All photos by Danny Wicentowski
From a Comic-Con of long ago, from some warehouse owned by Mattel, comes a legend
: A really big statue of Voltron, Defender of the Universe. For the next several days, the mighty robot will be standing guard from atop a fountain on Maryland Plaza in the Central West End.
Just look at this thing. Majestic.
And that sword? Blazing.
There's good reason for the famous mech's appearance outside the offices of World Event Productions. The original run of Voltron was aired on local channel KPLR (Channel 11) in 1984, the result of a harebrained idea
from then-owner Ted Koplar, who founded World Event Productions in hopes of striking gold in the kids' television business.
Koplar had gotten his hands on the rights to three Japanese anime shows. One was titled "Beast King GoLion," and after some new voice acting and content editing (to remove graphic violence), the show debuted to wild success and helped usher in a wave of Americanized anime. Today, Voltron makes its Netflix debut on a brand-new series from Dreamworks Animation, Voltron: Legendary Defender.
"We’re celebrating," says Bob Koplar, who grew up watching the show his father helped create. (He also served as the show's first test audience.)
Now president of World Event Productions, he explains that the statue was "happily borrowed" from toy maker Mattel, which had originally built the giant robot for use in the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con.
Having already watched the new Netflix series front-to-back, Koplar raved about the show's fluid animation and season-spanning plot-lines. This is a show that's meant to be binged.
"You have to watch all of them," he says. "I just encourage people who grew up with this show to introduce it to your kids, pass it along to another generation and hopefully they’ll love it as much as their parents did. I think they will. It's really a beautiful show."
So far, the reviews have been generally positive
, with the highest praise
reserved for the show's elegant and action-packed animation.
Can't get enough of Voltron? For more on the mighty robot's unique St. Louis history, make sure to check our 2011 cover story
chronicling the twists and turns of the show's creation and beguiling success.
See also: Voltron prepares to recapture the universe from a small office in St. Louis
Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_ Towski. E-mail the author at Danny.Wicentowski@RiverfrontTimes.com