Inquirer Super

The secret story of the Funko Pop! Voltes V

By: Ruel S. De Vera

How do you combine two of the things that drive Filipino collectors absolutely crazy? By combining the collectible of the moment with a cultural property that’s been ingrained in Filipino pop consciousness since 1978. We are talking, of course, about the Big Boys Toy Store Exclusive Funko Pop! Voltes V figure, available—seriously—in the Philippines!

In 1977, the Japanese animation company Toei Co. Ltd. began airing a mecha anime show on Asahi TV called “Chodenji Machin Borutesu Faibu,” which translates into “Super (or ultra) electromagnetic Machine Voltes V.” Outside of Japan, it is simply called “Voltes V.” Larry Chan, a Filipino businessman of a company that would become known as Telesuccess Productions Inc., was looking for a Japanese anime show to license and air in the Philippines. He acquired the license, brought it over, had it translated—in the process introducing Pinoys to the Bozanians, Prince Zardoz, the Guos the Armstrongs and the the Lazer Sword—and had it dubbed into English by Filipino actors. In 1978, “Voltes V” began airing on GMA TelevisionArts on a Friday evening. Soon, it was the most watched show in all of the Philippines. But on Aug. 27, 1979, “Voltes V” was banned by the Marcos government because of the show’s “harmful effects.” This was particularly cruel for fans because the show was left unresolved. The popular wisdom at the time was that the Marcos martial law government had banned the show because Filipinos identified too much with its themes of an oppressed people rising up. It defined the generation of martial law babies who would not get to see how “Voltes V” ended until after martial law was lifted.The national super robot

But “Voltes V” had already become part of Pinoy popular consciousness. The love for “Voltes V” has been passed from generation to generation. Pinoys continue to collect everything Voltes V to this very day.Still manning the Camp Big Falcon of licensing is Chan. “Our doors are always open to prospective licensees. However, we need to follow certain protocols, terms and conditions sent by our principal. Moving forward, we are working with a number of reputable suppliers to bring high quality, worthwhile and reasonably priced Voltes V products to our fans and collectors. Please look for our unique Voltes V hologram stickers on every duly licensed Voltes V product. If it does not bear and exhibit our authentication hologram stickers, it is definitely an illegal piracy,” he said via email. Through the years, Bandai (which through POPY and Godaikin released the first die-cast combining Voltes V toy in 1977) has been releasing different versions and scales of the iconic super robot through the year, often quite expensive because of the engineering and materials demanded by modern adult collectors. There’s a much anticipated Bandai DX Soul of Chogokin Volt-In-Box figure, considered by many to be the ultimate iteration of the Voltes V toy, that is due to be released at year’s end at a retail price of roughly P40,000+. But behind the scenes, Pinoys were about to have a Voltes V collectible of their own.

Funko, Inc., is an American company known for its Funko Pop! line of licensed vinyl bobbleheads. The Philippines has a very robust Funko Pop! collecting community, and one of the catalysts is Sean Madrazo’s Big Boys Toy Store (BBTS) chain, which offers a mind-blowing selection of Pops. Pinoy Funatics have seen Madrazo and BBTS at work when they released their first Philippine exclusive licensed Funko Pop! last year with Mars Ravelo’s Darna. But Madrazo and Funko had been working on an ultraelectromagnetic secret project for years now. “First consideration always is would it be feasible for local collectors? So Voltes V! What’s the most iconic thing for the Philippines?” Madrazo told Super. Madrazo first approached Telesuccess and made sure to get Chan’s blessing. Then through local Funko distributor Bankee Holdings, they approached Funko with their pitch, and were asked to get certain requirements from Telesuccess, which they submitted. And in 2018, they got Funko to say yes! “I am quite aware of the Funko Pop! craze. Actually, Sean was not the first one who approach us for a Votes V Funko Pop! Figurine license. There was another party who talked with us several years ago. From what I gathered, they could not get Funko, Inc. to work with them. Then last year, Sean of BBTS approached us to talk about their Funko Pop! project. It took us only a few meetings to finalize everything. Sean really did his homework.. When he showed us the Voltes V pop design from Funko, Inc., we knew it was a winner. We were very happy for him and knew that the project was going to happen,” Chan said.

Pop! goes the Pinoy collecting world Telesuccess was very involved in the design process as licensor, because they had to send the design specs and style guide that would go into turning the iconic super robot we all know into a Funko Pop!. And look: It is the cutest Voltes V ever! “We are certainly very much involved with all our licensees,” Chan said. “We made sure that their products met our strict design and quality standards, we are finicky with every minute detail of Voltes V. It is definitely a pleasure to work with companies like Funko, Inc. and BBTS who know their business. And even after we had approved the product and packaging designs submitted by Funko, Inc. and BBTS, Funko, Inc. would do further due diligence in Japan before commencing to manufacture the items. They went to verify the BBTS’s Voltes V license with Toei Animation, who in turn referred them to the rightful owner, Toei Co, Ltd, and finally back to us at Telesuccess. We confirmed the license of BBTS and gave the go signal to Funko, Inc. to begin the manufacturing process. This gives you an idea on how carefully Funko, Inc. and the industry reveres and respects Intellectual Property Rights and Copyrights.”Once it was clear the Funko Pop! Voltes V was happening, BBTS set about selling it. There were two preorder windows where you could buy just one Voltes V Pop! at P1,195, or a mystery box set where you could buy one Voltes V Pop! and a random nice Pop! for P1,995. Now, the Voltes V Pops are on their way here. Madrazo ensures they have set aside a number of the Pops to be sold on Lazada and Shopee. But only the boxed set—the one with the Voltes V and the random nice figure for P1,995—will be available. “We are trying to encourage more people to collect Funko Pops,” Madrazo explained. “And so we hope this set will do that.” This version of Voltes V will only be available in the Philippines and Madrazo and BBTS are already thinking about what they’ll do for an encore. Chan is ecstatic at the thought of a Funko Pop! Voltes V figure available to Filipinos. “I am certainly personally thrilled and overjoyed by this cute and lovable Voltes V Funko Pop. We thank Funko, Inc. and congratulate Sean and his Big Boys Toy Store for making this very rare Voltes V Philippine exclusive a reality for our Voltes V fans and collectors,” he said. “I can’t wait to get my hands on the Philippine Exclusive Voltes V Funko Pop! figurine. As with all genuine Voltes V products and toys, they will surely appreciate in value. This would be a most fitting Christmas present to your loved ones, everyone loves Voltes V. Let’s Volt in!” To read about the other robots of Voltes V’s era, read today’s Inquirer Plus. Visit inq.news/inquirerplus.