As mentioned elsewhere, Matchbox released two versions of each Voltron - a Deluxe version, and a Miniature version. This was a long-established model in the Japanese market, and considering the figures were all licensed from Popy (a close collaborator with the Toei studio that made the anime series World Events productions were editing and dubbing into the Voltron TV series), it made sense to replicate it. The Miniature Vehicle Voltron was therefore the ST version of Dairugger XV from the Chogokin series.

To satisfy American toy regulations (and keep costs down a little) the mould was modified slightly - the spring-loaded fists were retooled to be solid pieces attached to the elbows, while the missile launchers located in the shins were removed, and the holes filled in. Finally, the sword was omitted from the figure - I'm guessing a mix of satisfying toy regulations (long pointy chromed swords of the variety seen on the Popy figures aren't present on many American toys of the period, except Bandai's Godaikin range - which seems to have circumvented most regulations due to its' 'Recommended Ages 8 and up' blurb, but paid the price by being a commercial disaster despite featuring some of the finest action figures ever made). Matchbox promotional photographs showed the Popy version (easily recognisable due to the yellow buttons at the elbows and holes in the shins) but only the modified version was sold in the West.


Standing at just under 6" tall, the figure doesn't have a huge amount of presence, it must be said. Considering the massive downscaling of the design, detail holds fairly well, with most of the key features present. The torso and lower legs are diecast as well, giving the figure a nice weight. The lack of white on the colour scheme (aside from a few paint applications) makes a surprising amount of different to the look - the head especially lacks a little defintion, blending into the shoulders too much. I like chrome as much as any self-respecting robot fan, but here it doesn't really work. The sticker on the waist is a bit tacky too.

These criticisms aren't exactly fair, I realise - this was intended as a cheaper option for kids in the market, contains a decent level of detail for an ST mould (the problem being that visually Dairugger XV/Vehicle Voltron is a very complicated design) and while there are few stickers there's still a lot of moulded detail on the robot that a lot of other designers would have used a cheaper, easier alternative for. But then I care little for context and don't worry about stating the obvious, and this figure doesn't have half the impact of its' bigger brothers.

It's not one of the most exciting ST Chogokin either. The design had few features that could realistically be scaled down to this figure (there is a knock-off ST Dairugger that separates into 15 units, which represents a good piece of work from a bootlegger - but then they didn't spend however much designing the thing in the first place...), so there's not an awful lot to do. The Falcon VT Fighter chest unit can be removed for what that's worth, but aside from that it's just a basic action figure. There is articulation at the shoulders, hips and knees, but that's all - sadly, the figure was a couple of years early to get the benefit of the rudimentary ball-joints later seen on ST toys such as Laserion or Vavilos. The leg joints do allow a few basic poses and what Matchbox desperately tried to pitch as a 'walking motion' but it's not going to wile away 'Endless Hours of Play'. They could have made the head turn easily enough, after all.


Appreciation of the small Vehicle Voltron will depend entirely on what you're after. If you are smart enough to prefer the Vehicle team to bloody Golion (seriously, it looks awful) and are just after a cheap representation of the character, it does that well enough on the whole. As a Popy ST, it's one of the duller entries I've yet come across (though that does only encompass something like four or five figures), lacking in any interesting features. As an action figure in general, it's much the same - no real faults, but there are better things avaliable in the same price bracket.

The Matchbox version is cheap, from £15 up to about £40 for a boxed one. Loose examples are often missing the removable chest plate, which really takes away from the look, but aside from that it's sturdy and numerous, so finding a complete one won't break the bank. The Popy version seems to cost around three or four times as much - obviously the launchers and sword add a little interest, but really that's a lot of