I am once again revisiting a figure from Kaiyodo (a company that has come up in this blog many times already), but I think this is the first one from the Capsule Aquarium series (I did discuss the tiger shark before, but it’s from the CapsuleQ line). The Capsule Aquarium sets, if I understand correctly, are meant for public aquaria–of which Japan has several (and, yes, only in Japan). In this instance, this bronze whaler shark is from the Enoshima Aquarium, judging by the blue bottlecap, but the same figures can show up with different aquaria on the label as well. That said, for many collectors the Enoshima Aquarium is the expected default–I could be wrong, but I believe that the earliest Kaiyodo aquarium sets, though different in format, were Enoshima, so that could be why.
This shark is from the Enoshima Series 3, numbered 07 in the set. I honestly can’t say when it was produced. I obtained it in the last few years, but it has to have been from earlier than that (if I could find the accompanying info paper, assuming I have it, I might be able to tell). The earliest Enoshima was from the earlier 2000s, but Capsule Aquarium seemed to show up in the mid-2000s or later. At that point it seems like the series were revived or revised somewhat, and this figure was possibly part of that first new wave. I may sound uncertain, and I am. What I do know is that the figure is probably unavailable now, except as an after-market one from Japan. But the sets sometimes seem to reappear so who knows.
I cannot say why it took so long for me to get this shark. Partially it didn’t show up very often, or maybe I was confusing it with a different requiem shark from the Capsule series (there are a few). Once I did recognize it as different, I of course had to track one down–again, it’s a mostly good thing that I know someone with contacts in Japan! I can’t say exactly, but it probably showed up with a few other choice treasures from Japan (of all my database details, dates aren’t there! But I do know I got it after 2017 when I did a revamp–yes, databases can be fun!) So now it rests with a whole lot of other bottle cap and capsule figures, in particular a lot of sharks.
Giving some thoughts on Kaiyodo figures is always a challenge–not because it’s hard to say nice things, but because it gets repetitive saying nice things! But this figure is truly beautiful. My photography skills notwithstanding, the colouring on the figure is fantastic. Bronze whaler sharks are so named for their colouring, including a light bronze sheen (obviously) and somehow, on this small 6.8cm, they manage to give just a hint of a bronze highlight. That is dedication to the product, for a figure that will come out randomly in a capsule from a vending machine. But there is also that attention to detail and design. The flowing curve and bends in the body, right down to the tail, indicate that someone was paying attention to how every element would move in the water. And even better, they made a requiem shark that, despite their similarities, clearly stands out as different from other related species also made by Kaiyodo (tiger shark, blacktip shark, oceanic whitetip shark, whitetip reef shark…that’s just the ones I have!)
As always, I’m going to encourage people to go on potentially quixotic quests to hunt one of these down. They are such beautiful little pieces of art, and yet, without that base, could be just as good as a toy for careful kids (or, who am I kidding, adults). That’s the funny thing about the Kaiyodo figures–for what they are (vending machine prizes) there is so much effort put into them, it’s worth having them just to appreciate them. Even more fun when you start searching (Yahoo Japan Auctions, if you’re curious) is that sometimes it is possible to find very large lots for relatively reasonable amounts. The mixes can be very random but even the figures you didn’t think you wanted might surprise you. No matter what this figure should be on your shelf (if you can find it).