Cartoons

Voltron, Defender of Nerd Expectations

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We’ve discussed — well, argued — about how franchises should and shouldn’t be updated on TR. As older nerds who want the new incarnations of our favorite cartoons/games/toys/whatever to live up not just to how they used to be, but our idealized imaginations of how they used to be, we’re tough to please. This is especially true of character designs. However, I don’t think it’s impossible to add a modern sensibility to ’80s classics, making characters that appeal to today’s kids while remaining essentially true to the original concepts that nerds love. It might not be easy, and I know a lot of companies don’t bother — they just go for the new kids — but it can be done. I’d say the Transformers designs in the War for Cybertron game were perfect examples of appealing to both new/modern and old/nerdy audiences. And I think we can add the new Voltron cartoon to the list.

reasonable Voltron_Poster_final0906.jpg

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I believe this is the first look at the designs of the lions and titular robot from the upcoming Voltron series, as shown at MIPCOM in France. I’m told the color isn’t final, so there’s no need to freak out about the redness of the Black Lion. But notice how the Lions have been updated and given more distinct individual characteristics, but remain true to their classic designs. And though we can only see Voltron in silhouette, I would have no trouble identifying it as Voltron without any other context. Now, compare that to that Voltron movie concept art I posted awhile back:

Thumbnail image for voltronexcl1-big.jpg

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I suppose it’s more modern in the sense that it’s overdesigned, but I would honestly have thought it was a Bayformers design unless someone told me specifically it was Voltron. And I’m not being shitty, really. So well done, Voltron team. Now, if you only keep the Can Can-dancing space mice…

About Author

Robert Bricken is one of the original co-founders of the site formerly known as Topless Robot, and its first editor-in-chief, serving from 2008-12. He brought the site to prominence with “nerd news, humor and self-loathing” as its motto, raising it from total internet obscurity to a readership in the millions, with help from his savage “FAQ” movie reviews and Fan Fiction Fridays. Under his tenure Topless Robot was covered by Gawker, Wired, Defamer, New York magazine, ABC News, and others, and his articles have been praised by Roger Ebert, Avengers actor Clark Gregg, comedian and The Daily Show correspondent John Hodgman, the stars of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Rifftrax, and others. He is currently the managing editor of io9.com. Despite decades as both an amateur and professional nerd, he continues to be completely unprepared for either the zombie apocalypse or the robot uprising.