Voltron zoomed onto American airwaves in 1984, during one of the geekiest periods in pop culture, alongside ‘G.I. Joe’, ‘Transformers’, ‘He-Man and the Masters of the Universe‘ and shortly before ‘Thundercats.’ Unlike those shows, ‘Voltron’ was one of the first anime series imported from Japan and translated for American audiences. Though a common trope in Japanese programming, this was one of the first times American audiences were introduced to the idea of a “super combiner” one large mecha composed to separate individual mechas and next to ‘Transformers’, ‘Go Bots’ and later ‘M.A.S.K.’, the idea of transforming mechanical devices that combined into one captured childhood audiences.
Thirty years later, a new deluxe hardcover book, ‘Voltron: From Days of Long Ago: A Thirtieth Anniversary Celebration’ (Yep, two colons… I mean, it is a thirtieth anniversary, after all!) has been released to commemorate the original animated series and perhaps pave the way for new adaptations. (A live action movie has long been rumored.) The book, which features contributions from Marc Morrell, Joshua Bernard, Brian Smith, Jacob Chabot and many more lifelong fans, pulls back the curtain to discuss the evolution of the cult classic series and exhaustively fleshes out the mythology of the show, even reconciling why there were technically three different versions of Voltron.
Of course the most popular version was the “Lion” Voltron, but what you may never have known is that this version arrived in the U.S. by accident! One factoid revealed (and I promise not to reveal too many secrets) is that World Events Productions (WEP), the American company responsible for bringing the show to the U.S., initially wanted a show called ‘Mirai Robo Daltanious’ to anchor the series, but by accident, Toei, the Japanese animation company they were working with, sent a different series, ‘Beast King GoLion.’ The rest is history, as U.S. audiences reveled in the adventures of Keith, Lance, Pidge, Hunk, Sven and Allura, in their battle against the blue-skinned menace of King Zarkon, Prince Lotor and Haggar the Witch.
This book not only details anything you could ever want to know about these major characters (including the fact that they are all much older than I would have thought), but also delves into the supporting cast, including the ones from the short-lived 1998 relaunch and every single RoBeast that appeared on any version of the show. (Presented in Pokemon-like card fashion.)
The lesser-known “Vehicle Voltron,” adapted from the Japanese series ‘Dairugger XV’ receives a chapter, but it strictly gives information about the show’s continuity, not the behind the scenes. (There simply weren’t enough episodes of ‘Beast King GoLion’ for U.S. syndication, so episodes from ‘Dairugger XV’ were inserted to pad out the initial run.) But the chapter does list every member of the several teams that were used to compose Vehicle Voltron.
As die-hard fans know, there was even a third Voltron, adapted from the Japanese show ‘Albega,’ commonly referred to as ‘Gladiator Voltron,’ however this version never actually aired in English-speaking regions, so very little information is given about that incarnation.
What is presented? Well, as if all this weren’t enough, we also get details on every attack weapon employed by both the Voltrons that actually made it to air, loads of rare photos (did you know they actually had actors that made public appearances as the Voltron Force for charity?), a full chapter devoted to the iconic toys related to the franchise (from various manufacturers) and pretty much every detail you could possibly want to know about ‘Voltron’.
Even if you’re just a casual fan, this book is a real eye-opener and gives many tasty morsels behind the series. If you’re a die-hard fan, this book does the property justice and is a must have for your coffee table! Or if you know someone who is a fan, well… Christmas is coming… just a suggestion (and this book is way more affordable than the toys that now sell for hundreds of dollars!).