First of all, what many of us commonly know as Voltron is actually Voltron III and began life as Beast King Go-Lion. The American series Voltron: Defender of the Universe is actually based off of two anime; Beast King Go-Lion (season I) and Armored Fleet Dairugger XV (season II). In order to maintain continuity the editors of the American series called the first incarnation Voltron III (Voltron of the Far Universe) in charge of protecting the planet Arus from the evil king Zarkon. It was “of the Far Universe” because in continuity Arus was the farthest planet from Earth in the known universe. In season II, we encounter threats much closer to Earth and the Alliance builds a 15 robot team of vehicles that combine to form Voltron I (Voltron of the Near Universe) or simply Vehicle Voltron.
But, this is the history of Voltron III (in toys). I say in toys because the die-cast Voltron III has been released 5-6 times alone. And, this is not including plastic versions of Voltron III, Vehicle Voltron, the action figures, enemies, or playsets. Why 5-6 times? Because, there is a perfect Taiwanese bootleg copy of Voltron III and I don’t know if I should count it or not. So, understanding and collecting a complete die-cast Voltron III is a tremendous headache so I thought I would help some of my nerd comrades by doing some of the groundwork. I’ll break this up into several entries to make it easier to read and digest. And here we go:
Popy toys in Japan released Golion in 1981. For those of you confused, Popy toys is a subsidiary of Bandai. If you found an auction and it says “Bandai” it isn’t fake or mislabeled. Also, the company that actually produces the physical toys is Taiwanese and named Y&K. So if the auction says Y&K it is still okay.
Sidenote: Godaikin was a line of super robot toys released by Bandai America from 1982-1985 based on the Popy Chogokin series. Chogokin simply means "Super Alloy" in Japanese. It is a ficticious metal which first appeared in the Mazinger Z comic. It was adopted by the Popy toy company in 1972 as the name of a new line of die-cast metal robot toys to be sold in Japan. If it says Chogokin, it is Japanese; if it says Godaikin, it is American, either one is an original.
These toys were later recalled because the paints used on the legs contained more lead than allowed by law. I figure you are just fine as long as you don’t lick them, but here are some articles that will help you decide for yourself.
(A Government Website)
All for now.
(PS: In case you were wondering; TOEI is the animation company that first released Beast King Go-Lion and World Event Productions is the American distributor that adapted that show and released it as Voltron.)