Vault tales #28 K&M Red Salamander

Who makes it? The company is called Wild Republic now, but back in the day, the good figures were K&M International. That’s what this salamander is branded as, part of their ‘medium’ size rubber salamander set. Item number 20757

The stamp on the belly, giving away the age of this particular mold. There were so many in the late 90s, most of which are likely lost. Which is unfortunate, because they used to have a great range of animal figures.

When did it come out? Unlike many of the more obscure ones, the stamp makes this easy to pin down. It’s faint, but likely says 1998 (or 1993…). This figure must still be in production, because the tag is labelled as Wild Republic now.

Here’s the big guy in full. It’s a very hefty red salamander (red-spotted salamander)

Still available? I picked this up in the last few years, and have seen them since elsewhere. So while availability is sporadic they are still out there.

Where can it be found in my displays? This one actually belongs to my son and is on his shelves. I do have others from the same set. The mold is the same, the paint scheme and associated name differs.

It’s coming right at you! And sticking it’s tongue out at you…

How does it fit in the collection? Although it is a small part of my collection, maybe because there aren’t many, I have always been a fan of salamanders and newts. So I pick up what I find where I can.

Any story behind it? I believe we were visiting Atlanta when we got this one–at their zoo. Being in the prairies of Canada, it was so cool to see the range of reptiles and amphibians that are found there (our diversity is…limited). So of course, an excellent souvenir is a few salamander figures (yes, more than one was found that day)! Also, I quite enjoyed the Atlanta Zoo and would suggest that people who can go, should.

I’m not an amphibian expert by any means. Not even close. But I’m pretty sure that salamander tongues don’t look like that.

Notable remarks about this figure (a review that isn’t really a review): Well, first off, it’s a bit of a chunky figure–I have looked all over at photos of red-spotteds and I cannot find any that have that folds-and-rolls look along the side, they appear to be more smooth and sleek. And the spots are really too big and blotchy. And the figure is BIG compared to the real animal…or probably most salamanders. The figure is about 30cm, when the actual animal tops out around 18 cm or so. It does overall give a good approximation of a generic salamander, if not this particular species. But that tongue! I know that salamanders hunt with their tongues, and have tongues, but they do not have forked tongues like that. Again, not an expert on them, but it’s a weird addition–it means that during sculpting someone took the time to add a very thin, easily broken but hard to cast bit at the end. But made it snake-like. Weird. But easy to fix with a scalpel or exacto blade, I just haven’t.

But look at that face! It knows it represents a group of animals that are sorely underrepresented as figures (I could take this to mean salamanders, amphibians in general, ‘herpetological’ organisms in general, freshwater life in general, or obscure and misunderstood wildlife in general. Take your pick. There are too many cows and lions and great white sharks*. There, I said it).

Would I recommend it? Definitely. Even though it’s not great as a salamander figure, there aren’t many out there (and of those that are, are usually worse, or hard to get from Japan). They are not expensive either. If you are looking for accuracy, try to find the ‘small’ set; they tend to be a little more true to morphology (but still have that dumb tongue). They are also softer figures, so might be more appropriate for kids as toys than the PVC versions that can be found. But at least it expands the range of animals they play with, and that is never a bad thing.

* of course I still have several great white shark figures. They’re still cool. There’s just sooooo many other animals out there that could use attention.