Mega Review: Includes all variants
Packaging & Extras: (3.5/5)
Toynami signed on to distribute these toys outside of Japan so there’s a chance the one you purchase will have a Toynami sticker applied to it. There was some hope that Toynami might repackage these toys entirely (as they later did with the Beagle MPC product) but that never came to pass. The boxes for these toys lack collector-grade frills such as a flip-top lid. The toy is featured prominently in two windows in front and the box is adorned with images of the toy in various poses. Box size is inoffensive at 18 x 25 x 8 cm. The toy is nestled in plastic trays with a stand taped to the back of the plastic. VR-52F toys come with the following:
1) 2 pairs of fixed pose hands (open and handlebar grasp, fists come on the toy), and an extra right hand (attached to heavy gun)
2) helmetless head
3) Targeting scope
4) Kick stand
5) Heavy gun (attached to hand)
In a baggy taped to the back of the plastic clam shell you’ll also find:
6) Display stand (with adapter so you could lean the toy against it or mount the toy)
Behind the cardboard sleeve the plastic clamshell sits atop, you’ll find:
8) Stickers *
* While stickers were included with the event exclusive black variants, stickers were also available for regular releases, but they were only available at select retailers. MegaHouse later offered the stickers in a mail-away campaign. At the Mega Expo in 2008, MegaHouse handed out a weapons package that included the same stickers packaged with the event exclusive ride armors.
Ray’s VR-52T comes with the same stuff as the VR-52F releases with a couple exceptions. You won’t get the heavy gun, but you still get another right hand, this time for grasping the VR-52T’s cannon. You also get:
5) Second gauntlet, bare armor plate.
What is that? On the right side of the VR-52T’s front wheel is a big gun connected to an armor plate. MegaHouse included a bare plate like Ray has on the left side of his front wheel. You can attach both to give Ray’s VR-52T the look of a weaponless Ride Armor but the real reason it’s here is because MegaHouse goofed on the engineering. Since the forearms on the toy can’t rotate, if you attached the gun gauntlet to the arm, the gun would be on the bottom of Ray’s arm and the handle wouldn’t reach his hand. So, instead, the riding figure holds the gun/gauntlet in his hand and the faux gauntlet attaches to the position the gauntlet SHOULD be attached to. So yeah, that’s awful but the ability to make Ray’s bike look like a generic, weaponless ride armor is a nice plus. As an added bonus, the baggy containing the display stand also includes:
8) saddlebags (on sprues)
9) toolbox, gas canister, other storage item (on the same sprues with the saddlebags)
The included saddlebags and other accessories work just as well with any other ride armor toy.
Yellow’s ride armor comes in similar packaging with similar contents. An extra right hand is included as it was with the other toys, this time it’s mean for holding:
5) Gallant in rifle configuration
Like the VR-52T toys, the baggy containing the display stand also includes more parts on sprues. This time its:
8) staggered chest missiles for VR-41H
Charm & Collectability: (3/5)
2008 was a true Mospeada renaissance just in time for the Great Recession that was in full bloom by 2009. The economic downturn and competition from CM’s and Beagle led to this line being terminated before a planned Houquet toy could be release (though a true prototype was never shown). MegaHouse displayed a 1/15 Inbit Igaa (Invid Scout) at several show displays though it was unclear if they ever gave serious consideration to producing it. There are three major negative aspects that limit the charm and collectability of these toys:
1) The toys are not perfect transformation (not even close)
2) The toys lack metal
3) The line is incomplete, there was never an attempt at the female ride armors.
See the graphic above this section for a full release schedule. In an odd historical note, KitzConcept teased production of a ride armor toy at one point using obvious MegaHouse silhouettes but it seems very unlikely these toys would ever be reissued as they never proved popular and were arguably inferior to their contemporary competition (CM’s 1/18 scale Ride Armors) and are drastically inferior to newer products from now defunct Beagle and, more recently, a growing line from Sentinel.
Sculpt, Detail, & Paint: (6/10)
For Stick and Ray, MegaHouse opted for matte, more militaristic colors than CM’s did, a move which was well received. However, the MegaHouse toys were outclassed by CM’s in virtually all other superficial aspects from sculpt to paint applications. The riding figure is awkward with inhuman proportions. The rider looks like he has been crushed from front and back to become a pancake person though the waist has remained super model thin. The legs are squat and the neck is very long. The most notable exception to CM’s dominance in this category being MegaHouse’s superior helmetless head sculpts.
You would expect the parts-forming nature and larger size of the MegaHouse to afford them an easy victory in the beauty category but this toy smacks of compromises at every corner. The bike mode does well to capture the most important aspects of the design with glaring deficiencies. From the headlights to the exhaust pipe, the shapes and angles are more often wrong than right. The under-sized tires on the Stick, Ray, and black VR-52F were rectified with proper size tires on latter releases.
Armor mode is the toy’s strength as the armor covers up the awkward proportions of the riding figure (heck of a neck) but the rear or the armor doesn’t come together as tightly as it should. Though the toy doesn’t suffer the split front chest plate like the CM’s toy does, the sides of the chest sit high.
The Black release is a love or hate, non-canon scheme. Markings are sparse but the gold metallic accents were a very nice touch. I did like that Stick’s head received a repaint to make him darker and give him brown hair. It’s almost like “Here’s what Stick would have looked like if he was from South America instead of just having crashed there.”
The VR-41 riding figures come with awkward looking helmeted heads so you’ll be tempted to keep the visor down at all times (or use the included helmetless head). From the profile, the nose of the VR-41H is awkward but the gauntlets and other elements unique to the VR-41H (like the rear exhaust) are done well. This was also the toy that introduced the larger tires, a notable improvement.
The dark VR-52F is the only VR-52F release that came with the larger tires. I thought it was odd that MegaHouse included Stick’s head instead of using the more tanned, brown-haired version of Stick that was included with the Black event exclusive.
The final release was a black version of Yellow’s VR-41H. I like this effort more than the original black release as there are gun metal and blue accents that help the scheme pop a bit more (I wished they had carried over to the rider’s suit). This version of Yellow is also blonde, another nice way of differentiating the release.
Does the MegaHouse toy have the same design features I liked about the CM’s toy?
1) Fully articulated riders capable of assuming natural-looking riding positions? YES
2) Integrated flip out footrests for the rider? NO
3) Integrated attachment points for the saddle bags? NO, though Ray’s toy does come with a frame that can be attached to any other Ride Armor.
4) Removable saddlebags that really open? YES, with Ray’s toy only. Unlike the CM’s saddlebags, which are for looks only, Ray’s saddlebags do have storage room and even come with items to stow.
5) Opening visors on the helmets that reveal facial detail? YES
6) Nearly perfect transformation? NO. This thing is a shameful parts-former with the front fork and handle grips only used in bike mode.
7) Hip armors that connect to the knees to achieve the powered suit effect? NO, you don’t get a storage mode or armor on a rack mode like you do with the CM’s toy.
Like the CM’s toys, these toys also lack premium features like:
A) An integrated kick-stand
B) An integrated targeting scope
C) The ability to stow Stick’s heavy gun in bike mode
Transformation of this toy is a pathetic affair for those of us who prefer perfect transformation. You blast the toy into parts, you throw some parts back into their tray, then you reassemble the parts differently and attach them to the rider. The lack of a swivel in the forearm for the Stick and Ray toys meant that Ray needed a separate gauntlet for armor mode. MegaHouse seemed to understand how awful this oversight was and added a swivel to the rider for later toys.
In armor mode the toy suffers from insufficient attachment points to the riding figure which makes handling the figure unpleasant. To help alleviate the weight problems armor mode creates (a preponderance of weight is carried behind the riding figure), MegaHouse included a gimmick that allows the foot to expand forward but in most cases you’ll want to adopt a kneeling pose or use the included stand as a prop. You might have heard the included stand allows for some cool flying poses… don’t be too fooled by this. The implementation of the flying pose attachment is all sorts of poor. If the weight of the figure is leaning to either side the attachment to the stand becomes unseated and the figure falls. If you opt for MH’s backpack assist attachment instead you’ll probably just end up using the stand as a prop since any dynamic posing will move the backpack from its area of support.
In bike mode the wheels don’t spin freely. The first three releases (Stick, Ley, Black VR-52F) come with under-sized wheels and tiny kickstands. The kickstands are awful and easily lost. Later toys came with bigger ties and kickstands which makes them a little easier to find when they pop off and fall to the ground… but are still otherwise awful.
All toys come with a slot to attach the included scope, on the VR-41 this slot is concealed in the inner missile bay. Unlike CMs, MegaHouse did include opening chest missiles on the VR-41 toys and they also gave us a staggered missile launching set if you’d like to mimic Yellow firing.
Durability & Build: (5.5-7/10)
With the initial Stick and Ley releases the problem isn’t so much with the toy breaking but rather the toy’s inability to stay together. From my very first transformation with these toys I experienced parts popping off that were intended to stay solidly in place. Handling the figures became more of a nuisance than a joy. Fortunately for MegaHouse, their toys fared slightly better than CMs initial 1/18 offerings which had the same difficulties staying together compounded with parts actually breaking. The initial releases also seemed to have a higher than normal instance of manufacturer error with some toys lacking crucial parts (the pegs that attach the hip armor in armor mode) and other toys coming with two left or two right wheel connecting rods. Paint overspray was also a common issue on the first releases.
MegaHouse never really achieved a toy so sturdy it inspired tough-handed confidence but later releases could be reasonably expected to transform without errant pieces flying off. The later editions include a swivel at the elbow that some complained was too loose and made it difficult for the toys to hold certain poses. My dark Ride Armor had the front fork break during the first transformation so care should be used when removing the fork. Speaking of the dark variant specifically, care should be taken with the white paint as it is easily scratched off. All variants could benefit from having the torso joint tightened up somehow (clear nail polish or tape). This joint is typically very loose right out of the box which makes the toy more prone to falling over backward when the armor is attached.
Rider articulation is good. While the CM’s toy has a head on a swivel and a ball joint, MegaHouse achieved similar range of movement with a long and narrow neck and single ball joint. It looks awkward and unnatural but performs its function. Where the CMs toys have a pivot in the chest that allows the shoulders to travel up and down, the MegaHouse has a solid ball joint that connects to and extends from the chest armor. Again, this gives the toy a similar range of movement at the expense of a more natural look. There’s a swivel point at the bicep and a double-jointed elbow that allows a full 180 degrees of movement. Later toys also added a twist point after the elbow which is great for moving the gauntlets in armor mode. The fists connect via ball joints allowing them to twist and pivot as you please. Like the CM’s toy, the chest is on a ball joint that connects to the top of the abdomen. Unlike the CM’s toy, MegaHouse also added a ball joint at the waist allowing the pelvis to twist and pivot. The hips are exposed, giant ball joints that allow the legs to twist, extend all the way out, angle inward, and, unlike the CM’s toy which tried a little harder to conceal the ball joint, are generally unencumbered by the thigh armor. The knees are a double joint that allows about 150 degrees of movement. Unlike the CM’s toy, there is no twist point at the knee. The feet attach via nested ball joints which are limited in range in all directions but allow twisting, toe up/down, and even some left/right rocking motion. Balance with the armor attached is very poor and I HIGHLY recommend the use of a Tamashii Stage Act or FEXT Hobby Utility Display stand as the included stand is AWFUL. The initial Stick/Ley toys score half a point less here due to their lack of an elbow swivel.
Total Score: (30-32/50) Stick/Ley Releases
It’s a shame that Stick is always the first ride armor toy sold since both CMs and MegaHouse had kinks they ought to have ironed out before releasing the most popular variant. Both companies really failed to hit their stride until they released their VR-41H Yellow custom toys which would represent the higher range of the score. Ultimately, the CM’s toys fail because they fall apart while the MegaHouse toys fail because they’re not very well conceived. So, if you’re the type of person who appreciates a clever design and don’t feel the need to handle the toy much to appreciate that design, then the CM’s Ride Armors are a better choice for you. As an added benefit, the CM’s toys operate in a more complete universe with 13 different ride armor toys having been produced as well as a set of civilian clothes riding figures. However, if you’re someone who doesn’t mind a simple toy that makes some concessions in looks, particularly if you’re someone who doesn’t mind doing a little bit of work to make things fit together tighter, then you can handle these MegaHouse toys without nearly as much fear of a fatal break. If given a choice between 4 MegaHouse toys, 4 CMs toys, and 1 beagle toy I would choose the Beagle.
Originally posted April 4, 2008
Updated July 22, 2011 As part of my continuing effort to make this website easier to navigate, I have condensed the following posts into this one Mega Review:
MegaHouse Black Ride Armors (June 19, 2009)
MegaHouse Dark Ride Armor (March 30, 2009)
MegaHobby Exclusive – First Look Black Ride Armor (February 2009)
VR-41 CMs vs MegaHouse (November 3, 2008)
MegaHouse VR-41 Yellow (September 15, 2008)
VR-52F and VR-52T CMs vs MegaHouse (August 17, 2008)
MegaHouse VR-52 Toys (April 4, 2008)
Updated October 14, 2012 to add a transformation video
Updated April 19, 2020 to include galleries from more recent releases. Added release schedule, more detail in each section, and context since previous update.