Astro Toy with Rob Bricken - Stick with Dark Mospeadaby Rob Bricken,
STICK WITH DARK MOSPEADA
Toyline: Variable Action
Series: Genesis Climber Mospeada
First things first — you might better know this toy as Scott Bernard with Cyclone (Stealth Version) if you're American and were at all cognizant in the ‘80s. I was, and for all the bitching that used to get done about America ruining Macross, Southern Cross and New Generation by mashing them together into one weird story, Robotech was awesome and anime around the world is better for it. End of story.
Second things second — I am now banning all Japanese transformable toys from Astro Toy because they drive me @#$%ing crazy and make my blood pressure shoot through the roof… or that's what I would decree if I had any real power over my column. I don't. I'm very much at the mercy of the shifting winds of what's imported and in stock, what fits my meager budget, and what nice company occasionally throws me a bone by sending over a figure or two for review. So I'm sure I'll end up reviewing another Japanese transformer (note the lack of the capital “T” there) eventually, but whenever it happens, it'll be too soon.
Now, I loves me some Robotech, admittedly the Macross part (greatest love story of the 20th century!) than Southern Cross or New Generation, which the Mospeada/Cyclone hails from, but that was pretty much the only thing that kept me from going on an action figure frustration-based killing spree with trying to turn this @#$%ing thing from a motorcycle to the Cyclone armor (I'm totally not going to call it a Mospeada, sorry). Now, I will say it is superior to the infamous Sky Girls “toy,” if only because I actually succeeded in transforming it after a mere two hours of fidgeting. But I'll get to that in a sec.
Let me start simple, with the figure of Scott/Stick. If you've ever played with Stickfas, you can get a pretty good idea of this figure. It's very articulated, very poseable, but kind of goofy-looking. It's not going to win any awards for best figure, with its big chest, arms straight out from the sides, and ram-rod limbs. But it's darned poseable, and his retracting helmet shield is a very nice touch. Besides, I figured that the figure was designed entirely to go inside the Cyclone armor, so that excuses a bit of awkwardness.
Meanwhile, the motorcycle is awesome. It looks great, it's well-proportioned, it rolls — I have zero problems with it. It also — and this is going to be very important later — does not fall apart when it is touched. If it has a problem, it's that it does not stand up on its own, because there's no attached kickstand for it. Now, there is a tiny kickstand included in the accessories, but it's so small I didn't even notice it until time to put the toy up. You will lose it. Whether you use it or not, you will lose it. I promise.
Unfortunately, the awkwardness of the figure comes into play when Stick/Scott tries to ride the cycle. He comes with alternate hands so he can grasp the handlebars no problem, and as you can see, he bends over well enough that he looks like he's actually driving it. The problem is his feet, which are huge and can be tucked nowhere even near the bike. It just out all-too noticeably.
Frankly, Scott/Stick does a lot better when standing over the bike, as you can see. This only happened several million times per episode in the anime, so I'm not too distraught over it. Plus, his gun (attached to a specific accessory hand) seems like it was made for it.
But let's move onto the power armor mode of the Cyclone. Now, there's a few things I need to tell you. First of all, despite my love of Macross, I think every Robotech fan knew the coolest mecha to come out of Robotech was the Cyclone armor from New Generation. Armor you could ride? A motorcycle that turned into a power suit? This was — and still is — beyond awesome. But between the animation itself and the few Cyclone toys that made it onto American toy shelves, we knew the Cyclone didn't make much sense.
Seriously, parts just fly off left and right to attach themselves to Stick/Scott. As much as I think having to take off and re-attach pieces to transform a toy is cheating, the Cyclone itself doesn't pretend to try to make actual spatial sense. I accepted that as a kid; I accept that now. The idea of the Cyclone is cool enough that I'll forgive it.
But I won't forgive the nightmare that awaited me when trying to transform this thing from the cycle to the power armor. Again, it took me two @#$%ing hours to complete the transformation, no thanks at all to the instructions. Now, either I'm getting stupider in my old nerd age — because I used to be able to transform Japanese toys with nary a problem — or I've had some seriously bad luck recently. Here, you make the call:
Now to me, the pics — necessary at least for a stupid gaijin like myself — are way too close-up, don't show the actual movements of pieces, and further more, since they're all in white, I have no clue what I'm looking at.
So it would have been a struggle if every time you moved or attached one piece, another piece flew off violently. If it had been rigged to explode, it probably couldn't done any more damage to it than I did while trying to transform it. Virtually no part of the toy has any desire to stay attached to one another, even — especially — the parts that are supposed to.
Eventually, I gave up on the instructions and just tried to make the end product that was on the packaging. This only gets you so far, because the taking-off and re-attaching of pieces often requires revealing hidden pegs and joints that you can't possibly know or see unless you can understand what the hell is going on in the instructions. However, it did get me close enough that I could match my small pile of seemingly extra pieces to the instructions and get them all figured out.
In all honesty, the end result is pretty cool. Worth two hours of frustration, rage and hysterical sobbing? Well, no. But again, I did manage to complete the transformation, which puts it ahead of the Sky Girls nonsense. Also, I did manage to transform it back into a motorcycle in about 25 minutes, and now that I know where everything goes, I'm pretty sure I could get it into Armor mode and back in less than an hour. If the pieces that latch the figure into the armor stick even slightly better, I imagine I could do it in half the time.
The accessories are nothing amazing. Two extra sets of hands (so you have closed fist, handlebar grabbing, and open), an unmasked head, a hand holding the laser gun, a cool laser scope I tried to attach for a brief few seconds before I realized the toy was about to explode again. I'm sure you'll understand. The piece under that belongs to the base in some way, but I never figured out how (it's not to hold up the motorcycle on the base; there's no place for it). And that handlebar piece is either the one part of the motorcycle that doesn't actually belong in the Cyclone transformation, or the one piece I never figured out where it went.
So, overall — I don't know. The Cyclone is still a damn cool toy concept, but man, this thing was rough. Like, I was pretty sure I wanted this for myself, thanks to my immense Robotech love, but after the transformation nightmare process, I couldn't wait to put it back into its package and shove it in the back of the Astro Toy closet. Why, you ask, would I choose to put away a toy that looks so cool in the picture up above? Well, mostly because of the emotional trauma, and also because the pose in that pic is utterly impossible. The Cyclone armor mode is so back heavy that unless you put it straight on the base it's falling over, no dramatic leaning allowed. So it might as well be a statue once you get it assembled. Which would have saved me two hours and $70.
You can read more of Rob Bricken's bitter, needlessly mean-spirited thoughts on toys and many non-anime subjects over at ToplessRobot.com (which is safe for work).
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