REVIEW (Updated): Motooooorcycle FREAK!
Packaging and Extras: (3/5)
This toy was available in at least five packages:
1) Gakken of Japan – Genesis Climber Mospeada with Japanese text
2) Gakken of Singapore – Genesis Climber Mospeada with English text
3) Gakken of Singapore – Henshin Robo Mospeada
4) Gakken of Singapore – Matchbox Excite Robotech
5) Gakken of Singapore – Matchbox Robotech Collectors
The boxes are generally 35.5 x 23.8 x 11.5 cm excluding the tab that extends above the top of the box on some versions (height changes from 23.8 to 32 cm if you include the tab). Inside the box you received the motorcycle toy and rider figure as well as:
1) 2x hip armors to be installed on the bike
2) 2x gauntlets to be installed on the bike
3) A kick stand
4) A heavy gun
7) Missiles for gauntlets (Gakken of Japan version only).
Due to child safety laws getting stricter throughout the 80s, the firing forearm gauntlets available on the Japanese release were removed by Gakken of Singapore and not included on any of their offerings.. No matter where the toy was made, they were all shipped in the same styrofoam tray that secured the various parts nicely. This is a quality product in a quality package. The toy includes Stick’s heavy gun which didn’t make much of a presence in the anime. The stickers do spruce the toy up and the instructions are clear for a toy that is somewhat complicated. Later premium toys would add things like display stands, HBT (“Protoculture”) cells, hands and other weapons but this was an impressive kit for its day.
Charm & Collectibility: Gakken of Japan (4.5/5), Gakken of Singapore (3.5/5)
Though there were many different boxes, there are two core versions of the toy, the one made by Gakken of Japan and the one made by Gakken of Singapore. Some people may prefer some boxes over others, particularly if they display their toys in their boxes. The manufacturer mark is located above the left rear tailpipe (as pictured). This toy doesn’t feature perfect transformation but it was the most perfect of all original ride armor toys. This toy was also popular enough to get a knock-off release in Korea under the name Cotobye (commonly mistaken as “Cotobyte”). It wasn’t until Beagle’s ride armor release in 2009 that the world finally received a truly perfect transformation Ride Armor that was clearly superior to this toy from the early 80s. Sentinel gave the world another premium option in 2018 further cooling the market’s demand for the original, premium Gakken toy.
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (7/10)
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.
As mentioned before, this vehicle relied on anime magic to transform within the series so the designer of this toy had several obstacles to overcome. It’s 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 Stick 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: (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).
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: Gakken of Japan (32/50), Gakken of Singapore (31/50)
This was my original conclusion in 2006:
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.”
Of course, after having read that review some employees left Yamato and formed Beagle* and then gave the world their amazing 1/10 scale Ride Armor toy that Toynami then imported as the Robotech Masterpiece toy. Later, Sentinel would reinterpret the Ride Armor and give us another amazing option. So, we’re finally at a place where the Gakken 1/8 Ride Armor is no longer the best ride armor you can possibly buy but, for the mere fact it was the best for nearly thirty years, it certainly deserves a place in most Mospeada and Robotech collector’s shelves.
* there is absolutely no evidence to support any of my claims
NOTE: This Review has Been Updated
Original Post Date: May 21, 2006