is a nice 16″ tall, close to 18″/20″ if you count his backpack wings.

The deco is bright primary colors, grey on the limbs, some silver on the chest and belly. It’s a nice animation style deco. If you’re a premium collector, it’s no $600 Chogokin aftermarket Voltron that’s for sure. But what it is, is a nice sturdy strong plastic very poseable and stable combiner, for around $200 (AUD).

In sheer shelf presence, Playmates Voltron just can’t be beat for that budget price. It’s bright, fun, poseable and oh…..it say’s FIFTY crisp audio clips from the show. Well, more like it SHOUTS them at you in some very clear audio samples, that even your Mrs can hear from the other end of the house when she’s trying to apply for jobs or watch funny cat videos.

Classis Legendary Lion voltron 84 Playmates yellow lion 2018

The boxes are a nice attractive package. Above is Classic Legendary Yellow Lion from the “Voltron 84” set. To the left is the Legendary Defender Yellow Lion aka NETFLIX Voltron Yellow Lion. The classic 84 set has that cubey boxy look which I love, while the Netflix set has cats that are much more like actual organic skeletal animals, (and more poseable in animal mode) rather than super robots. I’ll do a post on that set once the Black Lion arrives in the mail from Amazon, as it’s almost im-fucking-possible to find in this country.

Below is the Voltron 84 Playmates Black Lion, and I REALLY dig that box design man. You’ve got Voltron in the top corner, that classic logo, his big ass sword, some spacey grid shit that makes me think of both the Transformers movie and the old SEGA game console covers. Not to mention TRON, you can’t go wrong with a spacey glowy grid thing in my book. And you know The Good Book Of John is triple silver gold foil embossed with 3D graphics and glowy space shit flying at you while Synthwave music bleeds into your ears faster than light at a million decibels.

Classis Legendary Lion voltron 84 Playmates 2018 black lion lights and sound

Below is the back of the box for the Legendary Yellow Lion. They show off his features, accessories and combining feature quite nicely. This might seem both obvious and redundant, but as a Transformers collector – I really appreciate they they designed this box so well as Hasbro Transformers toy boxes are shithouse. They don’t advertise their features well, they don’t tell you half the time which toys to get to form a combiner, their instructions are next to useless.

We live in an age of digital media mania, with almost unlimited access to graphic designers and their work and 1000’s of designs from the last 100+ years. Yet Hasbro churns out lazy uninspired shit year after year. Rant over, but fuck me, take a moment and look at how damn attractive that box is, EVERY toy package should look this good or BETTER. You done good Playmates!

Classis Legendary Lion voltron 84 Playmates yellow lion 2018 rear box

Below is Netflix Yellow Lion vs Old School 84 Yellow Lion both from Playmates, out a week apart from each other at my local stores, and a little Last Knight Squeaks in there for size comparison. Kind of a useless comparison really, I just like all the Mello Yello.

Classis Legendary Lion voltron 84 Playmates yellow lion 2018 comparison.JPG

What else does this Voltron toy do……some kind of thing…..oh YES……..

LIGHTS!~ AND SOUND~!  thew cartoon.jpg

 

Yes it’s true, This super-duper-mega-awesome Voltron is stuffed with lights and sound!

His chest lights up and he screams things at you, so many of the things until you have a headache and reach for that OFF switch.

Great video clips, great bot. And now I’m off to watch my Golion cartoon for the first ever time on my tablet (yes I’m a nerd and like to watch stuff in its native language). Feast your eyes once again on this behemoth of might, and strength, this retro-super robot of myth and legend and tremble before it’s stupendousness!

If you’re looking for a proper video review, and want to hear those awesome phrases I can recommend nothing better than the Retro Blasting Classic Playmates 2018 Review

I love that Youtube channel, and can’t enough of their great videos and podcast.

Classis Legendary Lion voltron 84 Playmates 2018 16 inch close large
VOLTRON! Defender of the Living Room

 

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I’ll catch that Toy For Ye – The Head, the Tail and Everything in Between

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Some collectibles end up on a nice shelf display, cabinet or whatever.

But what about all the stuff in boxes and storage tubs?

The things squirreled away in big ugly piles…..

that you don’t want anyone to know about? HUH?

Your SECRET COLLECTORS SHAME!

Yeah I know what you get up you, the skeletons are coming out…

What about Everything in Between?

 

GOD BLESS THIS MESS

I’ve got this lovely lot sorted below just how I want them.

cartoon toys disney afternoon 90s tmnt

But meanwhile on the floor below is this lovely mess…

NECA TMNT 1990 Movie box (I don’t want to lose the hands and accessories in the storage tubs), yet to be made Mega Bloks Technodrome (waiting on getting another shelf to put it on).

mess 1

Plus random boxes shoved on top for no good reason.

I’m forever sorting out collectibles and boxes and places to put things and ugh! Just when I get a nice display sorted, the aftermath is boxes and things, or new stuff arriving that takes up the temporary space on the floor that I just sorted out.

I put up my TMNT NICK sewer playset thing… after it sat on the lounge floor for a couple months.

sampler tmnt 1

sampler tmnt 3

sampler tmnt 2

But the price to pay is more shit on the floor.

Poor batman!

Not to mention boxed Platinum Unicron, POTP Grimlock and one lonely Foot Soldier still in the NECA animated style TMNT box set. Plus my refugee books that used to live in the book shelf now occupied by bloody toys.

mess 2

I’ve re-arranged my Mega Bloks mini shelf to make room for the Raph set that came with Doom inspired Spider-Brain Krang (bright orange below) and I’m pretty happy with the new layout.

mega mega mega shelf1

Shredder has taken the Bat-Mecha, he’s next to Krang and the classic Party Wagon – pay no attention to who is driving…

mega mega mega shelf2

But below that on the floor…

Yup, another big pile of crap.

mess 3

The comics are on the shelf, but the other stuff is piled up in front of it.

I swear every time I tidy up this spot and can see the floor again – it gets cluttered up again in only a few short weeks. If I could hire an assistant I would say “please sort out my boxes and storage tubs, I’m really sick of doing it. I am a lazy and pathetic human being, let me drop some trash on the floor just so you can pick it up”.

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I’ve had a fair bit or work related chronic back pain lately, so have done less sorting/tidying than usual. You won’t believe how much shit I moved around in recent months. Not just collectibles but other general stuff in the spare room. how many times I sorted and restacked it all. There is so only many times you can lift a big storage tub at head height with a sore back before you say ENOUGH, and give it all a good rest for a while.

Go rest against a wall for a bit.

Hang around out back and just chill.

Sell some Energon to kids.

autobot prostitutes

So, more messes to tidy. Another shelf yet to be – and then hopefully I will see the floor again. Can’t wait to get my Technodrome and Platinum Unicron on the shelf. And all four big NECA Movie turtles, it’s gonna look epic, awesome, grandiose! Or at least presentable.

unicron 2 800

On the top level will be a new Titan toy (well a redeco) and the amazing biggest ever Megatron action figure. More comics and books on the bottom shelf. Can’t wait.

PSYCHED!

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THE LOST TREASURES OF CYBERTRON – Production Materials from Transformers History PART#1: The Transformers 1986 Movie Storyboards

Transformers the movie_Storyboards_Sequence 001_0002

I love to look up obscure Transformers memorabilia, production documents, cel sheets, comic book art, storyboards and other cool junk.

I’ll never own any of it, these things are out of my price range as a collector, and prices have only gotten more crazy high over the last decade or so.

While it’s great on one level that certain kinds of stuff is out there if you want to hunt for it – on the other hand the way a lot of this material makes its way into collections can be dubious.Transformers the movie_Storyboards_Sequence 001 Unicron planet close up

Production materials find way into the world through unofficial channels – found in a dumpster, stolen by an ex employee, sold on ebay etc.

Sometimes we get a Jim Sorensen, who hunts out obscure material like the Hasbro/Sunbow TF model sheets, and has those model sheets and reference material turned into books for everyone to enjoy. But not many people have that kind of passion, dedication and community spirit.

Transformers the movie_Storyboards_Sequence 001_0001

Other times someone obtains some rare and unique production materials – and it remains in their collection for good and that is the end of it (well until they die, or sell it on ebay I guess). Sometimes it’s a public piece, and people hear about it – other times its a private deal for something *rumored* to even exist at all.

THE SELF-PRESERVATION SOCIETY

I’m the kind of person that if I had my hands on some obscure reference material such as productions scripts, story boards, cel sheets, sketches, art etc – I would scan and upload them for people to enjoy. Although this sort of stuff can sell for some serious money, to me they have no actual value in dollars. Their true value is in their IDEAS and history of the Transformers brand itself. These are cheap disposable material, easily replicated in digital format. I mean you can’t do that with say a production prototype, I’m really talking about flat words and pictures here. And I’m talking explicitly about pre and production material here, not stolen comic book art or anything like that (that should be returned to its true owner where possible).

Transformers the movie_Storyboards_Sequence unicron1a

The upside with reproductions and facsimiles of production material is that everyone gets to enjoy them, and anyone into the history and lore of Transformers media can then at least use those digital files for writing and reference etc, as well as the aesthetic enjoyment. If no book exists, you could at least in theory print out some things for your own reference.

We will never have a true Transformers Museum, so it’s up to fans to preserve the history of the hobby. HASBRO has often dropped the ball in this regard, when it comes to the history of the brand – they are often clueless or just don’t care (with rare exception when there is a buck to be made) and leave a lot of the preservation to Takara.

blaster blasting at you ravage

The downside of a scan of say a sketch or piece of art, at a high resolution – is that there is a small side industry of pirated materials that are turned into posters, tshirts etc and then sold on places like ebay. Some people make a profit from this sort of thing, often from China or countries where the laws around copyright are different, or ignored for corporate and intellectual property.

blaster blasting at you ravage kick

I’D BUY THAT FOR A DOLLAR!

Recently I was looking at some old ebay and Heritage auctions, including one that was for the movie production storyboards for the Transformers Movie (1986). I was amazed that such a thing had gotten into the hands of someone who was going to sell it.
To me that movie is somewhat sacred. It’s the source of many myths, lies and exaggerations in Transformers lore, the early drafts of the scripts, the various pre and post production changes that fans argue about what happened and why – I love it all.

hot rod fishing

There is a story about these storyboards and the various hands the original has passed through. I find it stupid that Hasbro didn’t keep it themselves (which is part of the story, you can look it up yourself if you like, it’s not what this post is about) – if they had it in their possession they could have been reprinted in a modern facsimile edition. Sure the market would be small, but it could have been print to order, or a limited run etc. And without someone dedicated working there to get a project like that going – it probably would never happen anyway.

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I FOUND THIS OUT THE BACK

But Hasbro are notoriously pretty awful about preserving anything from their Transformers history. Any to be fair most pre-digital materials like storyboards usually go in the dumpster. Most movie materials are considered a disposable part of pre-production. If film makers kept everything, studios would run out of space to store all that crap.

megatron crush you with my bare hands

I’m grateful that the Transformers 1986 Movie Storyboards were found again at all, rather than disappearing forever. But I feel a little sad that this piece of Transformers history was auctioned off like a piece of meat. The final price it sold for is kind of insane when you consider it’s just pieces of beat up black and white paper.

winning bid2 lots 16000

The storyboards and all versions of the script, would make a for an amazing coffee table book. To some fans a black and white book of scribbles, pen notes, script drafts and storyboards would be a bit bland. Sure, I get it. But throw some color images (Intro and Appendix) in there, add in a bit of commentary from people like Jim Sorensen and Chris McFeely and Flint Dille and it would really bring to life material that can be a bit dry. For me though, that shit is super exciting – it’s the ideas and raw material that formed so much of what we love.

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO BOB

Years back Bob Budianksy was at some convention or other and showed some of his original notes. Not computer files, not model sheets, not even full scripts.

Just plain ordinary notes on one dollar worth of paper. People loved it, it got them psyched up.  The material (the paper) was the most mundane thing you can imagine, worthless really. But the IDEAS on that paper… literally priceless if you look at all that has come after the fact.

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It makes me a little sad that the storyboards are not in some Transformers museum somewhere, as the storyboards are the first version of the movie, they are the (along with the various drafts of the script) the blueprints and the skeleton on which the finished theatrical film was built. I love that film about everything about it.

To me its a significant part of Transformers history and something to be preserved for all fans to enjoy. I don’t like that ONE fan somewhere in the world gets to enjoy it, and hoard it away.

Perhaps some people feel this way about toy prototypes? I don’t care about toy prototypes at all. However a high quality book of photos and commentary about that sort of thing is a book I would buy for sure. So maybe there are fans who say “so what, who gives a flying fuck about some dusty old scripts and storyboards?”

MY PRECIOUSSSSSSSSS!

It’s a strange thing in our culture where during the production of a TV show, movie etc, the materials used during production are considered disposable. Only years later with nostalgia, or a fandom that has grown around a certain media property that unexpectedly lasts – do we start craving these things like Gollum in lord of the rings.

Often production materials are found in the garbage. In some cases things from TV shows and movies are literally found in dumpsters and then go on to be sold for thousands of dollars. Props, bits of sets, screen worn clothing – all kinds of stuff. The floating barrels  from JAWS for example. Who could have ever predicted those would be valuable one day? Who would even think to keep them? Well somebody clearly did.

Me and the Useless Air Barrels Steven E. Belanger JAWS screen used
Blogger Stephen Belanger in front of screen used JAWS Barrels

Things are a little different in 2017 – there has never been a bigger after market for props and screen used production materials and related paraphernalia such as licensed high end toys and statues. Corporations have a big side business not just in licensed action figures and toys etc, but in selling off screen used props and materials. They are not just int the movie entertainment game, but the long running I.P. game.

The days of just finding super valuable things in dumpsters for free, are long gone (with rare exceptions) as more and more companies realize how valuable their I.P. is, and how fans are interested not just in the final product, and the story we are being told, but in the pre-production, production and post-production process, the story BEHIND the story, the larger story you get to discover for yourself if you care to. And some rare fans get to own a little piece of movie history, a little piece of magic to marvel at.

Rodimus Prime arises

The proliferation of DVD/BD “extra features” over the last decade or two so has given us so much material that normally goes in the studio vault, the cutting room floor, on into the garbage. We get to see things previously only the director got to see. Discarded idea, things that didn’t work, alternate takes on things that did work.

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Creators never know which of their creations are going to take off and fly, and which are gong to crash and burn. Keeping every scrap, doodle, draft, and aborted stop-start take on an idea would be impractical. But it would also be a shame when the next Bugs Bunny, Batman or Optimus Prime comes along, and we don’t get to see the original art, or see the names they *almost* were called, or how some project that went on to spawn an empire, was nearly canned at the planning stages.

megatron reformatted by unicron

Whether toy box art, comic book original art, plans, documents and all the behind that scenes stuff that preceded The Transformers all adds up to interesting stuff in my book. The few scrappy remains we get to hear about today are mostly folks talking on podcasts, or the odd convention panel bit of trivia. Most of the old stuff is lost to the ravages of time and fallacious memory.

megatron reformatted into galvatron

IN THE BEGINNING

On the rare occasion we get to see an original document, or part of the creative process – it’s great when everyone gets to see it. For example Jim Shooter’s original treatment / outline for The Transformers fiction. Imagine if that was never transcribed and nobody got to see it. Fortunately any fan that cares to can devour that bit of text anytime they like, thanks to the transcribed text on various sites such the Transforming Seminarian blog – and Jim’s larger picture behind the scenes story told over two enthralling blog posts on his own website.

scourge and his sweeps

Jim Shooter’s Original Transformers Treatment (featured on Transforming Seminarian blog)

The Secret Origin of the TRANSFORMERS – Part 1

The Secret Origin of the TRANSFORMERS – Part 2

(featured on Jim Shooter blog)

Transformers The Movie 86 Storyboards
Transformers The Movie 86 Storyboards

While things like concept art and storyboards are common tools in film pre-production today, with the move to digital media for the majority of these materials  – pre-digital production materials become even more rare and potentially valuable.

The real value to me is not in any ebay auction of something dusty and forgotten relic for a silly price. The value to me is in the preservation of the material itself, so that it can be seen and understood by other people down the line, who may not even be born yet.

megatron and laserbeak

It’s only an animated film. It’s only a piece of 80’s entertainment about robots smashing shit up to sell toys. It’s only for kids.  It’s only the death of a icon. It’s only the transformation of another icon. It’s only the passing of a mantle and the birth of a new hero. It’s only non-stop rock and roll. It’s only a movie stuffed to the bursting seams with so many exciting ideas and new things. It’s only myth and magic in the modern day.

It’s only a movie, to be forgotten and lost to the ravages of time.

 

IMAGE CREDITS

*Picture of the original Transformers Movie Storyboards (pink folder) courtesy of The Space Bridge / Facebook website https://www.facebook.com/TheSpacebridge/

*JAWS Barrels image from Stephan Belanger blog

http://stevenebelanger.blogspot.com.au/2014/07/jaws-and-me.html

*Ebay Store listing screen cap of Storyboard Acution courtesy of ebay.com

*For items in The Space Bridge ebay store please visit:

http://stores.ebay.com/The-Spacebridge