Who makes them? Japanese company Yujin, as part of their Primary Freshwater Fish Pictorial Book 2 set–original and revised releases. Number 27 in the set
When did they come out? I honestly can’t begin to guess. I got the revised one in about 2007, so those likely showed up a year or two before that (I purchased a bulk lot in an auction). The original series release was probably a few years before that.
Still available? Only in aftermarkets–it’s easiest in Japan of course.
Where can they be found in my displays? On one of the shelves filled with small fish figures. The Yujin sets alone take a fair amount of space!
How do they fit in the collection? It’s a set of freshwater fishes! Unusual ones, at that–of course I needed to get it. Having both variants was a happy accident, as I find it easier to complete these sets in bulk lots (sometimes).
Any story behind them? When I got my first lot, it was relatively cheap, and I was mostly aiming for the eel and arowana in the set (which, by the way, are great). Getting a nearly complete set was a big bonus. That was where I got the Revised version of the sculpin. Years later, I started doing write ups on the Animal Toy Forum about each figure in both series–get some more Yujin and Freshwater Fish love out there. That was when I realized what figures I was missing and set out to fix that. Which is why I needed to track down more lots, leading to the original version of the sculpin joining the collection as well. It also lead to me learning way too much about the Yujin Freshwater fish, including the very rare versions that I will never get my hands on!
Notable remarks about these figures (a review that isn’t really a review): I am not a sculpin expert, although I have handled local species, so I am at least familiar with them. In short, these figures look almost alive! Yujin did incredible work with their freshwater fishes, and when they are near life-size, like these sculpins, they are unmatched in quality. At 11.5 cm long, the figures are about 1:1.5 scale. For both figures, the overall sculpt and detail has captured the warty texture, as well as the bumps, creases and ridges around the face. The fins on these (and all Yujin fishes in the set) are a nearly translucent material, adding to the effect. The paint jobs are of course quite mottled, just like the real thing. This is where the difference between the versions stands out. The original tends to have less nuanced painting, with less white paint and much heavier, thicker black bars; the red around the gills is also a lot more pronounced. On the revised model the paint scheme is more subtly and is shaded less dramatically, plus the gill colour is more subtle. But both fish are great!
Would I recommend them? If you are a person that collects fish, or wildlife, or aquatic animals, then absolutely. If you do not collect these, these figures (and the rest of the set) would be a good start! There is nowhere near enough variability in the fish models available these days (although some companies are making small steps to change that). This is doubly so for freshwater organisms. So while they aren’t super easy or inexpensive to get I would still suggest at least looking over the series and tracking down a few favorites!