Well what do you know? Another Groovy Tubes set from Innovative Kids. And just like the last one, this set is going to look at another Mythical/Fantasy set. This time it is called the Magical Creatures (as opposed to the aforementioned Mythical Beasts). Both sets feature novel interpretations of non-real creatures, and while both seem to feature a share of creatures of both fairy tale and myth, I suppose that this one is predominantly fairy tale and folklore inspired (or…Magical? I guess?). As with the other set, there is a bit of a range from a number of cultures, so it has that going for it. And as with that other set, the execution is…sometimes less than stellar. So let’s see these things, one by one (alphabetically)!
So we’ll start off with one of the less likely figures–a Banshee of Irish lore, the wailing spirit who heralds death in the family (some of these are just so heartwarming). I suppose they got the grey cloak right, and the long(-ish) hair…but apparently it was too much to paint the eyes the more traditional red. It’s unusual at least, certainly not a figure you’d normally see.
Next we have a figure from Greek myths, a centaur. As with the other humanoid creatures in the set there’s something kind of vague about this one. It gets the horse+man but somehow seems goofy. There have got to be better centaur figures…but don’t quote me.
Next is an Elf. Again, a human-ish one and it’s not great. Maybe it’s the influence of the LotR trilogy take on elves…or the Dragon Prince take on elves (if you haven’t, check the show out)…or the Lego take on elves…or the D&D take on elves. What I’m saying is that this is a serious departure from what we normally see as depictions and it’s not great. Maybe the issue is that it just looks like a regular person in a short tunic?
Here we have another mythical creature from European folklore, a Fairy. It’s okay, but again, looks like a person wearing wings. There isn’t a whole lot one can say about it, other than it would be pretty big for a fairy, relative to most other toys and figures. And as with all of these human-like ones, the face is a bit off-putting.
Credit where credit is due, Innovative Kids gave us a figure of the Chinese Fenghuang, a mythical emperor of birds that is said to be made up of many birds, plus sometimes the legs of a deer and a fish tail (which they did do). Sometimes referred to as a Chinese phoenix, it’s mostly a superficial similarity to the European version. Maybe this isn’t the most beautiful version of this creature we could have gotten, but it’s certainly different.
Next, from Arabic and Islamic mythology, we have a Genie (or more properly, Jinn). It is depicted with the familiar lamp motif, but more human than other popular images. When looking at the arms, it’s easy to see how they would cut corners…would painting the bracelets have been so hard? But it is something different again.
Another unique figure, this one from Hindu mythology, a depiction of Hanuman, the monkey god. It seems like the figure is…less graceful than many depictions. I also didn’t see any images (during a quick look) where Hanuman has wings…but maybe they’re out there (some stories say he could fly…but doesn’t say wings?). So maybe not the best depiction, but I’m guessing there aren’t a lot of monkey-god figures.
One thing about this set–there are a lot of horse-related figures. Case in point, this Hippocampus of Greek, Phoenician and other folklore. They did capture the essence, it’s a fish with a horse-like front half, so it’s unmistakable. And definitely something unique; unlike the other horse-based figures in this set, I am pretty sure this is the only Hippocampus. Too bad it’s so monochromatic.
Another horse-based creature also from Greek and European tales, a Hippogriff. I suppose a certain boy-wizard story made them more familiar as well. It’s fine, but leaving the talons to be painted in horse style makes it look even more weird. Plus, the ‘eagle’ head seems to lack the eagle beak, and instead looks more like a finch or something. Not quite as inspiring.
Another classic of folktales that are almost worldwide, the half-fish half-woman mermaid. As far as the figure goes, it’s fine. A little awkward maybe. But given the heritage, maybe it’s okay that the face is just a little off–and unpainted entirely. At least the seashells are painted, but they also look a little strange.
Next we have a Naga, which is a serpent-like deity or spirit from Hindu and Buddhist tradition. The figure is depicted with two-heads which apparently represents a female Naga, which are represented by even numbers of heads from what I just read (I think those are female heads? kind of ambiguous) although they can be depicted as elaborate cobras, single-headed, or having even more heads. Either way, an unusual creature to make, and the two-heads probably helps make it more distinctive.
More horse things! There was no way they wouldn’t include the two famous horse creatures in a set like this, and indeed we have a basic Pegasus of Greek myth here. Using a cloud to provide a rearing pose is kind of unique, although overall the figure is kind of simple. It’s fine, really.
As a counter to the Fenghuang above there is also a European Phoenix in the set, shown as a bird that I think is rising from the fire. It’s hard to tell, since the figure is only moderately painted at the bottom so that is probably fire. But it could just be a weird nest. Leaving the figure as otherwise all yellow might be meant to make it look ‘golden’ but it means it kind of lacks the more flashy colour and brilliance we usually associate with them. It almost looks like it was meant for the cover of the book!
Here we have a Satyr from Greek and other Indo-European myth. Apparently early Satyrs were half man, half horse, but over time became associated with Pan, and developed the goat traits we see in the figure. As a creature, they are somewhat familiar, but not common like other half-person figure from Greek myths so this is something different.
And of course, for the final figure, they included a Unicorn–a creature of myths from antiquity perhaps, and also from right up to the present day; but also from ‘natural history’ in the times of the Greeks because research is hard sometimes. The figure bears the pretty straightforward horse with a single spiral horn. It does, however, go with a tipped tail like a lion or zebra, instead of the usual horse tail, so that’s different.
Finally, we have the game that is part of the trifecta in these sets–book, toys, game. Unlike the Mythical Beasts set, where the game was a basic path with a few random elements, this one is based on a well-known game, Clue! Technically, you’re trying to find a Selkie’s hidden skin, but it’s still 2-item clue; find the creature who has it, find out where. I have a few cards and clue sheets in the picture (for the sheets, I took photocopies since you can’t reuse them). It’s more fun than a random path, at least. Overall, a good set if you can find it–like the Beasts and the rest of the series, they aren’t made anymore. But if you need lots of mythical/fantastic creatures, there’s definitely some variety there. Even the game is kind of an intriguing one. I don’t understand why the series ended but maybe someone can pick up the idea?
Also, not to spoil anything…but one of the animal sets is coming up later this week! I’m kind of excited to look at the first set I got, Raging Reptiles!