Mega Review: Includes all releases
Packaging & Extras: (3.5-4.5/5)
The CMs packaging is efficiently sized (24.5 x 14.5 x 5 cm), made of thin cardboard, and usually has multiple tape strikes. Though there were 13 unique releases, there were only four different boxes made and stickers were placed on the boxes to help you determine which one you were getting, this made things trickier for those of us who can’t read Japanese. Please check the image above the Charm section to see each box, the sticker on it, and what is inside. There’s no collector’s style lid that lets you see the toy inside without opening. ALL ride armor toys came with a character figure and a bike. Also included in each release were:
1) Right and left handle bar grip hands
2) Saddle bags (top bag attached to bike, side bags attached to the hip armors
3) Bike-mode display stand (a black triangular piece)
Behind the plastic tray you’ll also find:
4) Armor-mode display stand (a plastic twig color-matched to the armor)
The hip armor and front gauntlets come detached and will need to be placed on the toy. If you’re going straight to armor mode, you can wait to attach them unit the toy is mostly transformed. Additional accessories depended on the release as follows:
VR-52T toys (Ray, Metallic Ray, standard soldier, Dark)
6) HUD that attaches to the chest in armor mode
7) 1 pair of plastic replacement swing-arm locks (original Ray and standard soldier LE VR-52T releases only)
8) Gallant in pistol configuration with hand to hold it (Dark releases only)
9) Warning about paint rub on metallic helmets (Metallic releases only)
The VR-52T General Military Use included a flyer advising users not to press down on the top of the wind screen as the screen breaking off was a common issue on the first two ride armor releases (Stick and Ray). Chrome/Metallic toys came with a flyer which I believe is meant to notify the owner that the Yellow version of the clear/metallic toy did not come with a head because CM’s was retooling to make the helmet accurate.
VF-52F toys (Stick, Metallic Stick, standard soldier, Dark) come with everything a VR-52T toy does and:
9) Heavy beam rifle attached to hand
Between the original release of the Stick toy and the later green variant and all subsequent versions, CM’s updated the hand holding the gun so it was no longer glued to the gun and could be removed. This solved a durability problem with the original hand falling off the original gun and also made it so the gun could be removed from the hand and attached to the front of the bike. Unfortunately, CMs only sold the gun attachment piece with Yellow’s VR-41H toy… which also included another gun. The general military-use release of the VR-52F also included:
10) An additional helmeted head with brown hair to swap out with the blue-haired Stick head on the toy
VR-41H toys (Yellow, Metallic Yellow) only had the two versions produced. The metallic version was rushed to be available at Summer Wonderfest 2008, launching before the regular version. As a result, CMs didn’t have the packaging or helmeted head ready for the event and sold the toy in a repurposed Stick/Ray box with a “Limited Edition” sticker on it and included a mail-away flyer for a proper box and helmeted head. Notable for the Yellow toy is how many of the accessories are intended for other ride armors. You get helmet-less heads for other characters and a new heavy beam weapon for Stick’s VR-52F, now with a better hand and an attachment piece for his bike.
6) Stick’s heavy beam rifle with hand (hand is not glued on like it was with original VR-52F release)
7) Piece to attach heavy gun to ride armor
8) 3 x helmetless heads (Stick, Ray, and Yellow)
VR-38L Shinobu toys came with:
7) Hand for camcorder
8) Helmetless head
VR-38L Houquet toys set the high water mark for accessories including:
6) Heavy gun (no hand attached)
7) Additional fixed posed hand for use with the gun
8) Helmetless head
13) Mint (Annie) figure in riding position
14) Mint (Annie) figure in standing position
15) Metallic helmeted head (a white pearl helmet comes attached to the rider)
The curious, final release of the line was a set of two rider figures without corresponding armors. One is the iconic Jonathan Wolf (Robotech name) and the other is a nameless soldier. Since there are no motorcycles, the package size shrank along the width dimension to be: 23 x 14.5 x 5cm. To reiterate, this set does NOT include any motorcycles but it does include the two figures as well as:
1) 2x pairs of handlebar gripping hands
2) 2x hand holding a Gallant in pistol configuration
What’s included here seems like it would have been a fun convention item. It also seems like a better move would have been to just release Wolf with his armor and print his name and info on the bike accordingly. As its own retail release, there are a plethora of other accessories that should have been included to make this more compelling. HBT canisters, rifle style Gallants, a campfire, or even a Lunk figure (like Mint/Annie was included with Houquet).
Charm & Collectability: (3.5/5)
2007-2009 was a renaissance for Mospeada seeing releases of the Aoshima New Century Allow Legioss, Toynami Beta, CM’s Legioss/Tread set, Mega House Ride Armors, these CM’s Ride Armors, and the Beagle/Toynami Masterpiece Ride Armors. The license that needed a little attention got a whole lot of it and the result wasn’t good for any of the companies involved. Despite having metal, intricate designs, near perfect transformation, and representing the most comprehensive line of ride armors ever made, the toys languished on shelves and were eventually sold out at clearance. CM’s did not survive the Great Recession which does help boost their collectability today as they have many elements of a fun toy and no possibility of being reissued. One of the more alluring aspects of the CM’s ride armor is its scale. At 1/18, the character figures stand a bit more than 10 cm tall and pair well with other action figures allowing you to blend genres and licenses on your shelf. The scale does mean that these toys are small. The bike is about 10.8 cm long while the armor stands just short of 12 cm. Though there is a bit of metal in the construction, the toy is very light at 75 grams (combined rider + bike). Some variants of the toy are more popular than others with the dark and metallic figures generally demanding the least demand despite their limited production run and the main cast going for far more than their original MSRP. See the info graphic above for a full release schedule with MSRP and quantity produced.
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (8/10)
Beginning with the riders themselves, CM’s did a very impressive job. Though all of the figures are the same height, the hero riders do have the appropriate painted on details and facial features to make them readily identifiable. The unknown soldiers sold with ride armors had no painted on details, the unknown soldier sold as part of the set with the Wolf character did get some paint on the boots.
Despite their size, these toys are impressive interpretations of the original mecha. Sure, the wheels come up too high in armor mode but to rectify that CMs would have needed another mechanism in transformation and this product is so fiddly you’ll immediately be happy they didn’t try to pull that off. The level of tampo-printed detail is remarkable. You may have noticed that no decals are included with these toys and largely that’s because you shouldn’t need any. Given their size and construction, it’s no surprise there are numerous, obvious screws, particularly on the back of the toy. The flap on the boots is a little large but it does a good job concealing the joint behind it. There is a large seam running down the chest in armor mode but ‘large’ is relative as the product is small and I find the seam less evident in person.
The helmetless heads included with Yellow’s bike are not a very good likeness to the characters they represent. Yellow did get two-tone saddlebags and his bike that look slick. Yellow’s bike also reflects the unique elements from the show including a sloped front fascia and a single exhaust pipe plumbed under the seat instead of off to either side. Yellow also gets a new helmet that reflects the differences in the line art; his visor extends to his chin where as other helmets have a chin guard.
Houquet’s bike has the updated fascia as sheen in the show and she receives a brand new, appropriately feminine, rider figure complete with large shoulder pads. The only knock on the bike itself are the large curved gaps in the front fascia which accommodates the shoulders in armor mode but look off in bike mode. The included Mint figure, which is not articulated, does a good job capturing the essence of the crew’s tagalong, right down to the “ET” on her hat.
Shinobu’s bike is a repaint of Houquet’s with the only entirely new element being the included camcorder which is spruced up with painted buttons and a clear view finder. Shinobu’s face, like all of the other characters, may not have been perfectly captured but it’s good enough for me at this scale.
The green soldier versions of Stick and Ray’s toys differ from their Stick/Ray counterparts only in that their undergarments are green and the painted on details, some of which were identifying, have been entirely omitted.
I’ve heard the clear/metallic offerings were an homage to Takara’s Microman series of toys. They generally feature clear bodies and metallic accents but the Houquet figure has neither, just a pearlescent sheen to her red and white colors. Whereas the white is transparent on the Stick/Ray figures, and metallic on the Yellow figure, it’s simply shiny white on Houquet (other than the bonus metallic helmeted head).
I like that CMs gave the VR/52F/T dark and soldier versions modified heads so they don’t look like the heroes, it was curious they hadn’t done that for the ‘green soldier’ versions.
These toys are feature rich for their size. You get:
1) Fully articulated riders capable of assuming natural-looking riding positions. Since CM’s beat MegaHouse to market by a month, they were the first ride armor toy that could claim this.
2) Integrated flip out foot rests for the rider
3) Integrated attachment points for the saddle bags
4) Saddlebags with functional hinges
5) Opening visors on the helmets that reveal facial detail
6) Nearly perfect transformation (at a minimum, the gauntlets disconnect from the front fork and are tabbed into the arms.
7) Hip armors that connect to the knees to achieve the powered suit effect
I would have liked the ability to attach Stick’s big gun to the front of his bike (a feature that was added on later releases). Other premium features like an integrated pop up HUD, integrated kickstand, or true perfect transformation that would allow the gauntlets to remain attached to the forks would have been asking too much. In fact, these toys would benefit from a bit more simplicity. For example, the hip armor, which is about the size of a thumb, has a mechanism that swings out to be a foot stand, a peg that flips free to become the leg attachment, a slot for attaching the armor to the toy, and a peg for a slip-on saddlebag. With all that going on in such a small space, there’s bound to be something that could go wrong, and the weak link is that foot stand which connects by the tiniest pin and becomes easily unseated. The headlights don’t really lock into position so will also pop free during handling. Inevitably, the parts popping out of position suck the fun out of the experience.
Many pegs are just too small to work as they’re intended, such as the pegs that affix the swing arms to the center of the bike or the chest armor to the center chest piece in armor mode. The worst evidence of pegs that are too small comes in the form of Ley’s gun which can’t connect to the front shock in bike mode (unless you pull the front cowl apart).
Never seen in the show but always daydreamed about, Yellow’s bike does incorporate his sabers into the gauntlets. They slide in and out without issue. Unfortunately, Yellow’s chest missile bays were not incorporated into the re-shaped chest area.
Yellow”s toy does include a replacement gun for Stick’s ride armor. The heavy gun now has a hand that looks like a more appropriate grip and is no longer glued (weakly) to the toy. CM’s also added an attachment piece to this release so the gun could be mounted in bike mode.
On a larger scale toy, I would have hoped for a way to reduce the big open area on either side of the VR-38L cowl. Though Stick and Yellow come with big guns that have hands already attached to them, Shinobu and Houquet don’t have hands attached to their accessories and do have the ability to stow them during riding mode.
Durability & Build: (4/10) + 1 for later releases
The first three toys CMs released had a common manufacturing issue that caused the windscreen to pop off (sometimes it arrived already popped off, other times it popped off at the slightest touch). A dot of glue remedied this problem when it did occur.
Though I never heard of it happening, the first three releases also come with plastic locks on the swing arms. CMs felt these locks were easily broken so they included a second set in the baggy that included the armor-mode display stand. Later toys switched to metal locks.
While this toy will fall apart frequently in your hand, most of the time nothing will be truly broken. You should take special care with the plastic peg on wheels. Your desperation to get this toy to stay together in bike mode may cause you to apply too much pressure which can break it. You can significantly improve the handling of these toys with some trial and error to make the parts fit more snugly.
A longer-term durability issue to watch out for is thin cracks on hinges. Many of the hinged parts are made of very thin plastic so the slightest pressure in an unnatural direction can cause stress marks or cracks.
The VR-38L toys proved problematic. The wrong screw size was used in the swing arms which creates slop in armor mode (thanks to Drifand for pointing that out). There’s also a manufacturing defect with the knees. The female characters appear to have a direction of movement that easily breaks the knee.
The underlying rider figure has robust articulation. The head is on a ball joint at the base of the neck and a swivel at the top of the neck. The ball joint allows the head to twist and cock and look up/down while the swivel extends the up/down movement which is particularly helpful for bike mode. The shoulders peg into slots in the body that pivot up/down about 30 degrees. Since the attachment is a peg the arm can spin entirely around and there’s a joint at the shoulder that allows the arm to angle away from the body. The bicep houses a first elbow joint and a twist point while the forearm features a second elbow joint allow for the toy to nearly touch its shoulders with its hands. The hands are on ball joints but there’s not much clearance so all they can really do is spin. The chest connects to the abdomen via a ball joint that allows the upper body to spin entirely around and to crunch or lean back. There is no waist but the hips function similar to Revoltech joints allowing the leg to spin, spread, move up/down. Movement of the leg in any direction is hampered by the thigh armor. The knee allows about 90 degrees of range provided you have it angled appropriately before trying to bend it. The ankle joint is similar to the hip joint allowing articulation on seemingly ever axis. While the range of movement isn’t extreme, it shouldn’t be the point that stops you from getting that pose you really want.
Total Score: (32-34/50)
These toys are so cool in so many ways… but they fall short because they just aren’t fun. You can take amazing photos with them, and set up some real eye-catching displays, but it takes a lot of work to get there. Choosing between these and the MegaHouse toys is an effort in compromise. Since CM’s completed the line, they would be my choice. If just buying one Stick ride armor toy, they were the first release for both companies and they are poor experiences. Of course, if you had the money, we have since had releases by Beagle/Toynami and Sentinel which EASILY eclipse these toys in all respects (and demand a sky-high price for doing so).
The following posts were condensed into one review on September 22, 2010:
1) Clear/Metallic Releases
2) Dark Releases
3) Fuke/Shinobu Releases
4) Soldier Limited Edition Releases
5) Yellow’s Release
6) Stick/Ley Releases
As always, I’ve saved the old posts and will update this information if I see anything I’ve missed reviewing them. Sorry about the deleted comments but I assure you this post won’t be deleted like the posts that were rendered obsolete by the mega review.
March 17, 2017, the review was updated with an release collage to make it more clear which releases came in which boxes. Additional pictures of the boxes and trays were added.