Retrospective On Voltron: Defender of the Universe

Retrospective On the Voltron: Defender of the Universe

Voltron is an incredibly successful animated television series franchise that contains four animated television series, a successful toy line, and several comic books. The whole franchise is based on a five-person team of space explorers who became the pilots of a gigantic legendary super robot called Voltron.

The Voltron franchise contains imported media from Japan that had been heavily edited and translated. Voltron: Defender of the Universe that serves as the original blueprint for all the following series. To create this series, the production merged two Japanese anime series, Beast King GoLion, and Armored Fleet Dairugger XV.

By merging these two very different anime series, Voltron created a brand-new storyline. To accomplish this feat, the production seriously edited the episodes to fit the criteria for a children’s television series. Edits also removed any representational symbol or culture to portray the series’ Japanese origin.

Join us on a retrospective on Voltron the Defender of the Universe

Voltron: Defender of The Universe (1984 – 1985)

Voltron: Defender of The Universe (1984 - 1985)

Voltron: Defender of the Universe is an action, adventure, mecha, Sci-Fi, superhero animated television series that World Events Production (W.E.P) produced. The show contains 124 episodes over two seasons, with the first season containing 72 episodes and the second 52. The first season was subtitled Lion Force Voltron, and the second was Vehicle Team Voltron.

Escape and Meeting Princess Allura

The show opens on a 5-Man team, consisting of Keith, Pidge, Lance, Hunk, and Sven, of star explorers on a mission by the Galaxy Alliance. The space explorers noticed the inhabitants of a planet being under attack by the forces of planet Doom. Before they could do anything to help, King Zarkon’s forces captured their spaceship.

They contacted the Galaxy Alliance’s headquarters to inform them about their situation. However, the leaders of the Galaxy Alliance decided against sending a rescue team as they were thousands of light-years away. So, help would never get to them on time to save them. One of the leaders then talked about the legend of a super robot called Voltron on planet Arus, close to planet Doom.

After the team’s successful escape from within their prison cell, they had to fight their way into commandeering a spaceship to escape the planet. Commander Yurak pursued their spaceship, and he landed some damaging shots on the spaceship.

The team managed to land on planet Arus after some tracker beam guided down the damaged spaceship from the Castle of Lions. They recognized the Castle as the hiding place of the legendary Voltron. After they had successfully landed, they set out to find the Castle of Lions. On arrival, Coran greeted them before quickly introduced them to Princess Allura.

Forming Voltron

King Zarkon’s attack on the Arus cut short the welcome ceremonies as he attempted to recapture the space explorers. Princess Allura led the space explorers to the tomb of her father, King Alfor, which held the keys to the Lions. Unfortunately, she discovered one of the keys was missing.

On the other hand, Pidge, the smallest of the space explorers, had set out to delay, if not stop, the advancing troops of planet Doom forces. Unfortunately, these troops soon overwhelmed and outgunned Pidge, so he called for help. Thus, the four other space explorers with keys mounted their Lions and rushed to help Pidge.

After narrowly escaping the forces of Planet Doom’s attack, all five members of the space explorers returned to the Castle of Lions to search for the fifth key. After searching the whole Castle more than twice, they interrogated the space mice. Luckily, these mice did have possession of the missing key.

After recovering the last key, the space explorers got into different Lions. Keith became the leader who piloted to the Black Lion. Pidge now piloted the Green Lion. Lance became the pilot of the Red Lion. Sven got the Blue Lion. Finally, Hunk took control of the Yellow Lion. So, they became the Voltron Lion Force, and they finally merged their Lions to become Voltron.

Defending the Universe

Voltron began fighting and defeating a Robeast left from the initial attack by the forces of planet Doom. King Zarkon heard of Voltron’s victory over the Robeast, and he became enraged. King Zarkon immediately initiated plots for his next attack on planet Arus and the Lion Force. The Lion Force tried to convince the people of Arus to come out hiding now that Voltron was back. However, they were too afraid to be convinced.

Shortly after, King Zarkon’s forces attacked planet Arus again, and the Lion Force quickly reformed Voltron to combat the forces of Doom’s attack. As Voltron was busy fighting a Robeast, Zarkon attacked the Castle of Lions.

Feeling helpless and afraid of losing her home, which is also the last standing heritage of her people, Princess Allura sought help in her father’s tomb. There, her father’s ghost notified her of a secret button. After she pressed the button, the Castle of Lions transformed into a newer, stronger, and more fortified Castle with better weapons.

After successful repelling King Zarkon’s latest attack and his forces had all retreated, the inhabitants of planet Arus came out to the new Castle seeking refuge and help in repairing their homes.

Princess Allura Becomes the Blue Lion Pilot

Following an altercation with the witch, Hagger, Sven received severe injuries as he attempted to save Lance from the witch’s grasp. Sven was subsequently transferred to another planet for better medical care.

In Sven’s absence, the Lion Force knew they were vulnerable as they could not form Voltron without all five Lions. So, Princess Allura stepped up and assumed control of the Blue Lion vacated by Sven, against the advice of Coran.

With the five Lions piloted and the Lion Force functional, Voltron can arrive at any time. Thus, the planet Arus is safe from the forces of planet Doom.

Voltron: The Third Dimension (1998 – 2000)

Voltron: The Third Dimension (1998 - 2000)

During its original development, Voltron: The Third Dimension was a sequel to the first season of the Voltron: Defender of the Universe series. The team originally dubbed this series as Lion Force Voltron series, as they set the events in this series just five years after episode 52 of the Defender of the Universe series. The villains of this series were Prince Lotor and a new antagonist in the form of a supercomputer, or an artificial intelligence named Amalgamus.

The series opens with Prince Lotor’s successful prison break and his revenge mission against the Lion Force. Also, the rise of the sophisticated computer who does not agree with the Lion Force’s methods of handling situations. The Voltron Force must assemble against the two capable adversaries to ensure victory.

Voltron Force (2011 – 2012)

Voltron Force (2011 - 2012)

In the Voltron Force, alongside Prince Lotor, the Voltron Force must fight against a new villain determined to become the supreme ruler of the Galaxy Garrison. To achieve this incredible feat, he needs to get rid of the Voltron Force, destroy Voltron and stage a coup. The animated television series also brought together the old Voltron Force gang and depicted younger soldiers training to replace them.

Voltron: Legendary Defender (2016 – 2018)

Voltron: Legendary Defender (2016 - 2018)

The Voltron: Legendary Defender established an alternate universe that uses a substance named Quintessence, which was useful as fuel in vehicles and as a catalyst in magic. The series also used the word Paladins to describe the Voltron pilots called Lion Force or Voltron Air in previous incarnations of the Voltron franchise. Rather than reusing the Drule Empire, DreamWorks created the Galra Empire amongst numerous changes made in the series.

Regardless of all the changes, the core characters and their names like Keith, Lance, Pidge, Hunk, Princess Allura, King Zarkon, and many more remained unaltered. However, DreamWorks did substitute Sven with a new character, Shiro. This animated television series is based on the Paladins of Voltron’s actions and adventure in defeating the evil Galra Empire.

The History of Voltron and the Lions

The animated series opens with an origin tale, which depicts how the Galra Empire conquers worlds, destroys civilizations, and takes innocent people as slaves. Thus, only the powerful robot and Defender of the Universe, Voltron, could stop King Zarkon and his Galra Empire.

At a critical moment during the war between King Alfor of planet Altea and the Galra Empire, King Alfor magically separates Voltron into five different Lions to prevent King Zarkon from capturing Voltron. In what turned out to be his final act, King Alfor bonded the five Lions of Voltron’s energies together with his daughter’s life force. Then, he scattered the five Lions across the Universe. Planet Arus became the hiding place of Castle of the Lions, which contains the Black Lion.

The Reemergence of Voltron

Now in the present, King Zarkon and his Galra Empire have searched the universe looking for the Lions of Voltron. However, their efforts have been futile. Meanwhile, in Earth’s solar system, a five-person crew of space pilots inadvertently wound up in the crosshairs of an intergalactic dogfight.

As they escaped the firefight, they found the Blue Lion. The crew subsequently met Princess Allura. With her help, they found the remaining Lions and assumed the positions of the new Paladins of Voltron.

After they successfully merged the five Lions, Voltron returned to start liberating all the Universe from the grasp of the Galra Empire.

Final Thoughts

Despite the passage of decades, Voltron has retained its relevance in popular culture. Even with the latest series completed, the toys have continued to sell to the masses. Both new and old fans flock to the franchise to enjoy the characters and the lions themselves.

So, what do we have to look forward to in Voltron’s future?

Do you have old and used Voltron toys?

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About the author

Author: Chris Ingledue 

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Bio: I am the founder and owner of Wheeljack’s Lab pop Culture and Toy Shop. My vision has always been to reunite customers with their favorite childhood toys and pop culture, triggering fond memories, and reigniting their imaginations. Every day, I work in the “lab” where it’s Christmas 365 days a year. I scour the internet, like when we had the Sears Catalog of yesteryear, for the next great treasure. Then, I await the arrival of the postman as if he were Santa Claus himself and helping collectors worldwide with their own versions of Christmas. Every day as a vintage toy buyer is an absolute joy!

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Retrospective On Voltron: Defender of the Universe
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Retrospective On Voltron: Defender of the Universe
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Join us on a retrospective on Voltron: Defender of the Universe and all of the cartoons that spawned from the original 1984 classic.
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Wheeljack's Lab
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