I’m going to look at another Kaiyodo ChocoEgg figure today, not surprising since I have so many of them! This is one from the very first Furuta Animaltales series, the one that kicked it all off! The first several series was, I think, entirely focused on Japanese fauna, which was fantastic for those of us that collect animal figures–so many species (from so many clades) that were otherwise produced (or at least produced in a decent form). This Japanese Giant salamander is a good example of what was produced. As far as I could tell, this is the first time a definite cryptobranchid salamander figure was made and as a first effort, it’s quite pleasing. It was clearly important to the developer of the line, this figure is number 05 in the entire series of…I think it reaches into the hundreds!
As with most of the initial Kaiyodo Furuta ChocoEgg figures, there is a bit of a first draft to them! Much of the sculpt is a little smooth, but there is a lot of surface sculpt and detail for such a small figure. The paint is also a little basic, with a light brown overall and many dark brown spots and some dark brown highlights in the folds around the limbs. The facial features are also picked out in the same dark brown. The figure is very recognizable as a giant salamander, but a little simplistic. It’s also a multi-piece figure, and unfortunately the tail is actually a little different in paint and even detail markings. It seems to stand out differently depending on angle, oddly enough.
It took me a while to track down one of these figures, seeing as I hadn’t learned about them until a few years after series 1 was released, and then of course it was harder to find. But with a little patience it was possible to find a connection in Japan. At the time, it was especially great to have because of the connection of cryptobranchid fossils in Palaeogene Saskatchewan (where I was in grad school learning more about the fossil history of the time than I thought possible). So it was awesome to get one of what was then an unusual animal model.
Sadly, these series were always limited in terms of time and geography, but they can still be found (prices vary of course). The good news is that there is clearly some pride in these giant amphibians in Japan, as the animal has been produced as a figure by so many other companies, and even several different subsequent versions from Kaiyodo. And the good news is that they just get better and better. Of course, they’re all from Japan. And most are parts of capsule or other limited series, many of which aren’t available–but there is a decent Eikoh one, and those are a line of animal toys, no limits, no capsules! So while I’d recommend this Furuta figure, for those who just really need a cryptobranchid in the collection, there are lots of possibilities!