Produced by Takara | Released 2005
RS02 Ridepython with Microman Ryu is one of the Road Spartan MicroForce figures, a group of four figures released with motorcycles that can be used individually or combined into a super-vehicle. Ryu - despite his 02 designation - is the leader of the Road Spartans and is the subject of today's Review.
I love Takara's packaging on their Microman toys. Unlike other toy lines, the Microman figures use a blister pack that has ''lugs'' that wrap-around the back of the mounting card, which are then taped in place. As a result, it's easy to open the packaging without damaging the back card - simply split the tape and the card and blister pack peel away.
I also like that the retaining tray is unique to each figure and - as a result - fits perfectly. The toys remain in-place without being bent or damaged. Hasbro could learn a lot from this.
So what of the contents? Let's start with the Ridepython's operator and leader of the Road Spartans, Microman Ryu.
The basic sculpt is - well - pretty basic for a Microman. But given how complex Microman sculpts usually are, that still puts him head and shoulders over a lot of other similar-scale figures. He appears to be wearing some form of armour or protective chest plate and his shoulder pads feature the standard Microman 5mm peg, meaning various pieces can be slotted onto them. Similarly his back features a 5mm port, allowing other pieces (such as weapons or backpacks) to be slotted into it. His calves feature the same sized ports, again to allow him to be combined with other pieces (the Ridepython's weapons can be mounted on the figure but I didn't want to risk removing them from the vehicle - see below.)
The figure features some small details such as ribbing and paneling that all work well but the coolest part - and it probably isn't obvious from these shots - is that his chest armour is actually transparent in places. It looks very cool and I like that the chest piece looks as if it's a separate unit, rather than simply being his chest.
The head sculpt is nice, with Ryu wearing a visor/earpiece unit (complete with tilt-able visor.) There's a fair amount of detail and precision to the face sculpt although it might be a little too generic Manga hero for some tastes. He also seems to be sporting a slightly 70s-ish hairstyle, but I kind of like it, as many of the original Micromen had a very contemporary look and this is a nice callback to that look.
Where do I start with his articulation? The MicroForce Micromen are phenomenally-well jointed, with not only the usual knee, hip, shoulder and elbow joints but even wrist, ankle and toe joints. The closest Western figures of this scale are the GI Joe toys but even then, I'd say they only have about 75% of the poseability of the Microman toys. Chances are that if you can imagine a pose, you'll be able to replicate it with a Microman and Ryu is no exception.
His joints are nicely produced on the whole, although his wrist ports are a little loose. Yes, wrist ports. Like most modern Micromen, Ryu comes with a set of interchangeable hands (see below) which can be simply pulled out and popped back in to provide different posing options. This works superbly but in Ryu's case his hands can pop-out quite easily, especially when posing him with the bike controls. The only other minor point is that his visor tends to ''ping'' between being up or being down beyond his eyes and it can take a delicate touch to get it to balance over his eyes. The remainder of his articulation is just fine.
A combination of paint and tampo transfers really set-off the figure's look. Although relatively simple, it's very effectively applied. I'd be tempted to say it's a perfect app, as I can't see any miss-applied paint or run-overs. The slightly glittery gun-metal paint looks superb and the piping is applied without fault. It may not be particularly showy or eye-catching but when you examine it closely you can see it's an outstanding job.
What of Ryu's motorcycle, the Ridepython?
The Ridepython comes in a core piece with five chromed accessories - a rear-mounted missile launcher, twin front missile launchers and two rear pipes. The latter accessories simply slot into the 5mm port and can then be repositioned/swiveled (in the above image the front missile launchers are being used to stabilise the bike.) The rear-mounted missile launcher uses a proprietary connector but it clips into place without any issue.
Sadly I can't say the same for the front-mounted missile pods. As I was connecting the left-hand pod, I heard a loud crack and discovered a hairline fracture on the mount I'd just connected it to. I think when the chrome paint may have added fraction of an inch of extra width to the port and when the piece was connected, it was too large. The toy isn't broken and the piece is in place now, but I won't be removing it for fear of worsening this tiny break.
The Ridepython itself is kind of cool in a retro manner. It's without a doubt a sci-fi vehicle, given its weird hand-grips and wings. It's also oddly retro in that it's quite clunky-looking and the sleek front section gives way to a very old-school bike shape. Again, I like this as it's a nice bit of retro-futurism, the kind of thing you see with the original Microman toys.
It's also worth noting that the design has some additional functionality to it, namely that it can be used as part of a four-vehicle ''combiner'' craft. How this works, I've no idea and I've never attempted to combine the four Road Spartan bikes, as there are no instructions included on how to do it. I did discover that the Ridepython is hinged in the centre (where the chrome piece is) but why, I don't know (if you wish to see the combiner in action, here it is at Microman Forever.)
As mentioned, the vehicle sports some unusual controls. Rather than use ''standard'' motorbike grips, the Ridepython uses vertical ''handles.'' They look a little odd but Ryu can grip them pretty well when he's seated on the bike. Another oddity is the lack of any form of foot pegs for the rider. I'm not sure if Ryu is supposed to sit with his feet dangling loose or - as I've posed him - with his feet tucked back on the ''wings.'' Either way, it's not a great bit of design and I was disappointed as to how little thought seems to have gone into where the rider actually sits...
Aside from the chrome-plated pieces and the Road Spartan 02 transfer on the wings, the bike lacks any form of paintwork, with the black, silver and blue sold-cast plastic providing the only colouring. It's very effective though and looks pretty cool, although I'd have preferred to see the silver plastic replaced with chrome, as I think that would have really made it pop. That aside though, all is good.
It's also worth noting that the vehicle itself is nicely robust. I'd feel a lot more comfortable allowing a child to play with this than I would, say, a GI Joe vehicle. Yes, Ryu may have a few smaller parts but the Ridepython is a very sturdy, well-assembled toy that wheels along nicely and feels as if it could survive more than a few stair-jumps.
Microman Ryu comes with his own stand and a sprue of five extra pairs of hands, which can be swapped-out with his default ''gripping'' hands. The additional hands are: two fists, two ''Karate chop'' hands, two ''trigger finger'' hands, two ''splayed'' hands and an additional pair of ''gripping'' hands that use a vertical (rather than horizontal) joint.
The set also includes a Microman MicroForce ''Infomercial'' - a sales catalogue for other toys in the line - plus instructions on assembling the Ridepython.
The Road Spartan RS02 is an oddity. There's the excellent (if a little generic) Microman Ryu figure, which is superbly-well constructed, looks great and has all the poseability you could ever want, plus the Ridepython, which again, looks great (in a retro-futuristic manner), rolls along nicely and has some great chrome pieces. It's just when the two are put together that the flaws appear. The vehicle looks as if the prime design consideration was how it would work as part of the Road Spartan combiner, rather than as a stand-alone vehicle and it's almost as if having a rider sit on it in its ''regular'' mode was an afterthought. There are no foot pegs, for example and the controls are minimal at best. It also can't stand without using the missiles or rear-pipes as improvised side stands (and to be honest that doesn't look great), which again makes me think it was designed as a combiner part first, motorcycle second.
It's not the best from the Road Spartan line (the Delta Phantom is my personal favourite) but with a bit of work you can get Ryu to sit on it and look quite good. It's just a shame it lacks that ''niceness'' and precision that's associated with the other toys in the line and that the two pieces - which are both actually very good - just don't work very well together.
Still though if you're in the market to pick-up a modern Microman toy, the Road Spartans are often available quite cheaply (around the $15-20 mark) and given for that price you're getting a very poseable, nicely-produced action figure and a cool-looking vehicle, you can't really say you're being robbed.