Who makes it? This is a classic from Safari Ltd, part of the small Tennessee Aquarium salamanders set. This one is item number 2104.
When did it come out? Apparently 1995!
Still available? Sadly, no. The whole series ended in the early 2000s or so, but could still be found into the mid-2000s. Good luck finding them in their original forms, although the moulds of a few of the species found new life as generic salamander or glow-in-the-dark figures by Safari
Where can it be found in my displays? I have a shelf in a cabinet that is primarily (though not exclusively) salamanders. Overall, not a heavily represented group of animals in most series so they don’t take much (enough?) room.
How does it fit in the collection? It’s one of those things, I enjoy the salamanders, so I try to get interesting ones. The Tennessee Aquarium series is easily the coolest!
Any story behind it? Back when I found it, I had a friend who had been searching for them, and found a little online shop that still had all of them. So of course I ordered them (except the big mudpuppy, I already had it). Without that friend’s help I probably wouldn’t have been able to track them down so easily. Sadly, like many shops from back in those days, it’s long gone now.
Notable remarks about this figure (a review that isn’t really a review): First off, of the series, this is probably the figure with the most complicated colour scheme. From what I can tell, Safari came pretty darn close to capturing the shape and proportions, and almost got the overall colours right. They just left the feet as boots, when that speckling on the upper leg should have carried all the way down (although that might be regionally or individually variable). Some of the paint strokes are a little broad, but again, for a mass-market model, it’s pretty good, and could only represent this one species! The body has a lot of motion and wriggle to it, reflecting the way these animals move; the shine in the paint gives the salamander a wet appearance, just like in life, so it can literally breath–being lungless salamanders they require moist skin for oxygen exchange. The figure is about 14cm along the curves (it’s a challenge to measure), so it’s about 1:1.5 (assuming a full grown animal, maybe it’s a small one). Overall, this figure looks so life-like it could almost pass for the real thing (from a distance, it’s not very active).
Would I recommend it? These are so fantastic! Everyone should get them…is what people should have said 20 or 25 years ago (I know I passed them over when they first came out). They still show up, and older shops may still have the odd one lying around, but this whole series is incredibly desirable for collectors. I don’t know if they are expensive to actually obtain, because I haven’t seen any offered for sale in many, many years. Maybe if they were tagged (do I have the tags? Nope.) So keep your eyes out and hope you come across them…or better yet, hope the Safari re-releases them properly again! Maybe in an even bigger series! I’m glad I have them, and anyone I know that has them is pretty happy about it too!