Mega Review: Includes standard, dark, and limited edition releases
Packaging & Extras: Stick and Ley and all VR-52F/T versions (3.5/5)
The release armor, quantities, and packaging for the CMs toys were as follows (duplicate numbers represent simultaneous releases):
1) Stick: Box 1 (Green with pictures of VR-52F and 52T), red label, mass produced, January 2008
1) Ley (aka Ray): Box 1, blue label, mass produced, January 2008
3) VR-52T Soldier: Box 1, green label, 100 units at Winter Wonderfest 2008
4) VR-52F Soldier: Box 1, red label, green dot, 300 units, Summer Wonderfest 2008 and F3
4) Stick Clear/Metallic: Box 1, red label, red sticker, 300 units, Summer Wonderfest 2008 and F3
4) Ley Clear/Metallic: Box 1, red label, blue sticker, 300 units, Summer Wonderfest 2008 and F3
4) Yellow Clear/Metallic: Box 1*, red label, “Limited Edition” sticker, 300 units, Summer Wonderfest 2008 and F3
8) Yellow: Box 2 (Blue Yellow-specific box), mass produced, July 2008
9) Fuke: Box 3 (Red Fuke-specific box), mass produced, October 2008
10) Shinobu: Box 4 (Black box for Dark Armors), 1000 units, December 2008
11) VR-52F Dark: Box 4, 1000 units, December 2008
11) VR-52T Dark: Box 4, 500 units, December 2008
13) Fuke Clear/Metallic: Box 3, “Limited Edition” sticker, 300 units, Winter Wonderfest 2009 and CMs events, (300 units)
The CMs packaging generally feels cheap, with multiple tape strikes, and no collector’s style lid that lets you see the toy inside without opening. Stick and Ley versions come with the following:
1) Rider figure with helmeted head
4) Triangular bike stand
5) Targeting scope
6) 1 set of extra fixed posed hands
7) Armor-mode stand (twig)
8) 1 pair of replacement swing-arm locks (only with original and VR-52T LE versions)
Stick’s figure also comes with:
10) Gun attached to fixed-pose hand
Packaging & Extras: Yellow versions (4/5)
Yellow’s comes with all the same extras included with Stick’s toy except the pair of replacement swing-arm locks which were no longer necessary since CMs upgraded these to metal parts. The clear/metallic version of Yellow’s toy excluded an accessory and was packaged in the wrong box with a mail-in certificate to get the proper packaging and extras. Yellow’s toy benefited from packaging specific to his bike as well as including:
11) Rider heads without helmets (Stick, Ley, and Yellow)
Packaging & Extras: Shinobu (4/5)
Shinobu’s toy didn’t come in a unique box but it did have extras on par with Yellow’s. As with Yellow’s, the extra swing-arm locks weren’t necessary. The targeting scope was also dropped but I don’t consider that a loss since Shinobu was always using her view finder anyway.
10) Camcorder with flip out screen (no hand attached)
11) Helmetless Shinobu head
12) Additional fixed posed hand for use with camcorder
Packaging & Extras: Fuke (4.5/5)
Fuke came with the greatest amount of goodies. Like Yellow and Shinobu, she has no swing arm locks because of the improvements CMs made. Like Shinobu, Fuke lacks the targeting scope but I don’t believe her ride armor is supposed to have one.
10) Fuke’s gun (no hand attached)
11) Helmetless Fuke head
12) Additional fixed posed hand for use with the gun
13) Mint (Annie) figure in riding position
14) Mint (Annie) figure in standing position
Charm & Collectability: Ley, Shinobu, VR-52T/F Dark (2.5/5)
Ley toys are never highly sought after since they’re eventually less fun versions of the Stick toy. The CMs Ley also suffers from being poorly constructed. While Shinobu and the other dark ride armors may have been good for CMs mold milking purposes they still proves easy to find despite their limited quantities. Since CMs produced the most complete line of Mospeada products there’s always a chance that some day these will be collector’s items… that day appears to still be a ways away. All of these ride armor toys originally MSRP’ed in the ballpark of $70 US which seemed ludicrous then and is typically quite a bit more than what they sell for today.
Charm & Collectability: Stick, Yellow, Fuke (3/5)
The pic above is (Left to right) Gakken 1/8, Gakken 1/20, Gakken 1/20, Gakken 1/35, CMs 1/18 as specified by the manufacturers). I’m being generous by including Stick in this scoring group since he seems to have had the largest quantity produced and can still be found with minimal searching at or below MSRP. Yellow and Fuke sold fairly well and seemed to be released in smaller quantities but they too can be found with a bit of searching for less than MSRP but not quite at the bargain basement prices of the Dark ride armor releases.
Charm & Collectability: Clear/Metallic and Soldier releases (3.5/5)
Since these CMs toys feature a minute amount of metal (swing bars and chest cover in armor mode) and transform with minimal parts removal there’s a chance that some day collectors will look on these toys more favorably and, if that happens, then these might become hot items. At present, it seems someone trying to sell theirs off may have a hard time recouping what it cost them. You can tell the soldier releases that came with the ride armor toys apart from the soldier riding figures that came with the Wolff Riding Figure Set but the slight amount of tampo on them.
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (8/10)
This is really the strong suit of the CMs 1/18 line. As you can see from the line art comparisons, the figures aren’t bad representations even at this tiny scale. 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 pretty remarkable (with exception of the generic ‘soldier’ types). You may have noticed that no decals are included with these toys and largely that’s because you shouldn’t need any. Some people have felt the screws were too obvious but generally that means higher quality than a glued together product. There is a large seam running down the chest in armor mode but ‘large’ is relative as the product is so small and I find the seam less evident in person. The helmet-less heads included with Yellow’s bike are not a very good likeness to the characters they are meant to represent. Yellow did get two-tone saddlebags and his bike and Fuke/Shinobu’s do have the necessary changes to differentiate them from Stick’s/Ley’s. CMs paid attention to the differences from bike-to-bike right down to the different helmets. Even the extras have nice details such as the buttons and view finder on Shinobu’s camcorder. It is too bad CMs couldn’t figure out a way around the large round cut-outs in the cowl of the Bartley-style bike that are necessary to provide clearance for the shoulders in armor mode. The clear/metallic offerings will likely be loved/despised by different types of people but the only thing that rubbed me was how similar the clear/metallic Fuke was to the regular release. I like that CMs gave the VR/52F/T dark and soldier versions modified heads so they don’t look like the heroes.
These toys are over-designed for their scale. 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 in this case the weak link is that foot stand which is connected by the tiniest of pins and becomes easily unseated (watch my video review). The headlights don’t really lock into position so those too will become easily unseated with moderate handling. In the end this toy is just too full of little pins and pegs that can be unseated which will inevitably suck all the fun out of it for the owner. Usually the 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 comes no where near connecting to the front shock in bike mode (unless you pull the front cowl apart). While Yellow’s bike does come with pull out blades in the forearms, and Stick, Ley, and Yellow all come with missile targeting sensors, don’t expect any bike to have a door that opens up to reveal internally stowed missiles (which only Yellow is supposed to have). While Stick and Yellow can’t attach their guns to their bikes (and thus have hands permanently affixed to their guns) CMs did rectify this on the women’s bikes. Fuke’s gun and Shinobu’s camera can be attached in bike mode.
Durability & Build: Stick, Ley, & VR-52T soldier (4/10)
These three toys represent the first editions of the CMs ride armor toys. All three came with extremely delicate windscreens which all new owners should take great pains to avoid. There were several complaints of these windscreens being broken straight out of the box so if that happens to you just apply a spot of super glue (that appears to be how CMs resolved this on later releases). These toys also came with plastic swing-arm locks (and replacement swing-arm locks) although I still have never heard of anyone breaking them. 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 though as your desperation to get this toy to stay together in bike mode may cause you to apply too much pressure to snapping those parts together which may cause the peg to snap when you try to take it apart (see pics). Generally speaking, the fit of the parts here is just way too loose and things only get worse once you’ve handled these toys a few times.
Durability & Build: Fuke, Shinobu, Fuke Metallic (5/10)
These toys all included sturdier windscreens (with obvious additional glue) and metal swing-arm locks. You should still exercise some caution with the windscreens but I’ve never heard of anyone receiving a broken windscreen with these toys. I did find Fuke to be a big disappointment after the improvement I had seen on Yellow’s toys. What was most annoying about these toys is that CMs used the wrong screw size in the swing arms which creates slop in armor mode (thanks to Drifand for pointing that out). The next big bummer was when my Fuke figure had a piece of her knee joint break off… it appears the extra slop that made the figure loose straight out of the box allowed the kneed joint to spin into an awkward angle so it broke when it bent.
Durability & Build: Yellow, VR-52F solder, VR-52F/T Dark, Clear/Metallic Yellow/Stick/Ley releases (6/10)
You get the upgrades of the improved windscreen and swing arm locks as well improved fit and finish that actually makes it seem like handling these toys isn’t impossible. My Yellow was so nice and tight I never felt compelled to use the stand in armor mode. I had so much fun with my Dark VR-52T/F and Yellow toys that I considered making the score a 7 here but I think that’s more a function of how bad the first releases were.
There are loads of points of articulation and loads of ball joints but there are also lots of impediments that will keep you from getting that full range of movement. On its own, the character figure is extremely impressive. In armor mode the small stand the toy comes with will be necessary but it’s questionable how well that rounded piece of plastic will help keep this toy erect in an extreme pose on a glass shelf. Beyond that I’ll try to let the pics speak for the fun you can have with these things.
Total Score: Ley (31/50)
Ley’s never been a fan favorite as far as ride armors go which is why we haven’t seen many toys of him even though his figure is so similar to Stick’s. In the case of the CMs, you get all the problems of Stick’s toys with a character fewer people want.
Total Score: Stick (31.5/50)
These are flawed toys that cost a lot of money. When they first came out they were a bit easier to stomach because of the dearth of ride armor toys we’d had for years. A short while later we had a glut and it was obvious just how flawed this toy was. If you want a good VR-52F toy, hunt down the soldier version and pretend that’s Stick or find the clear metallic versions. Pics above show a comparison to the Mega House toy which also had a very poor first showing as well as a line art comparison.
Total Score: (32/50) VR-52T Soldier
This toy should be a hot collector’s item since it was released in such limited quantities but it has all the same problems as the Stick and Ley toys. Only extreme Mospeada-philes should spend their money and effort hunting down this toy.
Total Score: (32.5/50) Shinobu
This toy is a definite step up from the first three releases but it has the problems of Fuke’s release without the charm. If you’re a fan of Shinobu, for whatever reason that might be, this is the only game in town.
Total Score: (33/50) VR-52F/T Dark
These toys are actually pretty solid Stick/Ley substitutes in black. They have less tampo-printed detail (as you’d expect since they’re anonymous) and their paint scheme drowns out some of the detail but they do handle MUCH better than the original Stick/Ley releases.
Total Score: (33.5/50) Fuke
This toy is a slight improvement over the first three releases in terms of its ability to be handled but it has a couple big things going for it. First, this is the only Fuke toy that has made it to market since Gakken’s atrocious 1/20 scale transformable line. Second, this toy comes with two Mint figures which go perfectly with the CMs gashapon set.
Total Score: (34/50) VR-52F soldier, Clear/Metallic Stick/Ley/Fuke, Yellow
The clear/metallic Stick and Ley are the best alternatives to the very flawed first releases. The VR-52F has all the same improvements and is equally hard to come by. The clear/metallic Fuke has all the benefits of the regular Fuke and is even more rare. Of all the standard releases, CMs did Yellow the best. Included above are some pics of him squaring up against his Mega House incarnation and a line art comparison.
Total Score: (34.5/50) Clear/Metallic Yellow
I think this is the toy to get out of the entire CMs line up. Finding one with the metallic helmet might be exceptionally tricky to track down. The pictures above demonstrate the differences between metallic releases and their regular release counterparts. Remember the general guideline. A 35/50 is a completely average toy and anything below that is recommended for diehards only.