Vault Tales 170 ToyTrio Cretoxyrhina, Dragon Moray, Dolly Varden

We’ve got another trio of figures for this week, and we’re going fully aquatic again! And all featuring figures that have stories behind them, for very different reasons. Let’s go swimming!

Safari Ltd. Prehistoric Sharks toob Cretoxyrhina

First up we have another figure from the sadly discontinued Safari Ltd Prehistoric Sharks toob, this time the Cretoxyrhina also known as the Ginsu Shark for it’s large, knife-like teeth. It is the largest figure in the toob, which makes sense. Cretoxyrhina may not have been as large as its ‘megalodon’ relative, but was still a formidable predator of the Cretaceous seas. Meaning that, unlike that famous shark, this one was at least around the dinosaurs…! The figure has some unique features, like the small dorsal fin and the large mouth that even shows multiple rows of teeth. The snout is fairly blunt as well, which might be based on known fossils. It at least doesn’t look just like a great white shark, or any other living mackerel shark.

So the funny thing about this figure–it exists because of a suggestion I made! Back when Safari was developing the toob, I had provided some consultation. When they came back with the list of species, it was my suggestion to use Cretoxyrhina instead of ‘Megalodon’. Partially because ol’ Meg would probably have just looked like a great white shark…and partially because Cretoxyhina is cool and in it’s own way, and was probably less likely to get made as a toy later. And yes, I did try for some different species altogether (like an Iniopterygian or Petalodont of some kind) but they wanted to go with more strictly ‘sharks’…the irony being that at least 3 or four of the other figures would later be determined to be holocephalans of some kind anyway! As I said, no longer in production, but it should be possible to track down this figure, and the set, and it is worth the effort!

Kaiyodo Enoshima Aquarium Capsule Dragon Moray Eel

Next we have another great figure from the Kaiyodo capsule aquarium series. This one is labelled as an Enoshima Aquarium figure, although models are often made available at different Japanese public aquaria, just the bases have different labels. This particular series is Enoshima Aquarium series 3, the figure is number 05 of 24. The Enoshima series do tend to be harder to find though, which means that I’ve been pretty limited in how many of them I have…but how could I resist a dragon moray? They are among the most distinctive morays, and yet it’s uncommon to find a figure of one, especially one with so much detail. There was no way I wouldn’t track one down!

Another reason I needed to have a dragon moray (also sometimes called a leopard moray eel…but I’ve heard other moray species called by the same name because spotted = leopard adjective) was that this is the species that got me interested in keeping fish tanks. There was a local store with a couple of dragon morays, and I was so intrigued, I really wanted to keep one! Of course, I was 7…it would be a few years before I would actually get a fish tank, and never did keep a dragon moray (or any saltwater fish) but it did get me interested in unusual fish! And it isn’t much of a leap to go from these eels to polypterids I suppose–just a little easier to keep!

Yujin Freshwater Fish Pictorial Book 2 (reissue special) Dolly Varden

Finally, one more cool and special figure–I have mentioned Yujin figures before, including many of their freshwater fish models. I don’t think I’ve mentioned the specials before…not only did Yujin have two series, and issue them more than once…and reissue them with paint adjustments. They would also create special figures–chase figures, mail away figures, exclusive figures–for different sets and promotions. So it was with the Dolly Varden figure (known as Miyabe in Japanese in the set). More than once, they would use their existing white-spotted char figure and, with a new paint scheme, create a new char species (the same was true of the salmon model). That they made a Dolly Varden is especially cool, as the colour scheme is especially brilliant (it’s a breeding-colour male)

I had collected at least one of most of the Yujin freshwater fish species/figures, including at least one of each of the specials. There are several other ones that can be very rare, and of course way too expensive…but it doesn’t always hurt to look around! One that I was not aware of was the Dolly Varden though–I came across it in a search on Yahoo Auctions Japan. Not only was it unique, and not too expensive, but it’s even a species that is found in a limited way in my home province (and is about as close as I’m probably going to get to an actual figure of our provincial fish, the related Bull trout). So of course I jumped at the chance to add it to the collection! I’m glad I did–it is of course the expected high-quality sculpt from Yujin, but the paint application really makes it stand out. Really hard to find (not the hardest…though) but worth it for fish collectors!

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