MA-18 Magical Ape MS
Initial Release: Summer 2004, Booster MA-18 (Blue)
Additional Releases: None.
Bit Protector - "Large Type"
Should be noted that BP Size Type on initial release is not consistent for every cycle of production or re-release. Being reproduced the following year could mean a different BP Size Type for a given Beyblade.
Attack Ring (AR)
Metal Ape, ~19g.
If Advance Attacker was the most underrated AR in HMS, Metal Ape has to take second place.
Highly compact design, many CWDs extend past its reach, is a great weight with condensed weight distribution.
Traditionally relegated to the Compact subcategory, Metal Ape is more than capable of being an elite Stamina and Defense oriented AR. In the case of Stamina, it is evidently very small, with its weight condensed more inward than most other ARs making it very stable. It also has some significant recoil to it, meaning that while it may be able to remain stable, more often than not the opposing Beyblade will not be. More than capable of knocking out other Stamina types.
In Defense, because it is so small and top tier CWDs extend well past it, Metal Ape becomes the key ingredient to make the only legitimate wall-style Defense combo in the series. It can rely upon rarely making contact directly with an Attacker (that is more often than not significantly shorter), and letting the CWD absorb much of the assault. Because it is so well balanced, it also isn't prone to being out-spun after numerous hard hits.
Still a very qualified Compact AR, too. But this is largely overshadowed as it is a mainstay in Defense and traditional Stamina combos.
Best Possible Combo:
AR: Metal Ape (Same Spin)
RC: Bearing Core 2
Game Plan: This combo single-handedly invalidates 80% of all possible relevant Attack combos, leaving only a select few ARs capable of knocking it out reliably. All of which are present on the Competitive Combo List. Being able to effortlessly rely on a thick CWD to mitigate a large chunk of an incoming attack's force is very powerful. The reason it is recommended to be same-spin is not so much because of Metal Ape, but the condition of your Bearing Core 2. While worn usually means it is better for Defense, it is also can be out-spun in opposite spin against GFCUV if you've been seriously knocked around, which is a much less common occurrence when it is mint. If your Bearing Core 2 is mint, this should be less of an issue at all.
Flat Core, ~2g.
Unlike the original Flat Core found in Gaia Dragoon MS, this Flat Core has been ever so slightly modified, to include a screw in the center of the RC. While this doesn't significantly change performance, it adds roughly half a gram to its weight. Technically, if you must use Flat Core, this one is recommended over the first version.
Slightly taller than other Attack oriented RCs, but again a touch more survivability than rubber. It isn't a terrible choice, but it is probably wise to stick to a metal-based RC for your Attack combos if you must stay away from rubber.
When using Flat Core along with its other stock parts, it is considered in Battle Mode. When using its gimmick accessory instead of a WD and RC, Magical Ape is in Gyro Mode. There are a few ways to use Gyro Mode. Opening it up reveals a hollow space with a shaft that can be removed. You could use, as intended, Metal Ape, in the center. Unfortunately, in just about any configuration, Gyro Mode is not competitive.
Possibly illegal, you could instead opt for a WD in Metal Ape's place, along with replacing the two metal bearings inside with shield bearings. This would make it slightly lighter, but provide it with much more survivability. Again, this is likely completely illegal, but it isn't as if you'd realistically be using Gyro Mode in a competitive setting anyway.
Best Possible Combo:
AR: Samurai Upper (Same-Spin preferred)
RC: Flat Core (Magical Ape Version)
Game Plan: Much like if you were to use a rubber or metal-based RC, this combo's main priority is to knock things out of the stadium using its decent speed and momentum. It isn't nearly as competitive an RC as the other options, but it isn't terrible by any means. Trying to land a consistent flower pattern may be slightly trickier on this RC as it will typically revert back to stalling if you've put a lot of power into the launch, but with some practice it is doable.
Slightly revised design, features a screw in the center.
Gyro Mode Assembled
Gyro Mode Disassembled