Who makes it? One of the figures in the Epoch “Life Account of the Trip” series of gashapon figures, the Marine Fish set. Item number 05.
When did it come out? It’s hard to say. Probably around early to mid-2000s.
Still available? No, like many of these sets they are limited releases. They show up somewhat regularly on Japanese auction sites.
Where can it be found in my displays? In a cabinet filled with lots of small Japanese figures. Including a few different Japanese-made garden eels…
How does it fit in the collection? It’s an eel, and I am a fan of eels–near the top of the list for fish that I like figures of. So of course I have it.
Any story behind it? Not exactly, it’s just one of many figures obtained in a lot at some point. The set itself is a bit of a variety of marine animals at least–including one other garden eel!
Notable remarks about this figure (a review that isn’t really a review): Overall, it’s a good figure. As far as even eel figures go, garden eels are fairly simple in overall shape. Plus, as with every garden eel figure, they make it simple by only being half visible! Depending on the company it can be a simple base, a detailed ground diorama, or as in this case, a standard stylized base (the same translucent-yellow base is used for each figure the set). The eel itself does a good job of representing the pattern and morphology of a garden eel, and definitely has look of a spotted garden eel (the most common species made as a figure).
Would I recommend it? I will always recommend eel figures! This one is a good one to have (if you can get the companion splendid garden eel as well, even better). That said, it wouldn’t be the easiest one to get–they haven’t been made for a while. And given that there are some garden eels still currently available as regularly available toys (Colorata has some in a set, and Eikoh makes one as an individual figure). And other companies often make garden eels as part of sets as well (as of this writing, Ikimon has a set out of four species). Of course they’re all Japanese figures, but it’s not impossible to find at least some of them. As for the Epoch one, it’s probably a tougher one to track down.