At the recent New York Comic Con, we talked to Robert Koplar, Vice President of Legal and Business Affairs for World Events Productions, the rights holders for Voltron, and the producers of the new show, Voltron Force, which is airing on Nicktoons, about the wave of activity on the property.

It seems like Voltron is hitting a lot of new licensed categories now.  Tell us what your overall strategy is in terms of the timing of the roll-out of these new licensees, and how that ties in to the television show and the movie.
The strategy has been to reinvigorate classic fans of the old show with some really cool product.  We have Voltron fans who grew up watching the show when they were six to twelve years old, and now can have Voltron product like it’s never been done before.  We’ve brought aboard Mattel and they’ve said, okay, what’s the biggest, most awesome Voltron toy that anyone can ask for?  For someone who’s now, say, 35, and they want to show it off in their living room, what would they want to do?  What they ended up making is this giant, 23” tall, transformable Voltron, with lions you could put the pilots in.  It’s huge and it’s the real deal, it’s totally cartoon accurate.

We’ve partnered with THQ to make the first ever Voltron videogame.  Voltron is a property that lends itself so well to videogames.  Who doesn’t want to play with a robot lion that is clawing things apart and shooting stuff?

Is the Mattel range out now?
Yes.  This is their first product; it’s called Blazing Sword Voltron.  It’s this highly articulatable figure.

It’s tied into the TV show, right?
Yes.  This is tied to the classic TV shows.  In line with our strategies as a company, Mattel is reinvigorating the classic fan base with new toys that do Voltron like it’s never been done before.  For next fall, 2012, they’re going to come out with new toys based on our TV show.  So we’re going to retail with the new stuff next fall.

You mentioned the large figure; is it bigger than the one Toynami did a few years ago?
Yes, it is.  Although I’m not exactly sure what the height of the Toynami one was.

Are they still a licensee?
Mattel is our exclusive toy licensee right now.  Toynami does some great stuff, but we’re happy to have Mattel on board.  They are doing collector stuff as well as the mass market, the kids’ toys.

This first product, the Blazing Sword Voltron, we see it’s marked for adult collectors; it’s part of the adult range?

How many SKU’s in the adult range versus the kid range?
This is a very limited release they did.  I’m not sure the exact number, but it’s mostly for the Comic-Con crowd.  They had these on sale in San Diego, and they have them on sale here.  It’s sort of their first product out of the gate.  So the idea here is that you’ve never had a Voltron figure, right?  You’ve had five lions that transform into Voltron, but you’ve never had a six-inch tall figure that you could articulate.  So they said, it would be fun to do this, let’s do this for our first product.  And then off the heels of that we’ll do these five incredible, highly detailed robot lions that will transform into the biggest Voltron ever.  And they’re also doing the pilots that you can put inside the lions, which is really cool.

Are there going to be any adult toys sold through retail?
No, these are being sold exclusively through the Mattel collector Website.

How about the five new ones?
Those are also exclusive on the Mattel collector site.

Are there going to be any adult toys sold through the trade?
There are no plans right now to put collector toys in to retail.  And then the toys based on Voltron Force will be retail.

What other categories are you working on?
Comic books.  Dynamite Entertainment is doing a really cool version of Voltron.

We interviewed the writer, Brandon Thomas (see “The ‘Voltron’ Story”).  It sounds like it’s going to be a great story.
It’s truly remarkable.  He’s fleshed out these characters and he’s created this world for Voltron, where you have this live action movie in your head because it’s so intense, the battle scenes are so intense.  He builds these characters, he builds on the back stories and the motivations, and makes these characters so multi-dimensional.  The story that comes out is gripping.  It’s been really fun to read his stories.  And, we have Alex Ross on board who has done the cover for us.  He’s done a really excellent job.

The VIZ stuff (see “Viz Media Expands Kids Imprint”) is next year, right?
The VIZ stuff is in the spring.  That’s based on Voltron Force, so those are based on the new cartoon.

They’re going to be black and white manga style?

Are they using Japanese creators or American?
American.  They will feature Daniel, Vincent, and Larmina as the three heroes.  They’ll focus on the new cadets, because it will be a younger focused comic book series.  They’ve also done a great job; they’ve got some great concept artwork. We’ve seen the initial artwork for the pages and it just looks phenomenal.  The stories as well are really gripping.  It’s part of the universe of Voltron Force, so they could serve as episodes of our show.  They occur at the same time, with the same villains and the same heroes.  They are fun, creative stories.

Any other products for the adult collector?
Actually, a cool little thing is Meister has come out with Voltron-inspired watches, which I’m wearing right now.  This is a yellow lion.  They are these really high quality, nicely done watches.  They’ve been inspired by each of the five lions.  They’ve come out with red, blue, and yellow so far, with the green and black on the way.

It seems like with the toy licensing, you’re leaving the comic stores out of it.  Those are the places where the adult collectors who were watching this in the eighties shop; why was that decision made?
I think that’s a decision that Mattel made, that they wanted to have their Voltron toys exclusive to their collector site.

So they just want the names, and the retailers be damned?  Can you confirm that?
I can neither confirm nor deny that (laughs).  I think we’ll eventually have product in comic book stores.

When is the movie coming out (see “Relativity Media to Produce Live-Action 'Voltron'”)?
Where we are right now, we have Atlas Entertainment, it’s Chuck Roven’s company, who is the producer of the The Dark Knight, and he’s doing Man of Steel right now, and they just make phenomenal, phenomenal movies.  We’ve also signed a deal with Relativity Media to do the film.  We’re on track right now; we’ve hired two writers, Thomas Donnely and Josh Oppenheimer.  They are working on a script as we speak.  Things are moving along.

So nothing new in the last couple of months?
Nothing new except that the script is making progress.

Is there a target release date for that?  It hasn’t been greenlit, right?
No, it hasn’t been greenlit, so you know how these things work.  I think the very earliest you would see a Voltron movie is summer 2013, if everything moves right through without a hitch and we speed right through development.  We’ll see.