This is the only footage I could find online, but I own the DVD, which I need to finish watching (add that to the list), so I know something more about it. Like Super Dimensional Fortress Macross and Harmony Gold, Beast King GoLion didn’t have enough episodes for a weekday TV series, which is why World Events Productions picked up three series to create The Voltron Trilogy. More on that in a couple of weeks, because we never got a trilogy. Like Robotech an attempt was made to create a mythos that would combine the various series created into Voltron. So when they ran out of adventures of the team now called the Lion Force, they created the Vehicle Team Voltron Force, although I remember them being called the Vehicle TEAM when I was a kid.
Armored Fleet DaiRugger XV was the tale of a group of space explorers from multiple planets who used the titular robot to protect their fleet from a competing planet who didn’t want to share a planet, even blowing up planets they couldn’t have all to themselves. They’re kind of jerks that way. The “Galaxy Garrison” footage came from this show, and it would be established that Chip, a member of the Vehicle Team, was the twin brother of Pidge from the Lion Force, since their character models look so similar. (It also established they have a sister, so the “Pidge” of Legendary Defender could claim that was an homage…although the real reason is the voice actress wanted to play a girl character.)
The robot consists of 15 vehicles (which is where the “Fleet” comes in) that combined into a super robot, but it was also made up of three teams–air, land, and sea–that could combine into larger vehicles when necessary. This allowed for multi-terrain exploration but if separated could defend themselves long enough to get together and form their version of Voltron. Tonight we’ll be looking at five episodes of the Vehicle Voltron team, since the official YouTube channel already has them in a separate playlist. Oddly it’s not the first five (I’m betting you have to pay for those) but episodes six through ten. And then we’ll try to figure out why this version is barely remembered by WEP and all but the classic fans. I think the last time they show up anywhere besides this is the Devil’s Due comics I’m reviewing, so I’m doing this one to get everyone up to speed.
So why did this show fail to catch the audience their lion-based compatriots did? The robot is pretty cool and the Drule versions of the RoBeasts were pretty cool. There were also more stories tying into each other than the GoLion/Lion Force stories. There’s even a full ending as there is a final confrontation that, unlike the Lion stories, weren’t re-edited so that the baddies escape. It even has one of the bad guys start to think that maybe the path they were on was actually hurting their people since blowing up a planet is harder to colonize than one shared with the Galaxy Alliance.
Well there could be a number of reasons. For one thing, the Lion stories had less characters, and all but Coran and Nanny had decent focus episodes that endeared us to the characters. Each group has five pilots, leading to fifteen different characters to focus on, and a lot of them didn’t. The leaders, Jeff, Cliff, and Krik were the leaders and some of the other characters (mostly the Air Team if memory serves) got some focus but the rest were left behind. If anything the villains had more focus as general after general challenged the Explorer and her crew.
It also doesn’t help that kids weren’t ready for a new Voltron. If the final opening acknowledged the other teams that might have helped. I’ll get more into this in a later article, but official promotion mentioned that this was the Voltron team of the near universe (the Matchbox toylines called it Voltron I) and the Lion Force (Voltron III, and we’ll get to Voltron II eventually) of the “far universe” because that’s how universes work. Kids were used to the Lions and now all of a sudden there’s a completely different robot calling itself Voltron. It also wasn’t as action heavy as their counterpart, a number of episodes focused on the exploring or dealing with the aftermath of a crisis. It was pretty much Star Trek with a giant robot. Which admittedly sounds completely awesome and maybe why there are a few of us who do like it among those who don’t. However, I may enjoy it more in the original Japanese since DaiRugger doesn’t have to be Voltron. The two Voltrons would team up in the TV movie The Fleet Of Doom but after that Devil’s Due appearance it seems the Vehicle Team has fallen into trivia obscurity. Too bad, as it is a good show.
What might have helped was a tighter connection between the two groups. Had Vehicle Voltron been based on Lion Voltron, as in the Devil’s Due comic, but shared rather than forced (as we’ll see in volume 2 coming up after this storyline), it would earn the name Voltron. Compare it to Robotech, which had a strong connection to each other as each of the three groups invading Earth had a strong tie to each other and Earth thanks to the addition of the energy source Protoculture and Robotechnology. All we had were two brothers and a name however and it just seemed like another robot named Voltron for some reason. That should show you the importance of details when it comes to world-building. Or in this case universe building.
But we aren’t done with the Voltronathon. Did you know there was a second season of Voltron with non-Japanese footage? I’ll tell you about it next week.