The giant robots that turn into other various everyday gadgets and vehicles that populate Transformers: Dark of the Moon will inundate American multiplexes starting ’round midnight on Tuesday — causing my boy cousins to come likely thisclose to a complete synaptic meltdown. But there was a time when those robots in disguise weren’t the only mechanical wonders dominating the pop-culture brain-space of American youth. Children of the 1980s will likely remember that the original Transformers TV series premiered at the same time as another show about a group of heroic giant robots that turn into, well, one even more giant robot: Voltron.
And no, I’m not talking about the “space” Voltron, a.k.a. the “vehicle” Voltron, a.k.a. what Wikipedia is telling me was called Voltron of the Near Universe, which I remember thinking even then was a bald-faced attempt to triple the merchandising dollars by tripling the number of Voltron robots from five to 15. Fun fact! This super-sized Voltron was actually converted from a Japanese TV series called Armored Fleet Dairugger XV, with new character names and a new plot — just as the original Voltron was converted from a Japanese show called Beast King GoLion. Which only makes me wonder whether Japanese broadcasters ever considered reshaping The Flintstones into a bleak dystopian series about warring cave people called ManBeast Battle XIX. (Seriously, why are you all looking at me like that?)
As it happens, like so many other 1980s animated series, Voltron just got itself a 21st century reboot on Nicktoons last week, which was the highest-rated premiere ever for the programming block. Clearly, a quintet of giant robot lions who battle to protect the planet Arus from the evil King Zarkon and his pissy son Lotor are remain in (relative) high demand. But who among the Voltron team is the coolest? Let’s break it down:
Lion color: Black. But Keith himself wears a red uniform. And the lion forms a white streak in the sky while traveling in the opening credits. So I have no effing clue, really.
Part of Voltron: The torso and head
Why he’s cool: When he brings Voltron together, he says “Activate interlock! Dynotherms connected! Infracells up! Mega-thrusters are go!” With complete and utter conviction. Over, and over, and over again.
Lion color: Blue, but Allura wears a pink uniform.
Part of Voltron: Right leg
Why she’s cool: She rules the Kingdom of Altair, fends off the affections of the evil prince Lotor, and still has no problem becoming what amounts to Voltron’s foot.
Lion color: Yellow, but Hunk wears an orange uniform.
Part of Voltron: Left leg
Why he’s cool: He’s never late for a meal, and he always sounded like he sold Philly Cheesesteaks in another life.
Lion color: Red, but Lance wears a blue uniform.
Part of Voltron: Right arm
Why he’s cool: Second-in-command, he always got to hold Voltron’s sword.
Lion color: Green, but Pidge wears a…wait, his uniform is green too!
Part of Voltron: Left arm
Why he’s cool: A boy genius, he was the Voltron
everyone many young boys I most wanted to be.
Lion color: Blue, but Sven wore a black uniform.
Part of Voltron: The right leg, until…
Why he’s cool: …he was badly injured in the sixth episode, was sent to another planet to convalesce, and eventually fell in love with Allura’s cousin, Romelle. Really, though, it’s because he has the best head of hair on the show by far.
We all know the answer to this question is going to be Sven, but I’ll ask it in any event: