If you haven’t heard, LEGO has just released a new Ideas set: Voltron (Ideas Set 21311). This is a massive set with much to recommend it to both the toy photographer and the LEGO builder. Rather than give you another traditional review of the set, we decided to look at this epic set through the eyes of six different toy photographers. I hope you enjoy both the thoughts and the photos from six different viewpoints of this massive set.
Voltron – Six Different View Points
Whether or not you’re a fan of Voltron or giant robots like I am, the new LEGO Ideas set will impress you with not just its size, but its creative construction.
When you think about it, having each lion essentially as its own set and then being able to combine them into a larger set boggles the mind! How would it all hold together? Would I be able to carry this thing without an entire leg or arm falling off? The LEGO design team has got that covered by cleverly employing advanced building techniques that provide strong enough clutch so that the lions wouldn’t just fall off, but light enough that you could disassemble Voltron without destroying the lions in the process.
I have to admit though that I’m not one of these LEGO fans that wants to spend several hours building, so after spending a few hours completing the yellow lion, I bellyached about having to do the same thing over for the blue lion. Surprisingly, the LEGO designers changed up enough details so that it didn’t feel entirely repetitive. They even managed to throw in a little Easter egg by color coding the upper leg joint so that when you wanted to form Voltron, you knew which lion went into which socket. It would’ve been great if they had done the same for the arms though.
I really like that the Voltron build is fairly studless; the robot looks sleek from all angles. I especially appreciated the chrome pieces and the brick built details on the torso because I despise stickers for so many reasons. In this LEGO set, stickers are optional!
As with the modular buildings, I don’t really look at the Voltron set for its playability but for its displayability. However, it’s still important to me that the lions can form Voltron because that’s the whole point of Voltron. As for where I am going to display this giant set, that’s still up in the air.
I will freely admit that I missed the boat on the 90’s version of Voltron. By the time Voltron began airing on television in the United States I was well passed my Saturday morning cartoon phase of life. My interest in this set was based on the persistent rumors I had been hearing on the internet. Whenever I heard about this set, it’s impeding release, etc. it was always with a sense of wonder and awe. When LEGO reached out and offered up this set for photography I was interest in seeing what all the fuss was about.
I wasn’t disappointed.
I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a build as much as I enjoyed this one in a long time. Due to the fact the Voltron is composed of five separate lions which each has its own personality, it was fitting that each build was different. As the arms, the Green and Red lions are sleek and have the most movement. The legs are composed of the Blue and Yellow lions; each is solid with a nice heft in your hand. Because the Black lion is the linchpin of the team, he is is built like a brick. While he is the strongest lion, he is the least interesting lion to photograph. But when Voltron is assembled, he’s the most compelling aspect of the build to photograph.
I actually enjoyed transforming the five lions into Voltron. I had to do this on numerous occasions, so I got good at it. I love how the set echos the cartoon version of the transformation. The legs of the Red, Green, Blue and Yellow lions tuck in to create the arms and legs. The back legs of the Black lion insert into the Yellow and Blue lLions just like in the TV. Every time I made the transition I was replaying that footage in my head and mentally thinking: “Form Voltron!”
There is just so much to love about this set. It’s not only a fun build, it’s surprisingly photogenic and it has high play potential. But even with all that going for it, I still found myself frustrated on several occasions. My biggest frustration with the set were the legs of the Red and Green lions and the paws on all the lions. The hinges used to make this connection were constantly popping off. In fact I ended losing one paw somewhere in my Voltron adventures; it’s probably on a mountain somewhere.
My other criticism is the lack of movement. While I understand the reasoning behind this decision, I can’t help but want more flexibility in the legs. But hey, its LEGO, I can always make modifications or build my own.
Photographing Voltron was a huge challenge. Trying to put him together (Form Voltron!) while perched on the side of a cliff while being attached by mosquitoes didn’t always yield the right results. As you can see from this image, I managed to put the arms on incorrectly.
I had better luck the next time I took him out. The mosquitoes where doubled in strength, but at least the view was better!
Thank you LEGO Ideas team for the opportunity to photograph this super fun set. I have many lasting memories from the experience, a few awesome photos and an addiction to the Netflix tv show. I consider this expereince a definite win.
I was honored and excited to be one of the Paladins chosen to review this new Voltron set, though I admit I knew very little about the property beforehand. Thankfully the Netflix animated series was a big help, in terms of understanding Voltron’s lore, posing, characterization, etc.
My thoughts coming out of this project are, to be honest, a bit mixed. As a LEGO set, this thing is fantastic. Beginning with the build itself, I can’t remember the last time I was so impressed by LEGO. Going into it, I feared that it would be similar to the Tron cycle, which Brett had pointed out was really just the same build twice, making the whole experience fun the first time but a bit tedious upon repetition. I feared that Voltron would only amplify that problem, since you have to build five individual lion mechs. I was impressed to find that each mech is different, and thus the build for each is new and exciting every time. Even the arms and legs, which I assumed would just be duplicates of each other, had minor differences that kept it interesting and gave each lion its own personality. Of the five, my favorites are the Blue and Green lions. I wasn’t sure how LEGO would be able to pull off allowing each lion to transform and connect to make Voltron, but they did, and it impresses me each time I assemble or disassemble the larger mech.
Photographing these things, however, was a challenge. I was most frustrated by the mech’s lack of articulation. The legs don’t move, and the arms only move up or down, making Voltron look stiff in photos. The heads on the red and green lions (the arms) move slightly on ball joints, but not enough to give you a range of poses with the sword and shield. Similarly, Voltron’s head turns but does not move up or down. To get the shots I really wanted, I had to cheat a bit and disconnect certain joints or remove pieces here and there.
The mech is also extremely cumbersome and difficult to bring on location. I took shots both in my home studio and out in public, and found the studio experience to be the most enjoyable. On location I had to carry Voltron around in a tote bag, and if he wasn’t losing bits and pieces inside the bag, he was falling over or his legs were disconnecting once I got him out in the open. The lions themselves were much easier to photograph, but I still found myself having to reattach tails, legs or random pieces. Sometimes I wasn’t even quite sure where something was supposed to go!
All in all, I think this is a wonderful build and Voltron looks amazing on display. It’s also gigantic! Voltron is easily the biggest LEGO set I’ve ever owned. He towers over the Modular Buildings, my Star Wars AT-AT and Sandcrawler… even the Ghostbusters Firehouse! But because of its limited articulation and sheer bulkiness, it may leave photographers frustrated.
The first thing that struck me with this set is the heft of it! Voltron is a behemoth! The LEGO box that it came in is almost the same size as my 5 month old baby! (Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration.) Overall, I had a lot of fun with this set and here are some of my thoughts.
Voltron is made up of 5 lions piloted by 5 paladins and they are beautifully designed. The blue and yellow lions form the lower limbs whilst the red and green quadrupeds, which are more slender, form the upper limbs. Though similarly size, each lion does have characteristic differences from it’s reciprocal limb. For example, the yellow lion has 2 rear fins and a rocket launcher atop its back whereas the blue lion has a yellow strip running down its back to the tip of its tail; green lion has a more rounded look as opposed to the more angular pieces that form red lion’s mid and rear body segments. Forming the megarobot Voltron is also a joy. Slotting the sections together and flipping the black lion’s head to reveal Voltron face underneath does remind one of the scene often used in the animated series when Voltron is formed.
The size/weight and limited torso and lower limb articulation are the 2 main challenges I faced with the shoot. I usually shoot 1/12 scale figures, hence, choice of lens was different for Voltron. I wanted to accentuate his size and used a wide angle lens for a full body portrait in one of my shots. In another shot, I had an idea to have him flying in the sky, however, none of my stands nor wires were going to cut it due to its weight. Looking at the household items at my disposal, I ended up using a glass cylindrical vase which Voltron balanced nicely on. Hooray!
The limited articulation could be worked around with some “hacks” to the joints but it would be “unauthorised” and I didn’t go down that path much. That said, the articulation in the individual lions are great and I really like the realism in the way their legs bend. Lastly, Voltron wasn’t a character I was very familiar with before and I’d to do some research (i.e. watching the Netflix series) prior to shooting. Hopefully, the personalities of the lions came through in some of the shots!
When I was asked to be part of this Lego Voltron project, I was equally thrilled and honored. I don’t shoot Lego products as much as I could, but I’m a lifelong lover of Lego. Voltron is one of those properties that I’ll always remember from my early childhood. I’m glad Lego went with the classic look.
As I started assembling the first lion, I quickly realized what a beast this set would be once fully assembled. My favorite of the individual lions quickly became the arms: the red & green lions. The blue, yellow and black lions look great, but the arms have waist and head articulation that the legs and body do not.
Once the five lions are transformed and form Voltron, you’ve got one massive mech ready to defend the Lego universe. At this point, Voltron is pretty static. The knees do not bend, there is no waist swivel or bend, and the hips can only be configured to a standing or sitting position. I was, however, impressed with the shoulder joints. There’s is full rotation, and it’s designed to be strong enough to hold the weight of the arm lions in any position.
The head can only swivel about 90 degrees total before the chin get stuck on the shoulder. Lack of articulation aside, Voltron is gorgeous as a display piece. There are so many little things that make up one great build. It comes with a sword and shield which are both very cool designs.
It was challenging to shoot Voltron’s entire body, but the challenge was a welcome one. The most fun I had was taking closeup shots of it’s shoulders and head, as well as shooting the arms on their own. It wasn’t always easy, to work with, but it ended up being tons of fun.
2321 pieces, 1 heck of a build, 5 lions, 1 Voltron and endless toy photography possibilities!
It’s not often that I get to the end of a build and wish it hadn’t ended. Voltron had that effect on me. The five lions have enough differences that the build never got boring. And because of the ‘transforming’ mechanisms built into each of them, there was a sense of mystery as each of them took form. After working through the 5 booklets to build the 5 lions, the 6th book gave instructions for bag 16 to build Voltron’s sword and shield, and then the instructions for the 5 lions transformation into Voltron!
Shooting Voltron, standing 15” (40cm) tall, was a challenge. Transporting it to locations was an exercise is careful packing and car seat safety! Shooting it on location with LEGO’s request to keep it as secret as possible was the biggest challenge! Not to mention that every time I have a LEGO®Ideas project to shoot it rains. If only I these projects happened at the end of summer when our water tank is low!
But once it was transported to a secluded location away from pre-release prying eyes, and I got my head around shooting such a huge subject, it was a joy to shoot. Despite the limited movement (I really wish the arms had lateral movement and the legs bent) Voltron is a formidable figure, standing tall and proud.
Now that I can shoot Voltron free from a project scope, I can’t wait to! 5 lions + 1 Voltron = endless toy photography possibilities!
I think its obvious our six different view points that we all had fun. While Voltron is not an easy set to photograph, we all enjoyed the challenge and came away with photographs worthy of the defender of the universe. Thank you LEGO Ideas marketing team for this opportunity! If you would like a more traditional review of the set, I suggest checking out Rambling Brick. As usual, Richard has created a very complete review highlighting new parts and close-ups of the building techniques.
What are your thoughts on the Voltron set? Will you be adding this set to your collection? Tell us why or why not in the comments below.
Be sure and look to the blog next week when we will tell you how you can win your own Voltron! Yeah – we have an extra one and we cant wait to give it away to one lucky member of our community!
If you’re interested in being part of upcoming reviews I want to encourage you to get involved in our G+ Community or the blog. These opportunities from LEGO come our way from time to time and we look to our active members first.