Ask any ’80s kid what the best cartoon from their childhood was and there is a very good chance that they’re going to say Voltron. The syndicated animated series was produced by World Events Productions, which adapted a Toei Animation anime series called Beast King GoLion. At the time there were no English translations, so the team from World Events Productions simply edited out some of the extreme violence in order to make it all-ages appropriate and then cut the footage back together, building their own story along the way. The story followed five young pilots who each controlled a robot lion that when combined would become Voltron, the robot guardian of the planet Arus.
The series called Voltron: Defender of the Universe was an unexpected smash hit for World Events Productions. They would go on to turn the original anime series Beast King GoLion into 52 individual episodes and then produce another 20 original episodes just for the US television market. There was a follow-up Voltron series that was assembled from an unrelated anime series called Armored Fleet Dairugger XV that featured 15 vehicles that would assemble into another giant Voltron robot, but it wasn’t nearly as popular as the version made from Beast King GoLion. Over the years there have been several attempts to revive the series that were either poorly received or commercially and critically unsuccessful.
But just this month Netflix partnered with Dreamworks animation on a brand new series based on the Lion Force Voltron called Voltron: Legendary Defender, and the series has proven to be quite popular. Just in time for the revival, MyMiniFactory designer Jurica Pranjic has designed an incredible fully-articulated 3D printable replica of Voltron. Just as with the original die-cast metal toys from the 1980s, this amazing 3D printable version is completely transformable. Each of the five lions, once all of the 3D printed parts are assembled, is a fully-articulated action figure all on its own. They can be transformed into the individual robot components and then assembled into the complete Voltron robot.
There are dozens of small, intricate parts, and 3D printing and assembling all of the Voltron robots is simply a huge 3D printing project. The 3D files include everything that is needed to build the Black Lion which forms the body of Voltron, the Red Lion which is the right arm, the Green Lion which is the left arm, the Blue Lion which is the right leg and the Yellow Lion which is the left leg. Pranjic separated all of the files based on each individual lion, so they are easy to keep track of. He also included a ton of visual references on the model’s MyMiniFactory page to help assemble each individual lion, including detailed exploded views of the lions. The 3D models were designed in Fusion 360 and made to be 3D printable on printing beds as small as 4.7 inches. So Voltron should be 3D printable for just about everyone no matter what printer you have.
Pranjic does warn that all of the parts will require a lot of post processing work in order to smooth out the striation marks and many of the parts will require supports of some kind. He suggests 3D printing the individual parts using PLA with a 1.2mm wall thickness, layers set to about 0.1mm and with a 20% infill for the best results. In total, 3D printing his entire Voltron model required Pranjic to use more than 1.6 pounds of filament and it took several days to print all of the parts. Once assembled as the complete robot, Voltron stands an incredible 44cm (17.3 inches) tall.
While the parts are far too detailed to be reduced in size without affecting how they will print, there is no reason that the parts can’t be printed larger. In fact, a MyMiniFactory user from comments is planning on doubling his version and building a massive 88cm tall (34.5 inch) version! That’s the size of a toddler! This is probably one of the best 3D printing projects that I’ve ever seen, it is incredibly intricate and detailed, and it just looks so cool.
I’ve already test printed a few of the smaller parts and they print wonderfully, although I did have to do some creative part orientation in order to get them to print correctly. The parts are designed with virtually no margin of error, so be prepared to do a lot of sanding and filing to get everything to fit together properly.
This is not a project that you’re going to be able to get done in an afternoon. Relationships won’t take as much commitment as it will take to complete your own Voltron, but if the finished product is anything like the few parts I’ve made it is going to be well worth the time and effort. You can download all of the STL files for Voltron Defender of the Universe for free at MyMiniFactory. Discuss further in the 3D Printed Voltron forum over at 3DPB.com.