The 12" DX version of Voltes V (once again, V as in the Roman numeral, rather than the letter) was released in 1977. As with most Chogokin of the time, a smaller, simpler ST version was also made.
Voltes V was the star of the 1978 Anime Cho-denji Machine Voltes V (a sequel of sorts to Chodenji Combattler V). The show was, like its' predecessor, very popular in Japan. The figures produced for the line were amongst the most lavish Chogokin.
The DX version split into five separate modules, and was either available one vehicle at a time in Popy's Popinika range (which covered vehicles), or in a set (named Volt-in-Box). This was the version available in the Godaikin range, and is one of the most expensive Chogokin to find, with prices for a respectable, but not spectacular, condition example starting at around £300, with a complete, mint Japanese Volt-in-Box set easily capable of reaching four figures.
So, I don't own a DX version, and am highly unlikely to ever be able to afford one. Thankfully, there are other options open. The ST version, while still expensive by the standards of contemporary ST Chogokin, is more affordable. The ST figure was also released as one of the 2-in-1 Shogun Warriors figures, under the name Voltus V. There was also a Jumbo Machinder version released in Japan - this was one of the transforming Jumbos, the TV commercial even showing a small child riding around on the thing (no doubt giving heart attacks to modern-day collectors).
Since then, Voltes V has remained one of the most high-profile Super Robots (at least, in his native Japan), becoming a regular in Banpresto's Super Robot Wars video game franchise, and myriad PVC figures have been made. More interestingly, Bandai have made a couple of stabs at new toys based on the character. There was a 3" metal/plastic version in celebratory line The Chogokin, an attempt at making cheap versions of classic characters - the figure is a scaled down version of the ST figure (typically, the Voltes V figure from the range is startlingly expensive on the second-hand market). The most notable new figure, though, was the 2006 Soul of Chogokin version, upgrading the DX version.
The ST figure does have some small transformational ability. It can form the Voltank mode, a vehicle composed of all five Volt vehicles. I've not seen much of the Anime series, and don't particularly intend to, but I doubt if this beastie of a mode featured all that often - the feeling I get is that Popy thought there should be some sort of transformation involved for the larger figure, and this was the idea they came up with.
The ST version suffers even moreso, as the scaled-down Voltank doesn't have the detail - most noticeable on the Volt Bomber, Volt Panzer and Volt Frigate modules, which look more than ever like the back of a robot. The Volt Crewzer looks much as it does on the DX version, while the Volt Lander doesn't do so bad either.
The arms don't fold at the elbow joint as on the full-size figure, and I'm not really sure whether the fists (I know they're basically forearms, but the review will be too clunky unless I cut a couple of corners...) are meant to be left on, or removed - I tend to lean towards the former, as it really doesn't make much difference, neither looking spectacularly good, but at least does keep the spring-loaded forearms with the rest of the figure.
The main feature of the Voltank mode is the ability to launch the Volt Crewzer module. This doesn't so much separate as fire, as if it's a large missile. The plastic Crewzer is sadly, if unsurprisingly, stuck in its' disjointed combined configuration. It's not a particularly fun gimmick on the whole, largely presenting the chance to lose or break this vital part, and rest of the Voltank looks even stranger without it.
As you might expect, transforming Voltes V to robot mode is a simple process, largely involving pushing the feet through 90°. The rest is basically cosmetic. It's a shame that even this isn't seamless, as the fists need to be removed so the caterpillar tracks can be put in place on Voltes V's back. A further note on these, incidentally, is that most pictures (I've yet to see a set of instructions for the toy) show these locking in place pointing out at 90° from the robot's back - this looks better only when looking at the figure from bang in front, so I have them going down the back of his legs. This way, they still don't get in the way, and look a bit more natural, especially when displayed at positions other than facing straight ahead.
Whatever the faults of the ST figure as a transformable toy, it can't be denied that it looks good in robot mode. The design is classic, from the excellent head sculpt to the superb body shape - just the right mix of blocky and streamlined. Popy have put a lot of effort in to this mode at the expense of the Voltank, so it's pleasing to report it's very well done, with good proportions and some sound detail work. The large number of colours used - white, black, red, silver, blue, white, yellow - are a recipe for disaster, and yet Voltes V still manages to look very tasteful.
There is a huge amount of diecast on this figure (Voltes V weighs in at 300g, not bad for a thin 6" tall robot), which really adds to the feel of quality - only the caterpillar tracks, small yellow wings, Volt Crewzer, head, fists, yellow belt part and upper feet are actually plastic, which must be just somewhere between 10-20% of the toy. Aside from the helmet adornments, I'd imagine this toy is basically indestructible as well.
The articulation is also rather impressive - similar to the ST Dairugger XV, Popy have added 'Walking' joints to the hips and knees that allow a few neat poses in conjunction with the movement at the ankles. The red 'M'-shaped block on the chest can actually be removed to form the hilt of the figure's sword, something featured in the Anime. I don't have the blade, but it's a nice touch, and use of the black-painted metal means the hole in the chest isn't particularly obvious when the hilt is removed.
| While the
vehicle mode is best described as neglected, there's enough going for
the robot mode for me to recommend Voltes V's ST form. While it's clearly
not a shade on the larger version, it does display nicely in its' own
right. The craftsmanship and quality overcomes a few potential snags,
and it really is a shame this one didn't get to come out in the Godaikin
range. As ST figures from the late 1970s go, he can be quite expensive
(with all the removable parts often being lost from loose examples), but
providing you like the robot mode enough to justify the outlay, he's worth