Vault Tales 173 ToyTrio Hammerhead Shark, Manta Ray, Knob-tail Gecko

Starting the year with what might be described as…very random figures. Most of which are, at best, okay. But they’re all part of larger sets so there’s that. Let’s get to it.

Safari Ltd Endangered Species-Marine toob Great Hammerhead Shark

First up, we have a Great Hammerhead shark toob figure from Safari Ltd. They have made several hammerhead sharks over the years, for a number of toobs (Ocean, Sharks) but I believe that this model is the first one labelled specifically as a Great Hammerhead. It is part of the Endangered Species (Marine) toob released in 2017, number 100110. Overall, the set is at best just okay. Many of the figures are revamped or slightly altered figures from other sets. A couple are definitely unique and worth tracking down. How does this shark figure measure up?

The figure itself is decent. It’s clearly a hammerhead shark, and the distinctive head is very wide, as would be expected for a great hammerhead, but possibly not wide enough. The finnage is all there of course, and the paint is fine if uninspired. The detail painting, like the eyes, is very rough. Also…there are only 4 gill slits sculpted…every living shark should have at least five, including hammerheads. This is a common error, and should be easily avoidable. The sculpt itself is a reused one, from one of the earliest toobs (the Oceans toob from the late 90s!) but this is the first time the figure was labelled to species. The figure itself is not going to be a feature of any collection…but the set itself is worth getting for some of the other species. I discussed the whole toob in detail here for the Animal Toy Blog.

Animal Kaiser Manta Ray

Next we have another Animal Kaiser figure, an oceanic Manta Ray. As with many of their figures, they are simple models, but the ones based on mostly realistic animals are okay, if not up to the level of most Safari toob figures or something like that. But they aren’t terrible as far as mini figures associated with a card game or something might go.

The figure is a fairly basic manta model–it has all of the expected features. The shape of the big pectoral wings seem a little stylized and recurved, likely reflecting the game model. One really interesting thing to note is the internal structure of the widely open mouth–the expanded gill rakers of these big filter feeders are plainly visible and distinctly painted. There are a lot of ‘better’ companies that don’t put this effort into the mouth details of their mantas. And that wide mouth is very wide–it isn’t often that a figure of these big rays demonstrates the open feeding mouth. The colour is a little odd–it’s hard to tell, but the colour is almost indigo blue instead of the more expected (and realistic) blue. My particular figure has some paint wear, likely because it was part of a large lot of figures that I got from Japan. I doubt it was one of the figures that I was intentionally looking to get, so it pretty much stays in storage. An interesting figure, I’m guessing worth it to some collectors if you have contacts in Japan!

Yowies Smooth Knob-Tailed Gecko

Finally, we have a figure from the first Australian Yowies series, a Smooth Knob-Tailed Gecko. From what I can tell, the figures were not individually numbered. As with all Yowies of the era, this model is one that needed to be put together from multiple plastic pieces. They fit loosely, which gives the figure a bit of a realistic wiggle. The wiggle is about the only realistic thing about this figure. The basic shape is kind of there…the big head, the squat round body, and the short and fat tail all more or less represent the animal. After that…not so much.

The legs are a bit thick, and the toes are too short and stubby. The body of a knob-tail gecko does have tiny bumps, but the figure exaggerates them quite a bit. And the colour…knob-tailed geckos are rather attractive, small geckos with all kinds of white patterns and colours ranging through greys, brown, oranges and pinks. Not this figure though, they went with a flat brown with white dots. And pink feet. Overall not a great representation. It might be fine for Yowies collectors, but I can’t be too enthusiastic about suggesting someone look for one. There is a better one from a Kaiyodo Capsule series, and while neither is going to be easy to find, the Kaiyodo is easily more worth the effort.

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