Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the big cat robot Voltron

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Tonight, Voltron returns to the small screen, after an 11-year hiatus, with Voltron Force. But what do we really know about the giant machine made-up of lion-bots? We lifted the lid on Voltron, and here's what we discovered.

Nicktoons will premiere the 90-minute, commercial free cartoon movie tonight. To get ourselves ready, let's take a look inside the story of Voltron and how the giant robot has morphed and changed over the years. GO VOLTRON FORCE!


Tonight's premiere marks the 25th anniversary of the show, WEP productions is hoping the show will help boost toy sales and generally "introduce the brand to a generation that isn't familiar with 'Voltron'" according to Ted Koplar, president of the company. However, to older fans of the original show, this is the first chance to see new thirty-minute Voltron adventures since the disappointing Voltron: The Third Dimension aired from 1998-2000.

How was the show created?

Voltron: Defender of the Universe originally aired in September 1984 and used the Japanese cartoons Beast King GoLion and Armored Fleet Dairugger XV (two names dying to be used as the names of hipster bands) as its initial source material. For the first two seasons, the show redubbed and edited their Japanese counterpart, but they made original material for the third season. As with most children's shows from the 1980's, there was also a popular merchandise line for the show, which the new version will certainly hope to emulate.


What was the original series about?

The lion force Voltron was created by King Alfus, ruler of planet Arus. It was designed to protect planet Arus from the Drule Empire which was attacking colonists and the Galactic Alliance in the area. Leading these horrific invasions against the colonists was the evil King Zarkon of the planet Doom with his son Lotor and evil accomplice witch Haggar. It was Haggar who separated Voltron into five lions.


The first and third seasons followed Beast King GoLion and was about five young pilots: Keith, Lance, Hunk, Pidge, and Sven. They searched for and found the five robot lions that made up Voltron on Arus, using their power to fight back against King Zarkon. In episode six, Sven was critically injured (killed in the Japanese version) and Princess Allura (daughter of King Alfus) began piloting his lion in his place. These Lion Force Voltron adventures are commonly considered the classic version, but it is actually Voltron III of the far-universe within continuity.

Voltron I of the near-universe (who knew a show with robot lions would have such a detailed mythology?) was the focus of the second season, which was based on the Japanese show Armored fleet Dairugger XV. These episodes followed the adventures of fifteen adventurers divided into three teams (Aqua, Turbo, and Strato) that together formed Voltron and fought against the evil Drule Empire.


Even though the original series was a bit ridiculous, it had a certain 1980's charm (probably in part because of its obvious flaws), which enabled it to become the number one syndicated childrens' television show for a two-year span. It still retains a cult fanbase and with the recent success of Transformers, the time seems right to revive the series.

A fan made an almost nine minute long video of the show's original ridiculousness, but if you don't have time for the whole thing, try starting at the 7:37 mark.


So wait, how many Voltrons are there?

There is actually only one more Voltron after those two. Voltron II's adventures in the middle universe have only been chronicled in Japan in the show Lightspeed Electroid Albegas. Also, not really a surprise, but this Voltron also appeared in America as a toy.


Who is a Voltron fan?
Those Americans and Japanese lucky enough to have grown up in the 1980s and feasted on similar quality children's television like Transformers and He-man, as well as all the merchandise that went along with it. Also, this show holds special appeal for anyone that believes robotic lions are the most efficient vehicle for fighting. Finally, Voltron Girl is also a fan.


Do I need to have watched the old show to enjoy the new one?

Despite the surprisingly complex continuity, the show is still primarily simple fun for kids to enjoy.


The show is set five to seven years after the end of the original series and brings back its five heroes as well as the evil King Lotor. But there's also a new villain — Sky Marshall Wade, the military leader of the Galactic Alliance.The show will also introduce new, young recruits: Daniel, Vince, and Larmina, who are training to take over piloting the lions eventually. Also, according to the official site on Nicktoons, Pidge is into making techno music while Hunk writes rock anthems, so we will have to see how that develops during the show's run. Intended for children, the show will chronicle these new adventures as the heroes fight Lotor and evils throughout the universe.


Little Known Voltron Facts

- There is a mouse Voltron, piloted by space mice. It remains to be seen if they appear in the new series.


- Lotor was voiced by Tim Curry in the 1990s version. He was mortally wounded but kept alive as a cyborg, which appears in the new series.

- There are evil Robeasts used by both the Drule Empire and Planet Doom.

- When the Voltron movie was in the works, Pharrell Williams was named as a producer and composer.

The trailer for the 90-minute premier follows:

The new Voltron series airs on Nicktoons tonight.