It’s time to look at a set today–toob from Safari Ltd. This one is the South African animals toob, released in 2020 under number 100409. It kind of snuck by me somehow when it first came out, but I was fortunately reminded about it, and able to get it fairly quickly. At least Safari is still generally available, even in Canada.
Safari of course has always been notable for their toobs of small figures, but we have seen a reduction in the number they are releasing. But while they are reducing the number of toobs (and figures overall) they are at last doing some interesting things (unless you want prehistoric toobs…it’s been a very long while there, even with reissues). Anyway, among the modern figures, Safari has always done themes like ‘animal groups’ or ‘broad environments’, and they still do that. But starting in about 2017 they started making toobs that might considered geographic (like a Pacific and Pelagic toob) and then more recently, toobs based on relatively specific areas.
The set includes nine figures and for the most part there aren’t any particular surprises. If anyone was going to guess what animals would be included, most of them would likely hit the list, with maybe a couple of surprises. One minor disappointment is that the whole set is mammals…I’m surprised not even an ostrich or vulture made the set. Or a cool reptile of some kind. But the figures they have made are overall decent. Hopefully they do a new one at another time.
The figures in the set are probably not what we would normally think of as ‘South African’ animals per se, especially if we are reading South African as the ‘country’ as opposed to the general geographic region. And the figures that have been added to the set are pretty much the mammals we’d expect to see in a collection like this–Lion, Elephant, Rhino, Giraffe, Zebra. A Lioness is a nice addition to balance the lion. The other animals are a little more intriguing–the Baboon and Cape Buffalo are well-done and nice figures. But let’s be honest, I was going to get the toob just for the Spotted Hyena.
The figures in the toob are overall very well-sculpted. The models have a great amount of detail and in general do a great job of representing the animals. Best of all, as far as I can tell, all of the animals are unique models, not miniaturized versions of existing ones (and with Safari, I am pretty certain that every one of these species has been made at least once). They are of course roughly the same size, as opposed to being to scale with each other, but that’s pretty standard for toon sets. As for the paint jobs, well…most of them are very good or at least serviceable. But that zebra and giraffe are kind of weak, even sloppy. Even more strange, their stripes and reticulations are sculpted in very deeply, even though it should just be a pattern on the surface. So…not my favorite versions of these animals.
Overall, this is a set that I quite enjoy. I think it would have some great appeal to a lot of people, either as a toy set or as collectables. It does kind of remind me of the animal sets I had as a kid (although, again–not even a crocodile?) even though the modern pricing inflation of even these types of sets is a little daunting. Still, it is what it is–there are figures that should appeal to many collectors, and many are in scales that are going to be appealing to those who make dioramas or prefer certain scales (the lions are roughly 1:40, for example, while the hyena and baboon are near the 1:20 or 1:30, as examples). The good news is that the set is of course still available; but as with most Safari toobs I highly recommend getting the set in its first run to get the best possible quality.