Voltron Assembler < Voltron Giant Commander

By Shawn Robare

It was nearly impossible to be a kid growing up in the 80s suffering through the onslaught of product merchandising and not have a moment of pure greed and weakness where you simply just “had to have” some ridiculously expensive and outlandish toy.  Whether it was the elusive Transformers Devastator gift set, the shimmering She-Ra Crystal Castle, or the juggernaut that was the G.I. Joe U.S.S. Flagg aircraft carrier.  You begged, pleaded, bargained, and schemed in order to score that thing you just couldn’t bear to live without regardless if your parents could afford it, or in the case of the Flagg, if there was even room to house it!  Whether or not you managed to secure your grail, I have to assume that there was an epic battle of wills with the parental units when attempting to acquire it, and years later the scars of that battle are probably still healing.

For me, that battle was fought in the attempt to get my grubby little hands on what I considered the most epic toy of all time (or at least the years between 1982-1988), the Voltron Giant Commander!  Released in 1984, it was almost 24 inches tall, had nine brilliant points of articulation, came with his patented flaming sword, and best of all, it was freaking motorized!


That 2lb hunk of beautiful plastic was what I considered the pinnacle of toy technology as a kid and I coveted it something fierce.  What’s weird is that even though I watched the Voltron cartoon from time to time I was never really a huge fan of the show.  But the design of the Lion Voltron completely knocked my socks off and it was one of the sets of toys that my parents never saw fit to pick up for my birthdays or Christmas.  That just added fuel to the fire of my lust after I saw the commercial for the Giant Commander on TV, most likely in the middle of watching Saturday morning cartoons.  I used to lay in our den and daydream about how much more awesome my life would be if I had a two-foot tall Voltron at my beck and call.  Sure, it wasn’t strictly a remote control toy as the control box was connected by a three foot length of wire, but that almost made it even cooler in my mind as if that wire were a leash, and the Voltron was my motorized pet!

I seem to remember pleading my case to my parents for at least two solid years straight at every chance I got, much like Ralphie and his Red Ryder BB Gun shenanigans from A Christmas Story.  Needless to say, unlike Ralphie, I never got my wish, and even though as a kid there was always a hole in my heart for that toy, I did eventually get over it.  And bless his heart, there was one time when my Dad attempted to “get my that damn toy” I was always harping about, but in pure parent fashion he sort of completely missed the mark.  My father was a fiend for visiting our local flea market where I grew up.  It was (and still is) called Flea World and was located out on 17-92 just outside of the Orlando area.  It boasted a hundred stalls located inside an air-conditioned space (which was actually 3-4 trailer units, like schools use, jury-rigged together), and he loved seeking out deals on off-brand golf equipment and getting burgers from the food court.  Well one day he came home from Flea World and told me he got me that Voltron I wanted.  To his credit, he did but A Voltron…

Voltron Assembler

Five inches tall and made of cheap, hollow plastic, this Voltron Assembler was not at all what I had in mind when he said I could go grab it out of the car.  As a kid it sort of felt like my dad was messing with me on purpose, but he was very earnest and proud that he managed to find that “damn toy robot”.  I never let him know I was disappointed, doubly so when one of the arm and leg connector knobs each broke off after only ten minutes of play (which I masterfully hid by inconspicuously Super Gluing it back together, as well as gluing my fingers together in the process.)

Looking back, I’m actually glad I never managed to win my parents over because I’m sure the Giant Commander was a let-down.  A couple years later then ended up getting me that monstrosity that was the U.S.S. Flagg (for the record I never asked for it) and it was such a waste of their money.  Sometimes those huge, expensive toy holy grails are just not what they’re cracked up to be…

Voltron Assembler 2

  • Awesome stuff! I remember wanting that Voltron, too, but never getting it. I did get much of what I put on my list over the years and have no complaints. I do agree that those “holy grail” toys were more likely to be letdowns (unless they were video game systems like Atari, Nintendo, etc.) Enjoyed the post! Merry Christmas!

    • Thanks man, and Merry Christmas to you too! Also, totally agree, the NES was a big gift that kept giving and giving for years after…

  • Spotted Feather

    You actually didn’t want the Flagg ?

    • I know right, it seems crazy. The reality for me was that, that toy was really hard to “play with”. For one, being six feet long and build in fragile sections you couldn’t move it. So where it was set up was where it stayed, and for me that mean in our dining room (we didn’t have a dining room table for a number of years when I was a kid), so it was just beached there away from my room (it was too big for my room.) Then there’s the fact that it’s basically just a huge slab of plastic. Sure, there’s the neat control room, but there’s no below decks stuff. It ended up becoming a place for me to pile all my action figures, which used to piss my mom off to no end…

      • Spotted Feather

        I always wanted a Flagg. Unfortunately, around the time that it came out, I started having brothers. So, there went the times of getting the giant playsets….though, I did get stuff like Grayskull and the Ewok Village.

        I love to watch the show Toy Hunter. Every time the host goes to conventions or toy shows, and finds a booth of GI JOE, the subject of Flagg comes up. Especially when the seller has one on display. He even found one still in the box. But it was going for like a thousand dollars.

        Funny. We could never afford these awesome toys when we were kids. But now that we’re adults with jobs…we STILL can’t afford them….

        • I know, even when stuff is moderately affordable as an adult I keep finding myself saying (out loud in the store) “What in the hell am I going to do with that?!” I’ve been coveting that new 30th anniversary Jetfire (I have the original thanks to a gracious Branded reader) and I bought the Classics one that came out like 5-6 years ago, but that new one is so dang spiffy. But at $50 I just can’t seem to pull the trigger…

  • I’d like to say that the fact that you now have this story to tell is well worth TEN of the Voltron Commanders… but I’d be lying to you. Not directly to your face… because this is the internet. But still.

    I had the Voltron combiner set with all the separate lions and that thing just blew my brains out the back of my head. I was not remotely interested in the Voltron show either, and I couldn’t tell you who any of the other characters on the show even were except maybe some of the pilots (Pink Princess, Androgynous Spectacled Kid in Green, Beefy Guy, Hero Guy, Some Other Pilot)… but heck, you give a 6 year old a GIANT ROBOT made of LIONS and see if he’s not grateful forever.

    I mean, you would probably have been bored though. Totally.

    • Yeah, I think my brain was lulled into coveting the wrong set of Voltron toys!