We’re back with a Run the Set again, this time the American Angler collection from Toy Fish Factory. I know I’ve talked about the TFF line at some point–I think in the old version of the blog. Since then, of course, the purpose of the site and how I discuss things has changed. But in case you don’t want to go read an old thing, here’s a quick run down. The guy who created Toy Fish Factory originally had a line called Replica Toy Fish. He had big goals for that one, but production issues eventually caused him to end that line, and start up anew with Toy Fish Factory. The major differences are that RTF was freshwater North American focused while TFF is…not as much so (either N American or freshwater) but still predominantly so. The TFF figures are also only available in 5-pack tackle boxes whereas RTF came in a few types of sets (small tubes, carded, and tackle boxes) as well as individually as bin figures. I personally would prefer small cards or bin figures (sometimes you need a lot of a single species) but that’s just me.
This set is actually item number 002; I think the plan is 20 sets, for 100 fish eventually…I know I am chomping at the bit for many of the sets that are planned. This one is unique in that the species are…wholly not unique. At least to collectors of the RTF figures, since all five were released previously. It does give a good insight into changes between the two lines, for better or not. I know that my personal taste found this set to be less…inspiring. But that might be because my interests lie with more ‘oddball’ style fish, as well as broader diversity. And, I suppose, none of these are all that close to home (except as introductions in a few cases) so maybe that’s where that comes from.
One thing to immediately note is that these figures are made of a softer material, with a little more give than the original RTF figures. In terms of sculpt they are very similar although not exactly the same; and they maintain the flat, straight poses of the predecessor line as well. And of course, they follow the same general size proportions as the 3″ RTF series (no 6″ versions are planned, which is disappointing). This gives a scale range of 1:3 for the Bluegill to 1:15 for the striped bass (the others all fall in around 1:8). In terms of paint design they are a little broader than RTF. For some fish, like the crappie and bluegill, there is some nice shading in their colours; on others like the striper the lines are almost comically dark and the channel catfish spotting are way, way to dark and prominent. The bass, while shaded nicely, is missing some paint detail (as is the crappie–most have some kind of banding or mottling on the sides).
Despite what sounds like complaints, it doesn’t bother me as much as some people. The first line was Replicas, the current line is Toys, so the nature of the models is slightly different. I do know that bringing back the channel catfish was probably very welcome, that was one of the most popular of the original line and the first to sell out permanently. The others are also very familiar to many people, hence the American Angler designation. I do know that I was very happy to have the line come back out in some form. Given the state of freshwater species overall, anything that can be done to promote the species in it is a positive step; the wider scope of Toy Fish Factory will also be great for sharing the diversity of the world’s fish (but…I really hope the other sets come out soon).
The good news is that of course this set is still readily available–I still have some in stock in the store, along with the three other current sets (all of which tend to be, in their ways, admittedly more unique than this one)! For anyone that is interested in fish, fishing, underwater life, or just something a little different, they are great sets, and it would be great to encourage a series with such lofty goals (seriously–I need the proposed western trout and primitive fishes series. NEED). Even better, if we can show the big guys that these are popular with figure buyers (toys or collections, whatever) maybe we’ll see more than the occasional reef fish from them too (yes, that’ me throwing down a gauntlet…I’ve tried to convince companies for years!).