Vault tales Run the Set 138 Colorata Saltwater Fish box (original)

Well, after so many posts about individual fish figures from this set, we are going to see them all as a Run the Set! This is probably one of my favorite sets (though of course not the favorite…there is a set with a bichir after all), and was one of the earlier ones that I managed to get. It is of course the Colorata Saltwater fish box–this is the original one. I got it in at least 2007 based on older photos. I am not sure when it was revised, but the major changes included an update to the marlin paint scheme and the change to individual bases for each fish. Most of the sculpts remain in the same excellent state.

The set is focused on mostly familiar species that are overall commercially important–or interesting–in Japan. In fact, that handy guidebook includes all kinds of information, including how edible the species are (of the 15 species, the ocean sunfish is the lowest of course, at ‘not bad’). The book is bilingual, in English and Japanese, as by this time in Colorata’s run they had changed (I have one of the oldest sets, and the whole booklet is Japanese only). The book let I have also uses a coded system for their overall ecology, be they littoral or migratory; and if they are dangerous (that seems…like a different category). The current set divides them into open ocean/pelagic; coastal/surface; and bottom-dwelling which seems more useful.

As is common with Colorata sets, the figures are not kept to a particular size or a particular scale. As such, the scales range from 1:56 for the sunfish to 1:5 for the pilchard and bream. But depending on how you look at them, the halibut and marlin look to be among the biggest figures. It probably isn’t important in some respects, but it certainly underplays how large–or how small–some of these species are!

I have mentioned the base thing before, but with all of them in one place, it becomes more obvious. All of the open-water fish, be they ‘surface’ or ‘open ocean’ (by the newer Colorata divisions anyway) use the same plain, translucent blue base with 3 peg holes–and there are not enough for each fish to have their own; that means that some fish will have to share. On the other hand, the bottom-dwellers all get their distinct, realistic base made just for them (the fish names are stamped on the bases as well as the fish). The new version has a single base for each fish, reflecting their habitat category. The sunfish gets a special one so that the jellyfish can share the space.

Forcing the fish to share a base can, I suppose, create different opportunities for display–in the Mahi-mahi post, I demonstrated that fish being displayed with the flying fish as they are often associated as predator-prey. But one could also combine similar scaled-animals, or similar-looking animals. It’s probably easier with individual bases though. I know from experience that combining the fish together means also cutting the acrylic rods so that they vary in height, otherwise they don’t display well (that why the photos will show each one with different length rods, they don’t come like that).

The bases for the bottom dwellers are especially interesting, since a great deal of effort and care has gone into them. The sand flats dwellers (the gurnard and halibut) get basic flat ones, with a little rockwork; but the bream, puffer and especially scorpionfish get very large, elaborate set ups. It’s probably more properly reminiscent of their environments, while the ‘bottom’ of a pelagic fish is…none. But still, it seems like a lot of effort for 1/3 of the figures. The details on those bases are very impressive; at least two feature gastropods of some kind (the puffer and scorpionfish); I guess if you’re dangerous they also throw in some food. Or, if you taste ‘not bad’ because the sunfish also gets a little extra in the form of a jellyfish prey figure; perhaps because the other pelagic figures already demonstrate predator and prey? But the other benthics don’t have this, so it’s probably just artists’ choice. Also, at similar scale to the sunfish, that is a big jellyfish!

So that’s the whole set! I’m sure we’ll look at the rest of these in more detail somewhere in the future (as a percentage, this Colorata set seems to come up more often for some reason). Although I am happy to have the original set, either one is easily recommendable. That said, outside of Japan you’re going to need help getting them–they generally are not sold beyond there, even for online sale from the Colorata site. But of course it’s not impossible; I have had help from friends and businesses, and there are ebay sellers and such that sell them (watch out for the markups though). The soft PVC material also means that they are more able to be handled without fear (other than the few with pectoral fins that come off). Overall, a solid set that I don’t think is like any other currently available.