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Classic Media Ready to Form 'Voltron'

2 Jun, 2011 By: John Latchem

Classic Media has entered into a licensing deal for home video rights to the Voltron brand, a property of animation production house World Events Productions. The first DVD under the agreement will be the Aug. 16 release of Voltron: The Legend Begins, which compiles the first seven episodes of the 1984-85 animated series “Voltron: Defender of the Universe.”

The show tells the story of a group of pilots who defend the galaxy from the armies of evil King Zarkon using five heavily armed robot lions that combine to form a mighty robot warrior known as Voltron.

“The robots have become so iconic, it’s phenomenal,” said Robert Mayo, SVP and GM of U.S. home entertainment for Classic Media. “The show is about these great pilots, but they are never as good as they are when they act together. It’s kind of become a pop culture phrase that when things come together they form up like Voltron.”
The complete run of “Voltron” has been released on DVD before, most recently eight volumes of the series from Media Blasters from 2006 to 2009. But Mayo said those were pricier boxed sets aimed more at original fans and not growing a new audience for the franchise.
“We’ve decided to pare down the offerings a bit and put out single-unit DVDs with a lot of content on them, which we think will be more accessible to the mass-market audience we’re trying to reach,” Mayo said, adding that the episodes have been remastered for the new DVDs.
The original “Voltron” series was created using footage from Japanese anime programs and dubbed dialogue in English. The Americanized version actually consists of two storylines, with a vehicle-based Voltron in addition to the better-known lion version.

Classic Media, through distributor Vivendi Entertainment, is offering The Legend Begins at $12.98. Extras include “Voltron 101,” a primer on the show’s characters and mythology; a Voltron art slide show featuring professional fan art; and a preview of the upcoming “Voltron Force” animated series set to debut June 16 on Nicktoons.

Mayo said Classic Media is a production partner on the new series and also will be handling those DVD releases in the future.

But, according to Mayo, Classic Media’s focus for now is just on the original lion “Voltron” series from the 1980s, though he said Classic Media’s distribution deal may also eventually include the 1998 series “Voltron: The Third Dimension” as well. Mayo said Classic Media has no plans for releasing the Japanese versions.

Classic Media’s DVDs come as part of an overall Voltron marketing push surrounding the new series that also includes new toys and a video game, plus episodes being made available on iTunes.

Mayo said Classic Media’s plans will continue in November with a second DVD containing the final seven episodes of the original lion series, followed by a best-of DVD early next year and, depending on how those sell, a complete-series set around June 2012.

He said the final make-up of the complete series is yet to be determined, such as if it will include just the lion series or the vehicle Voltron as well, but that it will likely include the Fleet of Doom crossover movie and a collectible.

“What we don’t want to do is price it out of a market reality,” Mayo said.

Toy and cartoon franchises from the 1980s have enjoyed a surge in popularity in the past decade, and the success of the “Transformers” films with their similar style of robot-fighting action should bode well for “Voltron.”

“Our ideal goal is to have people who were fans of the show when they grew up share it with their kids who are now in a similar age group,” Mayo said. “The ‘Voltron’ fans are out there.”

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