ANIMATED INSIGHTS BY SHANNON MUIR takes you inside Shannon’s latest reflections on her passion for animation as a medium, and other animated insights about life. To catch up on all posts, check out the Animated Insights portion of the website!
THIS FEATURE: Adventures at VOLTCON 2021!
I know this is a bit delayed, I meant to do a write-up last Tuesday but due to flight delays I did not get home until late Tuesday last week.
This is the third year of VOLTCON, a very small-scale convention that primarily celebrates the history of VOLTRON but also pays homage to other animated robot-themed shows of the time. This year, that was evident in special guest Flint Dille, known for his work on THE TRANSFORMERS. The convention opened Friday night with a dinner for VIP level attendees to have dinner with many of the special guests, which I was fortunate to be a part of.
Saturday kicked off with a panel on the voice actors of VOLTRON and all its iterations, hosted by Marc Morrell and Greg Tyler of the Let’s Voltron Podcast, for which I joined them by request. This had been planned as the opening panel prior to Jack Angel (best known as the voice of Zarkon, but did others in the original series) just days before the convention. Generally it went as planned, though some minor tweaks were made to highlight Jack Angel.
Apparently the LET’S VOLTRON Podcast has released the full video of this first panel online. I didn’t talk as much as I expected (I talked more in rehearsal) but since I hadn’t been in front of a group of anyone for over three years (last panel I can recall is LOSCON 45 in 2018), I actually was pretty happy with myself all things considered. Hopefully I’ll get more opportunities in the future.
After that came the Opening Ceremonies, at which a custom made shield, Blazing Sword, and helmet were presented to Bob Koplar in remembrance of the passing of his father, Ted Koplar, the driving force and passion in bringing VOLTRON to life, both financially and otherwise. After that, Marc and Greg took the stage again, this time to interview Line Producer Benjamin Kaltenecker from VOLTRON: LEGENDARY DEFENDER.
Flint Dille had a Saturday panel on writing animation in the 1980s afterwards, followed by Con favorite band The Shake-Ups, performing homages not only to VOLTRON but the love of animation in general. Bob Koplar followed this with a panel that, while billed as the 10th anniversary of VOLTRON FORCE and did acknowledge it, appropriately spent time letting us learn more about his father Ted Koplar and how much VOLTRON meant to him – moments not to have been missed and a highlight of the weekend.
A panel on the art of cosplay hosted by prior cosplay winners Eric Stocker and Marika “Mama Voltron” Levine got everyone in the mood for an incredible contest featuring not only characters from every VOLTRON Lion iteration, but other shows such as ROBOTECH. Such amazing work!
After getting away for dinner, I returned to catch most of the “shipping” panel – which for the uninitiated, involves people discussing where they see possibilities for character romantic relationships generally not pursued by a series. Interesting thoughts, well presented and moderated. “Mama Voltron” returned to the stage to discuss the evolution of primarily mecha robots in anime. After that came a group viewing of the VOLTRON: LEGENDARY DEFENDER episode “The Feud,” which I have to confess is more enjoyable for me in a group viewing than how I felt initially seeing it; I described it to my husband if it might be perhaps similar to the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” phenomenon (and no, I haven’t seen that either). The night ended with a screening of TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE with live commentary by Flint Dille.
Sunday started with a detailed look at the Blade of Marmora, a secret organization within the VOLTRON: LEGENDARY DEFENDER storyline, led by “Mama Voltron” and Kataryna Lantgen. Meanwhile, a trivia contest got underway in the atrium which I ended up participating on but on the side that did not win – nothing like a little humility now and then. While we were doing that, Eric Stocker returned to the stage for a more in-depth panel on cosplay and costume making. After Flint Dille returned to the stage to talk more about his time in the gaming world and specifically what went into making his book THE GAMEMASTER, Anthony Hon of Rojack Studios walked the audience through the history of VOLTRON video games.
The last panel before closing ceremonies focused on the original Vehicle VOLTRON series from the 1980s. Greg Tyler ran point on this one, as this particular series is his personal passion. Marc Morrell returned with him to the stage, along with myself by special invitation. Again, as before, I was honored just to be included. As a guest of the media guests, I was not billed or expected. If you’ve followed my past blogs, you can see by the timeline I didn’t manage to get things lined up for VOLTCON after the program went to press in any case.
The closing ceremonies carried over the same fun that filled the whole weekend. The team is small but they throw their passion into it and it shows. It reminds me of Bob Koplar’s story about his father Ted fighting to get VOLTRON on the air even though others didn’t believe in it. One man’s passion grew exponentially over all this time. Let that sink in a minute. I think I’m letting that sink in more than a minute.
There are so many personal amazing moments, some specific to the Con and some that happened because I got to meet up with people at the Con, there are too many to list. Suffice it to say I’d do it again, including the trip home that ended with an unplanned stay in Phoenix overnight on American Airlines’ dime.
However, I’ll be the first to admit I forgot a couple of things. People tend to go to events like this to forget what’s been going on and have fun. That’s not to say I don’t or can’t, but this particular year was unusual to say the least for me. Not only did this particular year carry personal significance for me, but this was the first major event I’d attended on any scale for over two years. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy things, because I did. I would do it all over again. Where I think I had issues was detaching post-Con from my level of intensity with what was going on, returning to “real life” as some might otherwise say. I wasn’t prepared for some of the challenges I met actually dealing with people in person again. That will probably be one of the challenges I have to face for some time to come, and the Con was just a microcosm of that.
I keep needing to remind myself, though, of one of the takeaways that came out of VOLTCON. While I do need to make sure I am courteous of other people, I can’t dwell on mistakes or even things I think may be mistakes (which I do a lot, I do not like making mistakes). Stepping ahead is the path to better things.
A week later, I am still working on the idea it has come and gone. I’m hoping that maybe next year we can do this again, under even better circumstances.