Voltron: The Third Dimension is probably the least well regarded of the three animated television series that are related to the Voltron intellectual property. Often abbreviated by Voltron fans as “V3D,” the series consisted of 26 episodes that first aired between 1998 and 2000. Unlike its cel-animated 1980s predecessor, Voltron: Defender of the Universe, V3D was animated using 3D-based computer-generated imagery (CGI) and motion capture technology. Like many 3D CGI-based television series of the 1990s, V3D looks dated today — and again like many other series of the time, V3D didn’t look so hot then either. In addition to the visual “issues” with the series, many Voltron fans who had grown up with the ’80s series generally didn’t care for the story arcs. As I expressed during two V3D-focused guest appearances on Let’s Voltron: The Official Voltron Podcast (Part 1, Part 2), I find Voltron: The Third Dimension to be a genuinely entertaining and grossly underrated program.
Perhaps the only aspect of V3D that Voltron fans seem to like is Dracotron. A doppelganger to Voltron, Dracotron is a giant robot comprised of five robotic dragons. Dracotron is featured or mentioned in three episodes of Voltron: The Third Dimension.
“Voltron vs. Dracotron”
Dracotron first appears in the episode “Voltron vs. Dracotron,” written by Scott Guy. In this episode Lotor and Hagar summon the five dragons as their intended means for their latest attempt to destroy Voltron.
During his return flight to Planet Arus, Keith in Black Lion encounters a similarly sized, muddy yellow-colored, robotic dragon that attacks him without provocation. The dragon is piloted by none other than Prince Lotor. When Black Lion fights back, Hagar conjure three more dragons. One of the newcomers, brown or maroon in color, strongly resembles Lotor’s dragon, and the other two, colored blue and green, strongly resemble each other.
Lotor reveals to Keith that the dragons are under his control. Lotor’s dragon scratches Black Lion, and the rest of the Voltron Force launches to help their friend. After a brief battle between the five Voltron lions and the four dragons, Lotor withdraws and tells Hagar to unleash a fifth dragon, called Draco. Hagar initially refuses, saying that “Draco is a hundred times more powerful and unpredictable than the others,” but eventually she concedes, but warns Lotor that she won’t be held responsible for what happens.
The camera then closes on a planet, and then a mountain on its surface. At its base is a shallow cave, and inside it is an enormous robotic dragon restrained by chains but ferocious and breathing fire.
Back on Arus, in the Lion Archive, Princess Allura reads from an old text:
Just as there are five lions, so once there were five dragons. When the five dragons united to form a single being, they were more powerful than all of the Arusian space knights. It took every ounce of my ancestors’ powerful magic to chain Draco, the Black Dragon.
This star map shows the location of his lair. Draco could destroy half the galaxy if he were ever set free.
The Voltron Force mobilizes to intercept Lotor before he can free Draco. Meanwhile Lotor and Hagar arrive on the planet on which Draco is chained. Hagar is frightened by the mere sight of Draco. The lions arrive, and Lotor keeps them at bay while Hagar uses her magic to unchain Draco.
Despite the best efforts of the lions, Draco soon combines with the other four dragons, forming a Voltron-like robot. The brownish dragon forms the robot’s right leg. Lotor’s yellowish dragon forms the robot’s left leg. The blue dragon forms the robot’s right arm. The green dragon forms the robot’s left arm. Draco, the Black Dragon, forms the robot’s torso and head.
As the dragons unite, Lotor is ejected from his dragon, and he lands on the planet’s surface, near Hagar.
The unnamed five-dragon robot unleashes a concussive blast that stuns the lions, but then it returns to the planet’s surface and attacks Lotor and Hagar, seemingly thinking that they had enslaved Draco. Lotor asks the Voltron Force for help, and they oblige, distracting the dragonbot long enough for Lotor and Hagar to escape the planet’s surface.
The lions form Voltron. The dragonbot gives Voltron a pounding, until it spots Lotor’s warship attempting to escape. The dragonbot begins to tear the ship apart, so Lotor again asks the Voltron Force for help. Allura reveals that, “According to the Lion Archive, dragons have one weak spot, under the scales on the back of the neck.” Lotor gets the robot to bend his neck down to expose the weak spot, a rectangule-shaped port of some kind, and Voltron fires a missile into it. Voltron then forms Blazing Sword and cuts off the robot’s head and forearm, plus the tail of the left-arm dragon.
The robot’s head seems to explode with a strange glow, and the headless robot seems to tumble into a space vortex. Lotor and Hagar leave to fight another day.
In the episode “Dark Heart,” written by Mark Young, Princess Allura expresses self-doubt at a monument to her deceased father, King Alfor. Alfor’s spirit then appears and recounts how he defeated a powerful enemy using unconventional means.
These glyphs [on Alfor’s monument, which depict what appears to be Draco] tell of the day I faced the most savage of enemies. No weapon could master it. Then I heard a voice — a guardian spirit:
“Listen to your heart. Shed your armor. Throw aside your weapons.”
I looked the dragon in the eye, and with only my will, I tamed it, and left it in chains.
This story seems to contradict the story in the Lion Archive, as told in “Voltron vs. Dracotron.” Since the episodes of Voltron: The Third Dimension didn’t always air in “narrative sequence,” it isn’t clear whether “Dark Heart” takes place before or after “Voltron vs. Dracotron.” (In “Dark Heart,” Allura doesn’t act as if she recognizes the dragon in the glyphs, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that she hasn’t yet encountered Draco herself.) Whatever the sequence of events, in one back story, it took the magic of Allura’s ancestors to entrap Draco. In another, Alfor, advised by the voice of a guardian spirit, entrapped Draco using only his will.
In the episode “Stealth Voltron,” written by Marc Handler, the Voltron Force encounters what might be an entirely new incarnation of Dracotron.
(A synopsis of this episode is forthcoming)