Voltron Classics: The White Dots Debunked

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Mattel's decision to include white dots on the shoulder armor of their Voltron Classics figures has created some controversy. While some fans don't mind the dots, others vehemently oppose them claiming they don't belong. So who's right?

In the '80s, it was common practice for an animated series to have a limited animation budget for its first run of episodes. This was done to prevent the production company from breaking the bank, just in case the series didn’t catch on. Early episode of series like Voltron and G.I. Joe are great examples of this, where the early animation quality is noticeably inferior to animation in later episodes.

In the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (aka The Mass Device) mini-series, the color of medals, belts and even clothing can change from frame-to-frame, right before your eyes. It's quite comical. The same goes for Voltron, with early episodes of the series showing the shoulder armor without the dots or sometimes as a reflection. There are even instances where the Lions are the wrong color!

While we'd all prefer consistency, the truth is the production companies were testing the market with their brands--think of early episodes as animated pilots--and the details were an afterthought. Once a series proved it had staying power, i.e. an audience, the animation budget usually increased and those little details like medals, belts and dots on shoulder armor were given the attention they deserved.

The stills above from Voltron: Defender of the Universe episode 31, titled The Sincerest Form of Flattery, show a matured animation style that includes the dots on the shoulder armor of all five pilots. While re-used animation (especially animation cells related to the introduction) will also show the armor without the dots from time to time, it's clear that the intent was to include the dots as part of the pilots' uniforms, moving forward.

So is Mattel correct in including the white dots on the shoulder armor of its Voltron Classics figures? In our opinion, yes, Mattel is absolutely correct for including the white dots on the shoulder armor.

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