Another Safari toob set? Already! How awesome…and statistically likely, since I have a lot of them…! But this time it is a newer one, and one of what I think is their best ones in recent years (the Great Lakes toob is of course my favorite, maybe I’ll get to it someday). In this instance, it is the Pelagic Fishes toob from 2019, Safari number 100265. The set features 10 fish, and only fish (in the broad ‘swimming vertebrates sense) with a mix of bony fish and sharks; this is unlike many of the other aquatic/marine toobs and sets from Safari–no turtles, no penguins, no seals or octopus or cetaceans, an unusual if welcome (to me) choice. More interesting, most of the sculpts are unique and new for the toob (even brand new sculpts for species from previous toobs), and overall are some of their best recent work (the reused models stand out because of this).
Some of the figures have also been made by Safari before as part of larger lines, usually the SeaLife line; of course a few are notable enough to have also shown up in the larger scales of the Monterey Bay series (a line that appears to be abandoned but still around, although I could be wrong on the latter point); some more than a couple times. Most, though, have not been tackled by Safari before, and in some cases rarely or never by any other company. It’s seriously surprising how few Swordfish models there are…and of those, how many actually appear to be marlins…even when Papo recently released a swordfish it is clearly a Sailfish (the second of the two billfish in the Safari toob). For the latter, a really nice figure. But it has no way to stay upright without help…the sardine has a base, the sailfish could clearly have used one too.
The other bony fish, the Yellowfin tuna and Sardine (assumed to be a European Sardine) are unique not only to Safari, but (when to species) don’t appear to show up anywhere else at all as figures. This is kind of surprising, especially given the familiarity most people have with them as food animals if nothing else. Very nicely done though, lots of detail and colour. And the sardine figure, due to its being a small shoal on a base, is well-sized to display as a prey item with many of the marine predators made as figures–even prehistoric ones (with a little artistic license…a little paint and sculpting, maybe they could stand in as Enchodus or something like that…maybe I need a second one!?)
The sharks are a little broader. It goes without saying that there is a Great White shark of course–and easily the best small figure model Safari has ever made (and there have been a few)–maybe their best at all? Even at a small size, it looks like it has real bulk and power. The Whale shark is the other given species for a series like this–and the sculpt is also a new one for the toob (but was reused, with lesser paint, for the endangered marine animals toob later). Safari also added in one other shark that has shown up in their toobs before–their Mako shark. This model is already present in the Safari Sharks toob from 2015 and their is a marked difference in its overall style compared to the other figures–it appears more rounded and less detailed. It is painted a little better, so there’s that.
The three other sharks from the set include some definite stand outs as small figures, and all are requiem sharks. The Blue shark appears in the Shark toob as well, but seems to have at least had the sculpt cleaned up around the gills, and the paint is also improved. The Oceanic Whitetip shark recently appeared as a larger figure in the Sea Life series from Safari, but the toob figure does not appear to be a simple miniaturized version; indeed the sculpt and even the paint job seem to better represent the actual animal, with more subtle curves and colouring. Finally, the real treasure, a Silky shark is included, and this is a species that has not shown up ever as a figure. Like the whitetip, this is a novel sculpt, but despite the similar (accurate) paint job the design does a great job of differentiating the two related but distinct species. On its own, this figure makes the toob worth the purchase (but I wholeheartedly recommend the full set anyway).
In short, this is a great marine animal set. The balance is pretty heavily sharks and ‘fast fish’, but they aren’t as common as small figures as we might expect (not counting out of Japan of course…) Given the diversity of pelagic fish and the variety in forms and adaptations, a couple extra species would have been appreciated–perhaps a Mola (until recently available as a larger figure from Safari) and a Manta or Eagle ray (both of which have appeared in toobs, and either could use a reissued sculpt). Or maybe another shoaling fish, or something even more unique? I guess we’ll need Safari to do a second pelagic fish toob, because I wouldn’t have given up any of the included models (a new Mako would have been nice though…) At least, for now, this set is still in production and as I said, I highly recommend it to anyone with any interest in aquatic animals.