Gakken 1/8 Ride Armor (Cyclone)

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   REVIEW (Updated): Motooooorcycle FREAK!

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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
5) Stickers
6) Instructions
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.

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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.

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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.

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Design: (5.5/10)
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.

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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).

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Articulation: (4/10)
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.

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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

21 Replies to “Gakken 1/8 Ride Armor (Cyclone)”

  1. Hi,
    I’m pleased to see your thorough and excellent commentary/reviews on these great toys and collectables.

    Thanks a bunch and its good to see a dedicated fellow Anime/Macross fan out there like myself.

    PS. Are you into Orguss? If so it is one of those more obscure anime shows out there (but one that many Macross fans love) and it might be a good thing for you to add the products from that line of toys as another extra to the Macross reviews here seeing as that is all you really have concentrated on (Excepting of course your Mospeada reviews.)

  2. Hi Robert, I hope you don’t mind but I edited out the non-public domain portions of your comment and sent you an email in response to those inquiries.

    For those of you who love Orguss I really wish I could accomodate you by including some Orguss toys on this site. Unfortunately, while I do really enjoy the show, I do not own any toys from it. Maybe I can set something up where people send me reviews and pics and I simply post them? Maybe we could do it wikipedia style? If anyone is interested, let me know! I’ll suggest this in the site news at some point also…

  3. Hey,

    I noticed that you said you have an additional ride armor for sale. Is it still available? Ive been looking for one. Thanks,


  4. Sorry, i have deleted the reference to the extra ride armor. I may occasionally sale toys going forward but if I do I’ll go ahead and place a link up on the main page. This particular toy was sold several weeks back.

  5. Great article, and great toy. I own one of these beauties myself.

    You mentioned the “difficulty in getting the clip to lock underneath the rider’s rear in
    armor mode”. There’s a trick to accomplish that, without forcing it.
    Pay attention to the two small black wheels that sit near the waist, in armor mode; they have a tab that allows you to rotate them. In armor mode, the tabs should face forward, otherwise they’ll take space between the armor and the rider’s chest, thus preventing the clip to reach the rear part of the armor.

    Hope this helps.


  6. This is one of my favourite childhood toy. So nice that you could share the knowledge of Gakken Cyclone bike with us. It’s really an eye-opener for me to learn the different variants!

  7. I haven’t been in the market to buy one in a long time so I’m afraid I couldn’t tell you. I imagine it’s around $200 for a minty one though, that was the going price for a long while. The upcoming release of the Beagle/Toynami MPC might drive the price down a bit.

  8. Hi, first of all i wanted to congratulate your great work reviewing macross / robotech toys. You have helped me to make my buys much more easy.
    I want to ask you a question, i got a Gakken Ride Armor, the box says Mospeada and the texts on it are in english, wich one of the reviewed ones would it be?

  9. I have a Mospeda 21 (ref: VR-052-F) Gakken Armor bike/riding suit called The Henshin Robo. Can anyone put me in touch with collectors of this toy as I am concidering selling



  10. The best place for selling that ride armor is definitely on eBay. Mospeada collectors/Robotech The New Gen typically do their best selling items there as there.

  11. Hi micronian. This is a great review of a great toy. This toy is truly highly engineered considering the time that it was developed in the early eighties. I don’t know of any toy then that involved so many steps when it comes to transformation.

    I own one myself, and compared to the newer “cyclone” releases, I preferred the look of this old toy. However, I don’t have any of the new releases yet, but I do appreciate your reviews on them.

    Keep up the great work!

  12. Great review! Gakken and Mego will always be my favs! The magnetic gig figures from europe are also sweet toys. Gakken cyclone and large alphas are the best.

  13. I am still having trouble with purchasing a japanese version of this. The firing missle version is very expensive. Around 500$. Hey Micronian I never knew there was a non firing japanese version. Thanks!

  14. Hi Micronian,
    I noticed in your picture of the back of the knee of your rider that they have the same problem that mine had (and I guess that many others too) which is that the knee joints are assembled backwards. The knee joints have a square part and an round part and the square part should be at the front allowing the knee to be bent backwards at 90 degrees (this operation also doesn’t degrade the ride armor mode, the knee joints are strong enough to support the whole weight). The fix requires to disassemble the whole figure to get to the knee though but nothing is supposed to be glued on so it should be easy.
    Can the corrected rider ride? Mine is now much more convincing than the one I’ve seen above ;)

  15. I REALLY have to update this post now that the Beagle is out. Thanks for the info on the knees. I have heard that the Japanese version of the toy has a greater range of movement at the knees. I wonder if the instructions sent to the Singapore plant weren’t just wrong on the knees so all the knees made in Singapore were built backward thus limiting articulation? I’ve owned a few Singapore variants and all of them could only bend their knees back as far as this one did.

  16. Hi, Recently acquired a mospeada 21 cyclone which I believe is a Singapore version. Does anyone has any links to the transformation guide? My loose set does not come with any manual. Looking forward to your help!

  17. I have been meaning to do an update and include a video. When I do I’ll put up the scan of the transformation guide. Maybe someone can shoot you a link somewhere in the meantime.

  18. I just reconnected with this toy after 30+ years and am in love with it! I have a couple questions: 1. is there a variant that has painted hair/eyes? 2. How in the heck do you keep the left side shield on (the one with the black hinged “claw”)? It doesn’t seem to want to insert/snap anywhere. Great work on this blog, it’s an amazing resource.

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