Many years back I wrote a praise-filled post about the Replica Toy Fish Company line of fish toys. I stand by it today with a few caveats—there were eventually several new additions to the line including a large number of salmonids (trout & salmon), a few different bass, and some small gar and sturgeon models! There were even a few that didn’t make full release, but sometimes even made it into the store.
But, as may be clear, the line has now been discontinued for any number of reasons. I have talked with the originator of the line, and he had too many issues with his original process. Nevertheless, it’s a great line that will probably be very collectible for years to come. There are still a very few species left for sale as individuals, but most are now difficult or impossible to get, some for longer than others (the large Channel Catfish has been unavailable for many years now).
But with all that, his fishy dream couldn’t die! The world of fish is just so vast, interesting and under-represented!
And with that, he developed a concept for a new line—still fishes, still in tackleboxes, but this time with a wider scope than only North America—unique and well-known fish from around the world! And with that, Toy Fish Factory was born!
And we now have the first two sets in store!
Each set from the company will be 5 species following a particular theme.
This first one, American Angler, may look like familiar models—similar sculpts, fresh paint jobs, but favorites of American anglers!
Largemouth bass, Bluegill, Channel catfish and Striped bass, and Crappie (I think a white crappie?).
This set provides some continuity between the two companies, featuring some of North America’s favorite sport fish. It also allows for easy comparison. These new models have deeper paint jobs, stand up better (especially the bluegill…!) and the material is a little softer—still rigid, but more forgiving of an attempt to, say, bend the tail. Not that RTF models were easily broken, but the material was more stiff.
The second set on the other hand is truly a unique one, and give an idea of what is coming from TFF—the River Monsters collection! Of the five animals, at least 3 of the fish have never been an easily found figure, if they ever were one; and one may be the first model outside of Japan.
This set clearly takes inspiration from an Animal Planet show of the same name (and a National Geographic show of a similar name)! Five species of fish that may have been familiar to some fish fans—but most people probably weren’t that familiar with them, and now we have some models so we can take a closer look.
This set includes a Giant Tigerfish, an Arapaima (or Pirarucu), a Goonch Catfish, a Giant Snakehead, and a Piranha (the species isn’t specified; probably a red-bellied).
Of these fish, 4 were probably made most famous by depictions of their big teeth and strong fights on hook & line on TV shows; piranha are of course well-known, if exaggerated, for their viciousness. All of these are sculpted with their big, famous teeth (except the Arapaima…there are teeth on their tongue, and that just doesn’t work in a toy this size!) And now they’re made as toys, great for play time or diorama building—or something different for an action figure to do!
Speaking of which, here’s a couple of to-scale scenes.
These figures are similar size to the original 3″ Replica Toy Fish line–some are a little shorter, based on proportions, and each has its own berth in the tackle boxes. They are not available separately, but then why would anyone want a partial set? And let’s all keep our eyes out, because there are plans for 20 sets over the next few years, with all kinds of fish, and we all need to give fish more love!