Gakken 1/20 ZDC Alloy Armor Mode VR-052F Ride Armor Toy

Review: Little, heavy, non-transformable

Packaging & Extras: (2/5)
This toy comes in a box (12.5×10.5×7.3 cm (HxWxD)) that is slightly larger than the non-transformable bike that was also 1/20 scale. The box is adorned with decent art and has a back showing off what were supposed to be upcoming releases (more on that in the next section). Inside the box you’ll find a Styrofoam tray housing the toy and a gun. My toy didn’t come with additional stickers or inserts but it’s possible the stickers on my toy were originally on a sticker sheet.

Charm & Collectability: (4/5)
This toy was part of Gakken’s ZDC Gokin line which died nearly as soon as it began. These toys promised zinc die-cast construction (ZDC). As you would expect, that means this toy features a fair amount metal (it’s only 9.8cm tall but weighs 124grams). The boots are solid metal to the knee and the wheels sit atop metal swing bars. On the back of the box you’ll see there is a picture of this release and the three releases that were supposed to follow:
VF-052F Armor Mode (this toy)
VR-052T Armor Mode – never released
VR-041H Armor Mode (complete with extended sword!) – never released
VR-052F Bike mode – released without metal content
Presumably, if the line was a hit, the other toys would have received the bike mode treatment and maybe we would have even seen a Houquet toy. Instead, the only other toy sold under the “ZDC” label was Gakken’s two mode transforming 1/55 Legioss. A 1/20 scale VR-052F Bike mode was released but it dropped the ZDC moniker and was made entirely of plastic. 1/35 scale mini armor-mode only ride armors were also produced, largely out of metal, but those boxes don’t include the ZDC label either. Gakken must have been serious about releasing the other 1/20 scale armor mode toys and shelved that idea late in the process as the Styrofoam tray Stick comes nestled in has a spot for Yellow’s extended sword. I wonder who owns the prototypes of the VR-052T and VR-041H…

Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (6.5/10)
In comparison to Gakken’s 1/20 transformable ride armor toys, this was an AMAZING likeness to the line-art, but that’s because those transformable toys are hideous. I wish they tucked in the wheels a little tighter. Compared to modern toys, there are several weaknesses. There are no translucent detail pieces here, far fewer painted on details, and simplified details in some areas compared to something like CM’s 1/18 scale ride armors. There are also issues caused by the production limitations of the era, like the cavities on the chest armors.

Design: (2.5/10)
This is a very basic toy with no frills. There is no chest-mounted targeting scope (plug in or otherwise). There is no visor that comes up or swappable head like you would expect from a modern toy. The toy holds its gun well enough to earn half a point (which you can’t always say about Gakken toys of the era). The center of gravity is good and the toy doesn’t come apart and I’m giving it one point for each of those traits.

Durability & Build: (8/10)
You’ve probably noticed that modern toys sold in Styrofoam trays include a plastic layer that separates the toy from the Styrofoam. That’s because Styrofoam has a nasty habit of stripping the paint off metal as the toy is jostled during shipping. After 30+ years in its packaging, you’ll probably notice wear on the legs of your toy. Another problem issue for the paint happens mid-bicep of the arm, particularly the right arm since that’s likely where Stick’s gun will be placed. As you lift the arm up to achieve a natural firing angle the arm presses against a sharp edge of the shoulder armor and cuts into the paint. Those two paint concerns aside, this toy is about 50% metal, feels solid as a brick, and isn’t dynamic enough for you to break it trying to do something fun with it.

Articulation: (2/10)
The head can twist, the arms can pivot up at the shoulders, and the knees can bend. While the knees bend, the hips don’t move so you can’t really accomplish much of an action shot. Don’t buy this toy because you’re going to get it into a sweet pose. It’s a stationary object with a couple points of articulation allowing you to slightly modify an otherwise static pose.

Total Score: (25/50)
This toy is a fun piece of history to own but it’s hardly a toy you need to seek out unless you’re a completist. Gakken was eager for Mospeada to be the next Macross and instances like this show they were trying to fill in every conceivable niche. Ultimately, this is one of the many Mospeada products they wish they had never green-lit at all.

Original Post: May 2, 2007
Updated: May 10, 2020, added 4K video review and higher resolution photos.