“From days of long ago, from uncharted regions of the universe, comes a legend;
the legend of Voltron, Defender of the Universe, a mighty robot, loved by good, feared by evil…”
These are the opening lines to Voltron: The Defender of the Universe. A popular cartoon children in the 80s loved and even adults nowadays still rave about. After more than 30 years since its release, the LEGO Group announced in 2017 that they will be releasing an official LEGO Voltron set. Its creator, the fan artist behind this five-in-one buildable toy, is a Filipino by the name of Leandro II R. Tayag.
Leandro, or Lendy, grew up in Manila. As a child, he loved watching cartoons like Super Robots, Transformers, Power Rangers, and Macross. He was also fond of 80s shows like M.A.S.K., He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and of course, Voltron: Defender of the Universe.
A software architect based in Malaysia, Lendy builds and collects toys based on the shows he loves to watch. “I like customizing toys and was into Gunpla for some time,” he shares. “I have always wanted to scratch-build my own mechs but always seemed to not have enough time. Customizing is a lot of work, especially when painting the models, not to mention the clean-up process afterward.” In 2014, his brother introduced him to LEGO bricks and discovered that it could be a good medium for scratch-built creations. Soon enough, he was experimenting with new designs and building them using LEGO bricks.
When Toynami previewed their new 16-inch Ultimate Voltron Ex in 2015, Lendy thought of building a brick-built one for himself. He drafted a few initial designs but unfortunately, could not get it right. He tried his luck again after a year and finally came up with a LEGO-workable design.
Lendy first built the Black Lion. He posted this on Facebook and other forums. The response was beyond what he expected. It was that overwhelming that it inspired him to work on the rest of Voltron’s lions. With support from his brother, he submitted his Voltron model to LEGO Ideas, an open-source platform where builders can submit their creations in the hopes that through online support, their work could become an official LEGO set.
At first, Lendy’s only motivation to submit was to see how people will respond to his Voltron model. “I was only hoping to get 1,000 supporters. I never expected that Voltron will get 10,000 supporters in three weeks!” In the LEGO Ideas platform, getting 10,000 supporters allows for the submitted model to be evaluated by a team from LEGO for its commercial viability. He was happy to get the milestone support level quickly but did not put much hope into it. Soon after, he received an email from LEGO Ideas and after a few video calls, the rest was history.
Although the release date for the set has yet to be announced, Lendy has agreed to fly to Manila and be with fellow Filipino LEGO enthusiasts at the upcoming fan event, ABRICKADABRA 2018. ABRICKADABRA is a yearly event organized by the Philippine LEGO Users Group (PhLUG). He will be at the two-day event to share his experiences and display the rest of his original LEGO creations. “Thanks to LEGO, I am given an opportunity to create, not only for myself, but for others as well,” Lendy says. “I am happy to be able to share my passion to the whole world through the Voltron set and I'm proud to be able to represent Filipino creativity at its finest.”
Lendy Tayag is member of the Philippine LEGO Users Group/PhLUG and will be a special guest at ABRICKADABRA 2018 LEGO Fan Festival on May 26 and 27 at the 4F&5F Event Halls of Century City Mall in Makati City.