Vault tales 162 Run the Set Agatsuma Strange Predators

Well here we have another Run the Set and as the name suggests, it is strange. From a Japanese company (of course) called Agatsuma Entertainment, they apparently are mostly a company that makes character merchandise. But for whatever reason, in 2011 or so they decided to create a set of (almost) entirely aquatic predators. But not like we would normally see–your sharks, your orcas, your seals and rays and whales. No, they went with ‘Strange’ Predators and wow, did they deliver. As a set, they are overall very high quality, single piece models, each with a black plinth base that is labelled in Japanese with the animal’s name (keeping them together required research in two alphabets on my part!) Some have rods to hold the animal, others are free standing i.e. they fall off. In terms of durability, they are fairly sturdy material, possibly toy-worthy, but in case you hadn’t guessed, this set is long out of production–and can be expensive now. So display only.

I did touch on the set once before–way back (post 15!) I had a stand-alone post featuring the ‘secret’ in the set, the Tsuchinoko in a rolled pose. So I’ll start with that, and work my way through the rest.

Overall, the figures in the set are not scale, instead being roughly similar in size to each other. While I think they might have been blind bag/blind box figures, They would have had to be in something fairly large–the bases are about 8cm, and a few figures fill it completely. And as I mentioned, the models are not in pieces, so no small pieces to squeeze in. It does give the figures a more substantive feel though. Fortunately, they are also very well sculpted and painted. The best current approximation I could give is the recent Eikoh figures–just a little cartoonish/stylized, but very natural otherwise. But these Agatsuma are bigger models.

Many of the figures in the set have been done before, but generally only by Japanese companies. The Alligator snapping turtle and Surinam toad are probably the only exceptions–although neither is particularly common. After that, the rest get downright weird. Other than those two (and the Tsuchinoko) all of the other figures are non-vertebrates…I have to be specific because the chordate Predatory Tunicate means I can’t just call the rest ‘invertebrates’…or I could, but the phylogeny gets shaky.

A set like this is super fun just because of the oddities that it contains. It’s a great way to learn about something a little different–normally I’d say that the set isn’t really in my collecting wheelhouse, and I guess that’s true–no fish, no prehistoric mammals. But sometimes a collection needs a few unique elements. And it helps that I lucked out getting this set. Someone on the Dino Toy Forum was showing a few of their figures–the Tardigrade (!) which I decided I needed. It must have been around when the set was released, because I found it easily…at the time. Probably came from Japan, and I can’t begin to guess what it cost at the time.

This was a set that meant I had to learn a lot. Like how there are sea slugs like the Yamatomeribe that are way too big and others like Tyrannodoris that are just plain weird hunters…or that there are tunicates that are predatory…or that Vampire squid, which is closer to Octopuses, like the Winged Argonaut. It was also my first figure for most of these animals, although I had seen others, and in most cases are still my only ones. Can’t imagine I’d have chased down many nudibranchs otherwise. Or a Sea pig of all things…although it isn’t my only holothurian figure. The funny thing is that I am pretty sure most of these figures are made by other Japanese companies (probably Kaiyodo of course, but also Takara). But I probably would have passed them over.

What I wouldn’t have passed over is a Tardigrade figure! Because they are just so weird…and became pretty internet famous for a while. The chance to get one was irresistible, and back then we didn’t have any other options. Now there are a few others…Kaiyodo (late to the party) and Takara (of course) eventually followed up with their own, but this one is the biggest! So, to wrap up–should you get this this set? I would say yes. Maybe not if you stick to prehistoric animals…but for fans of general nature, or just weird things overall, definitely. The tardigrade makes it worthwhile on its own (but guess which one is the most sought after AKA hardest to get!?). The trick is usually finding them, as the set is pretty obscure!

One other thing I realized as I went through this set…I think a number of them have humorous videos about them online. Probably Zefrank. I’m not going to check though…but it does make me realize that the lack of a mantis shrimp is a big missed opportunity.

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