By Todd Matthy
You may not know Bob Koplar, but as Vice-President of World Events Productions, he is one of the most important figures behind the revival of “Voltron” and the creation of “Voltron Force.”
With new “Voltron Force” episodes beginning February 29th at 8:00 pm on Nicktoons, I present to you this interview with Bob Koplar from New York Comic Con.
Since the end of “Voltron: The Third Dimension” fans have been waiting for new episodes. Why did it take so long to get “Voltron Force” off the ground?
A lot of things have to happen first. You need to find a broadcast partner like we did with Nicktoons. Keith Dawkins, who is the President, is a huge Voltron fan. They’ve been behind us one hundred ten percent. Then there is the creative standpoint. We had to think about how we were going to reintroduce the show. In 1998 we did “Voltron: The Third Dimension” which was all CGI. It was ahead of its time because it was the first all CGI show produced in the United States. “Voltron” has always been ahead of its time. It was one of the first shows ever done in stereophonic sound. We’ve always wanted to be ahead of the curve so with “Voltron Force” we decided to take the best from both worlds by combining warm hand drawn human beings with the awesome CGI robot lions that have fluid, cat-like movement to deliver dynamic action scenes. There’s some really cool stuff we can do with the show and the thirteen episodes that haven’t aired yet have some really great action scenes. We’re excited with what we’ve been able to do.
When people talk about anime, “Voltron” is often ignored, even though it was bigger then “Robotech” and “Star Blazers.” Why do you think that is?
“Voltron” is a unique property and Anime is where it came from. I think its crossed so many genres that people compare it to “Robotech” but also to “He-Man” and “Transformers” and other western looking shows. I think Anime is really cool but it tends to be a focused, niche, market and “Voltron” crossed over into several markets. So, it’s Anime but it’s also young and fun. I don’t know if I can fully explain it but that’s how it’s been. It’s funny because World Events found the shows over in France at a programming convention. As an Anime show, it wasn’t made for kids. It was violent, there were beheadings, there were adult themes, so when our company took the show and brought it to the U.S. the original plan was pretty simple, “lets get some English speaking actors, redo the voices, and put it on the air.” It turned out to be a much more involved process then that. We had to edit storylines, remove violence, and invent the concept of a “Robeast.” In the Japanese series these were people who were turned into monsters by the witch Haggar. We made them robots thus the term “Robeast.” We hired John Petersen to do the music and he gave us that awesome, iconic, “Voltron” score which we still use to this day. We did it in stereo, put it on the air, and the rest is history.
Speaking of history. It’s been known you got Lion Voltron by mistake. You wanted the series “Daltanious” along with “Albegas.” Did you ever dub “Daltanious” or “Albegas” as a potential third Voltron?
We acquired the rights to those shows. The first show we did was “Dairugger XV,” which is known in the U.S. as Vehicle Voltron, and in most markets that aired before Lion Voltron. If you go back and watch it’s actually really hardcore Sci-Fi. It had fifteen main characters so it didn’t really catch on. Then we started airing the Lion Force episodes and they caught fire. So, rather then dubbing “Daltanious” or “Albegas” we ended up making twenty more Lion Force episodes because that’s what kids wanted to see.
Were there ever any plans to make more episodes of the original run?
Why they didn’t do more, I don’t know. My father would be a better source for that question. I think there was heavy competition at the time and the show started to run its course. In retrospect, it would’ve been nice to get more episodes out but we’re finally making them now.
Thank you very much to Bob Koplar for speaking with me at New York Comic Con.