Review(updated): Includes VR-52F & VR-52T Releases
Packaging & Extras: (4.5/5) Beagle releases, (5/5) Toynami releases
From what I understand, and this is not an attempt to be funny, Beagle hired some talent from Yamato for the creation of the packaging for their Ride Armor toys. The initial result (for the Stick toy) was a box that feels just like a Yamato product right down to the cardboard insert with instructions and decals smuggled beneath it. The box is huge, easily dwarfing all previous Ride Armor toys. A box of this size should have a collector’s style lid to cover the large window that reveals the toy inside. Having that big window with no lid to cover it will probably lead to some accidental box destructions. Toynami did better with their standard book-style box. The book-style box is large but not nearly as large as the Beagle as evidenced by the comparison pictures below (Please excuse my banged up box, I got it cheap). The extras provided are fantastic. Beside the rider figure and the bike you get:
1) a pack of HBT cells
3) Sniper-custom Gallant with strap
4) head with helmet (adjustable visor) – helmet-less head comes installed on rider figure
5) 2x right hands (Gallant grip, open), 1x left hand (open)
6) heavy gun (VF-52F only)
7) heavy gun attachment clip for bike mode (VF-52F only)
8) 1x hand for gripping heavy gun (VF-52F only)
In the next clamshell down you’ll find:
9) a display stand consisting of a base, a storage cover, and an adapter for each mode
Behind the cardboard tray that holds the clamshells you’ll find:
11) Instructions Beagle VR-52F Instruction Manual Web or Toynami MPC VR-052F Scott Instruction Manual Web
I should note that I was a little let down by the fixed pose hands. The hand that holds the gun doesn’t grip the gun tightly enough and I seemed to constantly be looking for hands that did not exist. On a down note for the Toynami, the plaque on the display stand was not updated for Robotech purposes and reveals Mospeada details. The Ray release came in a smaller box than Stick and didn’t come with the heavy gun or the accessories related to it.
Charm & Collectability: (4/5)
Ride Armor toys are a unique beast, they tend to have lukewarm sales upon release only to become hot collectibles later. I originally wrote: “We’re truly lucky to see another company take a stab at a deluxe Ride Armor toy again; the story goes that the man at Gakken responsible for the development of the 1/8 toy was demoted after its poor market performance.” Since then the Beagle/Toynami lines performed so poorly that the man at Beagle responsible for this product suffered a very similar fate to that original Gakken employee (though Gakken continued on as a company and Beagle dissolved). The exorbitant price attached to this figure assured that many people would want it and few would own it. Toynami originally intended to release 10K of this toy but then slashed that number to 3K when the economy plunged. Beagle and Toynami both drastically reduced the number they intended to create and in the end the product did not prove viable ending this line after just two models. The Toynami is differentiated from the Beagle with a different head sculpt and the addition of a serial number stamped on the bike. I wish Beagle would have done something to make Ray more desired, like include an Annie figure, campfire set, or Stick in street clothes figure. Without some sort of bonus item, the Ray and Rand releases sold much slower than Stick/Scott. If you’re considering paying huge aftermarket prices for these toys here’s some food for thought: Beagle is dead and gone, there will be no reissues. Also, the Stick/Scott figures have awful cloth suits that fall apart. There is some metal content in these toys, primarily in the kickstand and swing arms connected to the wheels. Releases were:
VR-52F Stick Bernard, January 2009 by Beagle, MSRP 24,000¥
VR-52T Ray, June 2009 by Beagle, MSRP 24,000¥
VR-52F Scott Bernard, March 2009 by Toynami, 3,000 pieces, MSRP $199
VR-52T Rand, August 2009 by Toynami, 3,000 pieces, MSRP $199
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (9/10)
Phenomenal. There are only four minor issues that keep this toy from getting a perfect score:
1) There could be more tampo printed detail.
2) The boots/feet aren’t quite big enough when comparing the toy to the line art which makes the toy look a tad uneven in armor mode (although it looks better in bike mode).
3) The waist armor on the Stick figure has been shrunk (for articulation purposes).
4) There’s a giant screw hole in the figure’s neck.
The Gakken 1/8 bike isn’t as long as the Beagle 1/10 bike but I’m guessing the Gakken is a bit under-sized to assist with its armor mode. Beyond that everything here is gravy. There is a crazy amount of detail from the handles to the foot pegs. This toy is just plain sexy including the use of colored transluscent plastic instead of paint for areas like the tail light. The tires are also thin rubber tires sturdy enough to support the vehicle, it’s very impressive.
The Ray & Rand toys lack some of the identifying details (Mars Base insignia, “MB”, stripes on hip guard). Many had hoped Beagle would plug the neck hole for the Ray release but unfortunately it was not to be.
There’s a lot to like about this toy’s design. Here’s a list of the positives:
1) This is a transformable motorcycle with a functioning suspension (not literally). There are coil over springs and the toy ‘bounces’ up and down if you press on it.
2) This toy has an amazing transformation BUT it’s not quite ‘perfect trasnformation’. The way everything twists, contorts, and comes back together forming a flexible enough power suit will leave you impressed. The transformation is a little too amazing, expect to spend a FULL HOUR transforming this toy the first time you go through the motions. Any experience you have transforming Gakken or CMs products will not be much of a benefit here. Highlights include:
3) Integrated kickstand
4) Integrated foot pegs
5) Targeting scope housing in chest. This one isn’t quite handled as masterfully but it still is pretty impressive. The scope is stored in the armor but it must be removed and reattached to go from lying down to its active position. I found it may be best just to store the scope with the other extras when not in use as it can shake down around the shoulder area and make transformation/articulation more difficult.
6) The HBT/Protoculture cannister can be removed from the bike making for some fun diorama posing. The HBT/Protoculture carrying pack is also pretty cool, allowing you to open it up, remove/add canisters, then put it back together again.
7) Stick/Scott can carry their big gun, attached to the front of the motorcycle, in bike mode. The slots aren’t the prettiest though so it was nice to see they were removed on Ray/Rand’s version.
8) Ray/Rand’s built-in gun has a pivot that moves it from the forearm into the hand.
9) When transformed, you can display the armor as a power-suit without the rider inside. It makes for a very cool display.
10) The display stand is really cool. On the downside, you can’t do a ‘popping the wheelie’ pose in motorcycle mode. On the plus side, the stand supports both motorcycle and armor modes, you can even display two toys on one stand at the same time (one in bike mode/one in armor mode or two in armor mode). If you have just one toy, the stand adapts from bike configuration to armor configuration very easily. The toy will remain steady in position even when doing flying poses. To top it all off, there’s a storage compartment that conceals all the accessories while displaying the guns.
Not everything is sunshine and gravy. There were a couple compromises and weaknesses:
1) Transformation isn’t quite perfect. Though not mentioned in the instructions, I found it necessary to remove the rider’s head before swinging the chest armor over. That’s one strike against an otherwise utterly amazing transformation.
2) The front gauntlets in bike mode don’t lock into place… although the VR-52T toys are slightly tighter this can become annoying as you’ll find yourself having to lightly tap the gauntlets straight again after handling.
3) This may be more of a build issue but the windscreen on the bikes doesn’t lock securely enough in position.
4) The use of cloth is a nice touch but it could have been better implemented as it needs to be tamped down occasionally. A more rubbery but tighter material would have been ideal, improvements were made on the Ray/Rand release but it seemed like they still hadn’t found the perfect material.
5) The toy suffers from balance issues and could have used heavier boots or a heel extension gimmick of some kind for displaying in armor mode without the stand.
If you hate long and elaborate transformations you may feel this score should be much different.
Durability & Build: (5/10) +3 for Ray/Rand due to improved fabric on figures
As mentioned in the design section, there are a few loose spots that make handling of this toy less enjoyable that could be considered “build” issues:
1) The windscreen
2) The back half of the bike
3) The gauntlets (in both bike and armor modes)
4) The helmeted head on Beagle’s Stick toy
Apply a tiny square of clear tape to the bottom of the ball on Beagle Stick’s helmeted head to solve that particular issue. Subsequent releases by Toynami and Beagle had a rougher textured ball on the heads that offered a much better fit. One of the flaps on my Stick’s boots was also loose enough where it took a lot of massaging to get it to look just right (I’m probably one of the few people who would care). Obviously anything this complex lends itself easily to being broken in transformation. Transformation does require a strong hand but I was quite surprised at how well everything handled the abuse. Many of the parts are simple ball joints which means excessive transformation will likely lead to a sloppy and difficult toy but it also means that parts that are over stressed from mistransformation may just pop off instead of breaking. After all these years of release, there’s really been only one item prone to catastrophic failure, and that’s Stick and Scott’s fabric suits; many owners saw wear around the seams immediately. Beagle/Toynami did make the Ray/Rand volume 2 toys a bit stiffer and used a better fabric that didn’t come apart so easily. As the Stick suit has aged, the foam layer has fallen apart on many Stick/Scott toys. The foam seems to dry out and crumble off.
Fortunately, the toy does have actual cloth underneath the foam so you can remove the foam completely and then dye the underlying cloth red to a pretty decent spot. The unfinished and exposed metal bits also have a tendency to look oxidized.
The only thing this toy lacks in bike mode is the ability to slightly angle the front wheel. The rider figure is perfect and can assume many natural-looking riding/maneuvering positions. Armor mode is not as great. To extend the range of motion in the arms you may want to unhook the gauntlet supports as demonstrated below (although you can obtain a pretty good range with them still attached but you run the risk of throwing the chest out of alignment). The biggest issue in armor mode, as is so common these days, is balance. The relatively small feet don’t help anything but all the joints are stiff and maneuverable enough that with a lot of patience you can pose the toy without the help of the stand. Of course utilizing the stand (and if you’re not going to be hovering around the toy at all times, use the stand) allows for wondefully dynamic poses although the figure will still be hindered a bit by the full suit of armor (just as you would expect pretty much anything wearing armor to have its range of movement limited). It was harder than I had hoped to get a convincing look of Stick firing his missiles while looking through his scope but that’s mostly due to the limitations of the tiny scope. There’s enough articulation in the ankle to easily balance the riding figure on one leg.
Total Score: (40-43.5/50)
These are easily the best Ride Armor toys ever made so it will be up to you to determine whether or not they’re worth the high price of entry. For those of you waiting for a Fuke/Rook or Yellow version, you can stop waiting, it’s not going to come out. While this might be a sturdy and durable product it’s definitely an adult collector’s item so if you’re looking for something to play with in a reckless fashion definitely stick with the MegaHouse offerings. If you’re curious as to why Toynami made their changes (other than the new packaging and plaque) I would have to assume it’s largely so that they could sell their versions as numbered limited editions. It doesn’t work very well to sell a toy in one market as limited when it could potentially be reproduced exactly in another market. Honestly, I think Toynami is just giving themselves a headache since high end toys like this are made in such limited quantities it’s unlikely people would buy it because of the number. It’s a shame really that neither MegaHouse nor CMs have really gotten their acts together on the smaller and cheaper Ride Armor toys as this Beagle will now leave many fans left with the decision to potentially buy one of two subpar products or one ridiculously priced but excellent product. Now that I have a Beagle, my view of both the CMs and MegaHouse products has diminished. It’s a shame the line will never be complete, I know many of us were looking forward to owning all of them.
Original post date: January 23, 2009
Updated January 26, 2009 – additional pics were added
Updated August 17, 2009 – Toynami specific pictures/content were added.
Updated October 5, 2011 – This review has been updated, line art comparisons, standard definition video review, pictures, and Rand/Ray content were added condensing two separate posts to one.
Updated June 10, 2018 – Included 4K guide on how to repair the damaged Stick/Scott suit. Added comparison photos from Sentinel Ride Armor review.
Updated July 8, 2018 – Included 4K transformation guide from armor mode back to bike mode.
Updated October 21, 2018 – Included 4K tranformation guide from bike to armor mode
Updated November 18, 2018 – Included new 4K review!