Review: Mospeada is BACK! Includes Stick, Ray, and Yellow Versions
Packaging & Extras: (3.5/5)
This toy comes packaged in a matte box adorned with lovely art by Mercy Rabbit (who also has some art in the Mospeada Complete Art Works book that inspired this flavor of Ride Armor). The box is made of very thin cardboard, there’s no flip-top lid, and at 30 x20 x 10cm you may be surprised how small the box is (especially if you’ve handled a Beagle Ride Armor or Toynami MPC Cyclone lately), you’ll be even more surprised when you pull out the tray and find the box could have had less depth. Inside you’ll find the motorcycle and the riding figure as well as:
1) Alternate helmet-less head
2) 3x pairs of fixed posed hands (Fists come installed, 2x riding position, 2x trigger position, 2x open)
3) Display stand
5) Heavy gun (Stick only)
So if you’re comparing notes to the Beagle toy, the current standard bearer of Ride Armor toys, you do get an additional set of fixed posed hands… but you don’t get two Gallant weapons, a case of HBT containers, stickers, or the ability to stow your option parts in the display stand. I thought it was curious that the HBT cannister in the bike is removable but there’s no set of fixed posed hands included that can grasp an HBT cannister naturally.
The box for Yellow’s ride armor features more lovely Mercy Rabbit art and is otherwise the same in all respects to the two armors that preceded it. Sentinel did sweeten the pot to try to generate more interest. You’ll find the same four basic extras outlined above as well as:
4) Instructions unique to Yellow
5) 3x saddlebags attached to a frame which come attached to the motorcycle
6) Gallant in pistol configuration
7) Gallant in rifle configuration
In a larger scale I would have preferred the Gallant to be a single item with components that could be swapped out to achieve the desired configuration (with unused components having a place in the saddlebag) but getting two separate weapons is beneficial as it lets you deck out the whole team. While it’s still a nice bonus, the rifle configuration gun has a butt that is too large to use naturally. I love the saddlebags. They can be installed on any other ride armor toy, they can be removed from their support frame and used individually for diorama purposes, and they open by means of a concealed/extending hinge.
Charm & Collectability: (4/5)
Sentinel based their ride armor toys on Aramaki’s modern interpretation of the mecha rather than their original depiction in the anime Genesis Climber Mospeada (adapted outside Japan as Robotech: The New Generation). The first widespread appearance of this modern reimagination was included on the cover Aramaki provided for the Mospeada Complete Art Works book. This “Modern Mospeada” appears to draw much of its inspiration from earlier artwork on the “Proto Mospeada”, an attempt to envision the early prototype of the Ride Armor. While it’s a cool way to make something new, it’s not hard to envision people using that as an excuse to cling to their Beagle Ride Armors (which are such good representations of the cartoon design, it would have been difficult for Sentinel to improve). That said, the Beagle line never made it past Ray while Sentinel has provided Yellow and teased a Houquet (Rook) variant. The Sentinel toys also has some metal in their construction, nice rubber tires, and retain perfect transformation so the elements are here for a hot collectible. At a bit less than 220 grams combined, this toy is significantly lightly than the chunky Gakken 1/8 toy (388 grams) or Beagle 1/10 (350 grams) but much more substantial than the MegaHouse toys which didn’t even make 100 grams. At about 18 cm long in bike mode and 17.5 cm tall in armor, the toy measures more like 1/11 scale but certainly close enough. Could a future release of these Sentinel Ride Armors be throw-backs to the original designs? Perhaps, but it looks like it would be difficult. Releases so far include:
VR-52F Stick Bernard, April 2018(reissued Nov 2018), MSRP 20,000¥
VR-52T Ray , May 2018 (reissued Nov 2018), MSRP 20,000¥
VR-41H Yellow, November 2019, MSRP 20,000¥
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (9/10)
This section is difficult to judge since this toy is based on a couple pieces of art Aramaki produced of an updated VR-52T (Ray’s variant). Unlike the Beagle, there’s no giant screw hole in the neck. The cloth on the figure looks good and it doesn’t seem like it will be prone to the same flaking issues that plagued the Beagle/Toynami Stick/Scott figures. Overall, I’d say the riding figure is fantastic. There are some changes to the rider outfit I really like. Some of the cloth has been removed from the belly area, the helmet has a new shape (though I’m not sure it’s a feasible shape), and there is some new painted detail on the bike. While many previous rider figure toys have struggled with putting a good boot together, the Sentinel boot looks fantastic and the sensor that gets exposed is a nice clear plastic bit rather than a painted circle. I’m sure the helmet-less head will have both fans and critics, I thought it was close enough. There are a few elements of the redesign that may rub people the wrong way. I’m not a fan of the new helmet visor design and I’m less a fan of the fact that it’s not transparent and has a tribal pattern of some sort engraved on the inner-surface but those things agree to the art.
The bike Is a bit more problematic. There is no painted detail on the gauge cluster… just blank real estate. The engine compartment has some big holes in it but there isn’t enough art to let us know if this is a deficiency. While there is plenty of molded detail in the engine area there are no paint apps to make things pop. There is a nicely painted HBT container above the motor. Ya know, if they were going to re-envision the Ride Armor in the Mospeada universe where there’s a super battery called HBT, why not make it electric and ditch the big central engine area and exhaust pipe detail entirely? Some may also take issue with the fact that this redesigned ride armor has gauntlets that extend well past the front wheel, the rider’s position on the bike is more natural of a road racer than an off-roader, and the new mud guard above the front wheel.
Armor mode is a little unbalanced with a bulky upper body and which is compounded by how large those jets are that pop out from the wheels. I’ve heard people complain that the mud guard on one side but not the other makes the armor asymmetrical. This is probably why the mud guard is a dark color and I didn’t find it to be a distraction. Beyond those items, armor mode looks amazing and photographs very well. While there are a couple elements of this new design I don’t absolutely love, overall, I would give high praise to the separate riding figure and the vehicle in both modes.
Ray’s VR-52T lacks some of the paint apps you will find on the VR-52T. On the bike, the hip armors no longer have stripes and the shoulder armors lack the Mars Base insignia and “21”. On the figure, the boots don’t have the “MB” on that flap above the foot and the shoulder pads have the same insignia and “21” deleted from them. Beagle did something very similar with their Ray release under the premise that Ray was just a scavenger, not a soldier, but it sort of ignores the notion that Ray scavenged a military vehicle that would have belonged to somebody. The gun on Ray’s bike has been the topic of some criticism. The redesign has a smaller barrel and the gun has less bulk, like it’s just a typical Gallant-style weapon attached to the front of the bike. The artwork also showed a tube of some sort attached to the gun that didn’t make it over to the toy.
Like the original VR-41H from the show, Yellow’s bike has several differences from the VR-52 that extend beyond the unique gauntlets. The primary differences are the more angular front fascia and the exhaust being channeled beneath the seat rather than either side of it. In a move that surprised me, Sentinel also made Yellow slightly taller than Stick and Ray. As you can see from the comparison pics, though this might not be a true-to-the-anime interpretation of Yellow’s VR-41H, it is easily the best-looking Yellow ride armor ever made. Some people weren’t fans of the individual missile ports on the front fascia. Like the VR-52F, the gauntlets are very long in comparison to the original design.
There are some nice touches immediately evident when you remove the motorcycle from the plastic tray. Some highlights include:
1) Swing out footrests
2) Removable HBT cannister
3) Ability to stow the heavy gun on either side of the bike (the gun even has a collapsing grip and rotating shoulder rest to make that work)
4) Integrated rotating and pivoting kick stand
5) Free spinning rubber wheels
6) Perfect transformation (no head removal!)
7) All parts peg together in armor mode allowing you to display the armor off the rider
8) Pop out jets from the wheel hubs
There are a few things you don’t get though:
1) No ability to turn the front wheel (nobody has pulled that one off yet)
2) No targeting scope in armor mode (in this interpretation, the HUD is within the helmet)
3) No spring-loaded projectiles in the VR-52F gauntlets
If you’re looking for a more direct comparison to the Beagle, this toy doesn’t have a coil-over suspension or an integrated scope in the chest. This toy also doesn’t have the Beagle’s brutal transformation that requires you to remove the rider’s head (I always had to do that with my Beagles). The display stand here is much simpler than the Beagle and does not provide storage. Installing the included fixed posed hands can be very challenging. They get placed onto a peg that is also a ball joint so it moves around in a very small cavity. The connection is very tight so you need to apply a lot of pressure to a peg that moves and if it moves just a little bit the hand will no longer fit in the cavity. Of course, once the hand is on there it’s locked in pretty tight.
Yellow’s VR-41H added a couple more design highlights:
9) Accommodates an appropriately slightly taller rider
10) Has integrated chest missiles with flip up doors that can be used in either mode
11) Has retractable swords in the gauntlets
Durability & Build: (6/10)
Unfortunately, after the release of Yellow’s bike a common durability issue was discovered. The hinge that connects the front of the bike via a thin plastic ring has commonly been cracking, sometimes it has been stressed or even cracked during the manufacturing process. A best-case scenario break would still allow the toy to be handled and likely resolved by reinforcing the crack with glue. A worse case scenario break might force you to glue the toy in your favorite mode. This doesn’t seem to be a universal issue, but it is very common and is likely made worse by handling the toy in armor mode. Sentinel is aware of the issue so there’s reason to be optimistic that any future reissues or new releases will employ some sort of fix.
An issue that I haven’t seen anyone else have, so probably one of those odd manufacturing issues, was a broken peg on the connection of the front fork/gauntlet of my Yellow toy. I noticed during transformation that the part was attached crooked. Being crooked, the part was very difficult to rotate. Once I was able to rotate, it cracked off as it was placed into position against the rider’s back. Unfortunately, the way the connection of the toy to the gauntlets is made, breaks are not repairable so neither this issue, nor the one above, can be repaired and will result in a toy that only functions in one mode.
The Riobot Ride Armor is tight and made of ball joints and as you struggle to get a piece to move it’s not uncommon to cause another piece to become unseated or to pop off its ball joint entirely. There are also a couple parts that aren’t quite tight enough. The worst culprit are the flaps on the boots where “MB” is painted (on the Stick version). They sit atop tiny ball joints and pop off frequently during handling (this was made less prevalent on later reissues/releases but still can happen). I preferred Beagle’s approach, having these parts just sort of hang in position. Insufficient gluing caused a piece to come off my boot where the hip armor attaches and the seat pop off the bike. This isn’t a big deal, they look like they can easily be glued back into position. It looks like the part that popped off the boot may be a common issue as the hip armor requires a lot of force to peg in which strains this piece on the boot a great deal. Unlike the Beagle, where a painted foam was applied over the fabric of the rider, the Riobot uses standard fabric which seems far more durable. Unfortunately, upon first handling my Ray toy split his pants on the back. There are very few poses where it would be noticeable but it’s a bummer none-the-less.
As mentioned previously, it would be great if some manufacturer could figure out how to get the front wheel to be able to pivot (necessary for slick popping a wheelie poses, if nothing else). The riding figure here is absolutely superb, my favorite of all riding figures and the Beagle was no slouch. If you’re a fan of motorcycle mode, the rider being so dynamic will allow you to have a lot of fun. Things are decidedly less fun in armor mode. While you can get the figure to stand with the armor on, there are balance issues so you shouldn’t be shy about using the stand. The stand itself does allow a nice variety of different poses but it’s not without its weaknesses. Given the nature of the armor and the various parts that frequently pop off during handling, a good approach is to pick the pose you want to achieve, then remove the arms and hip armors and pose the underlying rider, then figure out how to reassemble the toy in the new position. Simply trying to move everything at once will likely cause parts to fall off. With that strategy in mind, you can achieve a huge range of dynamic poses.
Total Score: (39.5/50)
I had a lot of fun with this toy in bike mode. In armor mode, I did have fun getting some great poses, but it felt much less toy-like given how high maintenance the mode is. Since most of us are adults that do less swooshing and more ‘sweet pose on a shelf’ stuff, the required patience of armor mode may not be that big of a deal. So does this toy dethrone the Beagle? From a price perspective it’s a bit cheaper so that may offset the smaller size and the reduced accessories, especially in an era where we now expect to pay more for premium, niche market toys (the conversion rate is also much improved from 2009 for those of us buying in US dollars). Sentinel was also very wise to go with a brand-new look since it eliminates many direct comparisons that may have been made to the still amazing Beagle toys. It would have been cool if Sentinel had purchased the Beagle molds, refined them, and relaunched the line as a Riobot item (including that mold for Houquet we saw teased!) but these toys offer much of the same greatness and some new tricks in a slightly smaller, less expensive package. If you can get past the fact they aren’t the strict representations of the original anime designs that the Beagle was, there’s plenty here that will impress and it’s easy for me to recommend for all Mospeada fans and fans of transformable motorcycles. If transformable motorcycles and Mospeada aren’t your thing, you should still consider this if you really love the look and don’t mind the notion that the armor mode requires a bit of patience.
Original Post Date: May 6, 2018
Updated May 20, 2018: Included information and pictures for Ray’s release. Added 4K video review of Ray and Stick.
Updated March 15, 2020: Included content relating to Yellow’s VR-41H