REVIEW (Updated): Motooooorcycle FREAK!
Packaging and Extras: Japan (4/5), Singapore (3.5/5)
As you’re likely aware, Japanese toys benefitted from more lax child safety laws. This lead to Japanese-sold products having cooler accessories like guns that really fired. In the Ride Armor’s case, Stig received gauntlet missiles that actually fired. It’s not really a huge plus but it’s fun none-the-less. The second picture below shows the blue caps used to eliminate this feature in the Non-Japanese varieties of the toy. The original Japanese packaging is also pretty stylish in comparison to the Singapore releases via Henshin Robo and Excite’s Robotech line. No matter where the toy was made, they were all shipped in the same styrofoam tray that secured all the various parts very nicely. This is definitely a quality product in a quality package. For some odd reason the toy includes an over-sized gun that looks similar to the gun Houquet/Rook used. It’s not accurate but it’s a nice touch to make the armor look even tougher. The sticker decals do really spruce the toy up and the instructions are clear for a toy that is somewhat difficult to transform.
Charm & Collectibility: Japan (5/5), Singapore (3.5HR, 4RT, 4.5MB, 4.5GCM/5)
Some of you may be having problems with what exactly the scoring means on the Singapore variant. First is Henshin Robo. Henshin Robo products are a bit of a red-headed stepchild in the Gakken world. They’re precisely the same as the Robotech product but true MOSPEADA fans generally prefer the Japanese product and Robotech fans want the Robotech product. The second score is for Excite’s Robotech packaged Cyclone. It’s the most common version of the toy released in the United States. The rarest Singapore version of the toy was the one briefly packaged and distributed by Matchbox. It is more collectible than the Henshin Robo and Excite versions but it is precisely the same toy which makes it less desirable than the original Japanese release that featured the firing weaponry and the MOSPEADA label. Arguably equally collectible as the Matchbox version is the Singapore version that was sold in Japanese-style packaging. This final variant looks similar to the Japanese but has English writing on the back explaining the Genesis Climber backstory and the transformation of the bike. This toy remains the best Ride Armor product available making it highly desired regardless of where it came from or how it was packaged. The manufacturer mark is located above the left rear tailpipe (as pictured).
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: Japan & Singapore (8/10)
Considering the era in which this toy was made, the sculpt is truly amazing! Easily recognizable as the vehicle from the animation which is truly impressive when one considers the huge amount of “anime magic” that went into pulling off this vehicle’s transformation in the show. In fact, the sculpt is so good that the toy still looks great by today’s standards. There are a few areas that could use some improvement but its genuinely difficult to find any major faults on a purely physical appearance level.
Design: Japan & Singapore (8/10)
As mentioned before, this vehicle relied on a lot of anime magic to transform within the series so the designer of this toy certainly had several obstacles to overcome. It’s really quite a wonder to see how well they succeeded. However, as wonderful as this toy’s design is there is also one glairing deficiency that greatly detracts from its enjoyment. The rider figure can not ride! You can get the rider to kind of straddle the bike but it’s certainly not convincing. Other issues are the difficulty in getting the clip to lock underneath the rider’s rear in armor mode (it’s pretty scary for a toy this old to try to force anything). The design of the toy also fails to support a lot of articulation, note the difficulty encountered when trying to get Stig to aim his missiles forward. Also, don’t expect to see the shoulder guidance system here, just a sticker indicating where it should be.
Durability & Build: Japan & Singapore (8/10)
This toy has a lot of small tabs, pegs, and hooks and while it seems some of these parts could be easily broken they are actually surprisingly durable. There are lots of small tabs though and this is certainly not something you want to man-handle and I would think a child would quickly manage to break something. The transformation is complicated and patience is a virtue. Trying to force anything would like cause one of the tabs, pegs, or hooks to break and they all seem pretty vital. Just the same, when fully transformed in either mode the toy feels hefty and solid and I can imagine that it would actually take a fall fairly gracefully (although I would never dare test that).
Articulation: Japan & Singapore (4/10)
Well, the honeymoon had to end somewhere. I was a bit generous on the design side but this is where the piper gets paid. The rider figure has some neat points of rotation and mobility but overall it just doesn’t work to help much of anything. There is no swivel at the waist so the ride armor will always be facing forward with the legs. The knees connect to the chest when the Ride Armor is equipped which limits the leg movement as well. This leaves the arms as being the major point of articulation but those are hindered by the vehicle’s large chest. Add that to the fact that the rider can’t truly ride the bike and the result is a dismal score.
Total Score: Japan (37/50), Henshin Robo (35/50), Excite (35.5/50), Matchbox/GCM (36/50)
This is a fantastic toy. In fact, it’s so great that it’s depressing. Why depressing? If Gakken could make this toy in the early 1980s why hasn’t anyone since made anything comparable for ride armors? With the wonders Yamato has pulled off in the Valkyrie market just think what a modern company could do with the ride armor. In fact, this toy could easily be used as a base. Lots of modern tweaks could be implemented to improve the sculpt and dramatically improve the articulation (hopefully without too much of an expense to durability) and I have to imagine it’d be a surefire winner. If Yamato believes there’s enough of a market to sell the Garland then you’d have to think Toynami could sell a Cyclone. Back to the subject at hand, if you’re a vintage toy collector, a fan of transformable motorcyles, or a huge Genesis Climber MOSPEADA (Robotech The New Generation) fan then you need to pick up one of these. Don’t expect the toy to be poseable and you won’t be let down. Update – Okay, Toynami and some other companies have announced that we can expect new Ride Armors soon (undoubtedly because they read this review and realized how right I was). Be sure to check back here for reviews of these new toys when they’re available!
NOTE: This Review has Been Updated
Original Post Date: May 21, 2006