Here is the last update of April, with a little delay.
I already presented quite a lot of Japanese figures lately which I finally decided to include in my regular addition topic. Indeed, I only had two Kitan which is not enough to open a new topic and the Yujin turtles were, in my opinion, not exciting enough to deserve their whole thread.
But Colorata, as a brand, is another story. I decided to dedicate a "Rtas' new brands review" to my first purchase from them because that's a brand you're going to keep hearing about in my updates.
Indeed, this brand offers a wide variety of sets which are very profitable and economical, considering the general higher prices rate of Japanese figures on Ebay, as opposed to Western ones. And I have a lot of gaps to fill within the taxonomic groups I neglected, which would cost me an arm and a leg if buy everything separately.
Actually, my main focus on Japanese brands are fishes, reptiles and crustaceans, with a particular highlight and priority on bony fishes. I basically had none or almost none except the marlin, moray eel and reef fishes from Schleich, sailfish from Papo and Goliath grouper from Safari. And I quite honestly didn't intend to get any more until, once more, Andrés corrupted me
At first, he offered me his bloody Yujin mackerels several times (that guy seems to have a horn of abundance of Yujin mackerels, he may be kind of the Godfather of the mackerel figurine trade in Europe) which I refused every times until telling him that he was himself the mackerel of his mackerels ! (in French, the world "mackerel" also refers to a pimp
) But, being a diver and loving fishes, he kept working on me and when I saw his collection video, I had to confess I would have very much enjoyed his pirarucu.
Indeed, trying to convert me to fish figures with a mackerel was not a good strategy. I am no fish freak and am not naturally appealed to them generally speaking so, what fitted me to begin with were iconic and charismatic species which were part of my general zoology knowledge like the impressive arapaïma I had seen so many times in zoos and aquariums, often in the company of manatees.
From then, I regularly checked the availability of this figure on Ebay but almost always only found the old version with a more rudimentary paintjob. Moreover, the price was quite prohibitive for me. But I finally came accross the whole set during my online hunts and checked it more in depths on TAI. That's how I realized that this set was INCREDIBLY interesting for my collection as it only included figures of well-known and spectacular, wether by their appearance or metabolism, species I definitely wanted to have replicas of !!!
That's why I made it my starter set for bony fishes in my wishlist and eventually decided myself to order it from my Japanese seller when he got a Kitan ibis for sale.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
First, let's talk about the packaging. The fishes come with their bases in a small blue box or suitcase, very cute actually. It might be silly of me but I feel like that little box kind of gives a certain quality label to what it contains. Even before having seen the content, it's a promise of accuracy and reliability because that box is simple, sober but aesthetically efficient. I am a seller and I know perfectly how the packaging is often the "vaseline" of companies but here it's not. The content is even better than the expectations given by the container. However, I would nonetheless address a tiny reproach to that box : its lack of handbook. Not that I would have been able to read it but I still think a few pieces of information about the species would have been appreciable for Japanese customers.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
This set costed me 55€ on Ebay and includes seven fish models which roughly gives us an unit price of 7.85€ per figure. That's an extremely interesting price-quality ratio considering the awesomeness of each of them, as you will soon see from the pictures. Some of them are more spectacular than others because of the species they represent but I would say that none is significantly weaker than the rest, which makes this set a top-tier product. Each fish has a base corresponding to the substrate of their natural aquatic environment which is a very clever idea and adds in a subtle way to the educational value of these figures.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
But let's have a look at each of them more carefully.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Only marine species from this set, the coelacanth is certainly an extremely famous species every animal figures collectors, even the least fish-focused ones, would wish on their shelves. It is often considered as the greatest ichthyology discovery of the 20th century and deserves more than any other fish from this set the name of "fossil fish". Indeed, until an alive specimen was catched in 1938, that order was only known from fossils and thought to be extinct since 66 million years, making it a hell of a Lazarus taxon ! Located at a turning point of evolution, they are related to the Sarcopterygii ancestors of terrestrial vertebrates and are thus closer to us than to the mackerels for example. So, a fascinating creature and a must-have for any collector.
I was once about to get a coelacanth much sooner than expected. It was the Safari rendition. Adam offered it to me in exchange of a Papo yak but I finally refused it because of its size and opted for the Mojo gazelle instead.
We are now aware of two living species of coelacanths, the West Indian ocean coelacanth and the Indonesian coelacanth. I assume this model represents the West Indian one which seems to be the most visually iconic but being no fish specialist, I'm not sure.
Aesthetically speaking, that figure is gorgeous. I know some of you prefer substituting it by the Kitan rendition and I think I understand why. The head of that model is maybe too thin which gives it kind of a random fish look without managing to catch the typical craggy face of the coelacanth. Yet, all the other features are very accurate, especially the fins, and you really have to be an absolute coelacanth fan to feel the need of replacing it in my opinion. In any case, this one will be more than enough to me.
To conclude on that first model, here is a comparison with my Safari grouper :[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
The coelacanth is a large fish, measuring up to 1.80 m and weighing roughly 100 kg. So, I agree that my grouper may be slightly
oversized compared to it but again, a Goliath grouper can reach 450 kg so this comparison is still acceptable !!! [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Next comes the lungfish which is, as a lobe-finned fish, relatively close to the coelacanth and the closest relative of terrestrial tetrapods. As its name suggests, the lungfish is mostly known for having lung(s) similar to those of tetrapods which allow them to breathe dioxygen from the air. Actually, most lungfishes do... drown if they don't have access to the surface !!! Only the Queensland "super" lunfish that this figure represents is able to use its gills to breathe underwater and is thus, a true "dipneuste" (French name of lungfish which litteraly means "two ways to breathe").
Another particularity are its pectoral and pelvic fins which have articulations resembling those of tetrapod limbs. The Queensland lungfish actually uses them to "walk" on the bottom of the river and is able to crawl on the floor in order to reach another nearby body of water ! All those characteristics evoke amphibians and this singular "salamander fish" located at a turning point of evolution is definitely one a phylogeny freak cannot miss.
This is not, physically speaking, the most spectacular animal on earth. Yet, it's a very friendly-looking fish, the kind of you would like to have as a buddy ! The Colorata model perfectly catches that rounded and kind-looking general appearance and the paintjob is just allright. So, if it's not a masterpiece, that's only because the species itself is not a beauty but the rendition in figure form is perfect.
Lungfishes are critters I am familiar with because the fishes and reptiles breeding club I was part of in my childhood kept some of them. Of course, I was wayyy more focused on reptiles which I cared for, so I don't remember the lungfishes so well nor the exact species but I think they were African lungfishes.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
The saddled bichir was the only fish I had never heard about before discovering that set. I learnt from my researches that it also breathed its air from the surface, like lungfishes. I also learnt that it lived in Africa, which is a good thing for the geographic diversity and almost exhaustiveness of this set (the coelacanth lives in the ocean, the lungfish is from Oceania, the arapaïma from South America, the alligator gar from North America, the sturgeon and arawona from Asia and the bichir from Africa). Unfamiliar to the species, I don't really have any legitimacy to judge on the accuracy of its replica even if it seems allright from pics I have seen on the net. I am only able to say that the model looks, again, absolutely gorgeous.
The pose is certainly the most refined one of the seven figures. I assume that this bichir is trying to catch a prey, the curve of the body and postition of fins clearly indicate a fast, sudden movement. The result is an incredibly dynamic model which kind of reminds me the ambitious poses of Beauty of the Beasts. That's moreover a brightly coloured fish and a delight for the eyes.
So I didn't know this nice guy but am happy to have met him thanks to this set ![You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Without further delay, here is the big daddy who motivated the whole purchase. The glorious and mighty Arapaïma Gigas !
Largest freshwater fish in the world, it can reach the size and weight of small manatees which it cohabits with in Amazonian rivers... and zoos' aquariums ! So I let you imagine how impactful the sighting of such a monster can be on a child's mind. I discovered this gigantic beast in Beauval zoo where I checked countless new species on my list in a single day during my first visit. I was extremely excited to see manatees for the first time and ended up being almost more amazed by their giant scaly mates. It easily explains why I wanted it to be my very first Japanese branded fish.
I am not afraid to say that this one is a masterpiece. The sculpt is absolutely amazing especially because of its dynamism : indeed, the long body is slightly wavy to portray swimming and, like a Kitan ibis, that pirarucu just looks like a real one swimming to you behind the glass of its aquarium. The facial expression, unlike the coelacanth's, is particularly well catched with that forward lower jaw. The sclales look good but the skin texture of the head is even more impressive. Finally, the updated paintjob is like night and day compared with the old version and makes the figure even more perfect.
The size is fine for an average arapaïma when you compare it with the last Schleich manatee. I wouldn't have enjoyed my arapaïma to be a giant specimen as big as my manatee actually.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
But, of course, it would turn the grouper ridiculously giant, that's why I don't dare to show you any comparison of them [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
I mostly know arowanas from... arapaïmas ! Indeed, arowanas are found in Amazonian rivers and are almost systematically exhibited with their giant neighbours in zoos and aquariums. However, I don't remember those I saw being so beautifully azure and for good reason : that model represents another species from Asia which is known for its wide variety of colours. That's why that new blue painting is so different from the initial release's which was rather yellowish, despite representing the same exact species.
That's arguably the most beautiful figure from the set if you exclude any personal species preference and only take the aesthetic aspect into account. The scales look more real than on any other figure and its refined beauty instantly makes you think about the stereotypical idea we westerners have about oriental elegance. Here, the expression "ornamental fish" takes on its full meaning.
Even if they primarily breathe with their gills, I learnt during my researches for this topic that arowanas were also able to obtain oxygen from air by sucking it into their swim bladder, which is lined with capillaries like lung tissue. It sounds to me like something similar to the cutaneous respiration of mudskippers but I may be wrong. Arowanas are also famous because they are used to jumping from water to catch insects and birds in the air.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
The alligator gar is a quite intimidating river predator which evokes a giant spike or a freshwater barracuda to me. That's a species I saw only once and quite lately in my “zootrotter” career. Indeed, my first and only meeting with it occurred less than a year ago, it was in October during my holidays in the Alps where it rained half the time. Since it prevented us to walk in the mountain, we had to find a plan B. So, we decided to drive three hours away to Switzerland in order to see Lake Geneva and visit Aquatis, the largest freshwater aquarium in Europe. We had seen a documentary about it a few years ago and it was definitely the opportunity we were waiting for to visit it. Honestly, I strongly recommend that aquarium to everyone, whether you are a fish lover or not. The opportunity to visit a freshwater aquarium is rare and this one is the biggest in Europe. It also keeps quite a lot of amphibians and reptiles, especially venomous snakes like the Australian taïpan. I enjoyed very much seeing alive for the first time several salmon and truit species, large pikes, and European eels. Our main contact with these species is usually... gustatory
The main and largest aquarium of that alive museum kept alligator gars. But I did not pay them as much attention as they deserved because they were kind of eclipsed by the even more mesmerizing paddlefishes
Still, I had ample time and opportunity to watch them enough to remember what they look like and be able to judge on the accuracy of the Colorata model. It's actually very good. It's not the most colourful or gorgeous fish but it has a lot of personality with its torpedo-shaped body and elongated nose. Considering its (exagerrated) reputation of aggressive fish attacking humans and its double rows of impressive sharp teeth, it may have been wise to show them with an open-mouthed sculpt but I guess the choice of avoiding a stereotypical pose like Western brands always do can be equally praised.
Like all the other members of that “fossil fish” set, the alligator gar shows some primitive characteristics like the ability to breathe from the air and some digestive features close to those of sharks.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Finally, the sturgeon is a fish everyone knows from general knowledge because of its eggs used to make caviar. I guess a signifant part of the population don't know what it looks like though
I do because the closest aquarium to my hometown keeps some of them even if I don't remember which exact species it is. This one is a Chinese sturgeon, one of the largest and most critically endangered ones. But whatever the species, the general look and silhouette of the Colorata figure will instantly evoke those of sturgeons to anyone who is a bit aware about the real animal. That's why I think that it's again an almost "compulsory" figure even if you are not much into fishes : it directly speaks to our collective imaginary.
A more in depthts look at the accuracy to the precise Chinese species reveals that, once more, Colorata did well. However, if I had to address a reproach to this model, I would point out that the barbels are missing.
The sturgeon justifies its presence in that set of "unusual fishes" and "evolutionary curiosities" by its mostly cartilaginous skeleton which is quite an unique feature for a... bony fish
I was again very talkative and again, it was quite useless as my pictures are worth all my words. You just have to look at them to figure out that this "fossil fish" set is exclusively composed of must-have masterpieces which are as good as models as they are essential as species. If you are starting in the "Japanese game" or just wants a few first bony fishes, you won't find a better deal than this one.
These figures are seamless, they are made of light and rather soft plastic and won't shock at all in a Western-based collection. Just don't try to display them with "weaker" renditions like a Schleich marlin for example but rather with gorgeous Western models like the Safari grouper for example.
That starter set convinced me to trust Colorata on fishes and I am going to order more from them very soon. However, Andrés warned me that this set was not representative of the general quality of the brand's work and that I may be disappointed after having started with the best one. Apparently, Yujin, whose turtles might not be representative of either, offers better reef and freshwater fishes models as well as a wider range of species. Unfortunately, most of them are retired, unlike Colorata sets, so the figures are now only available separately. Anyway, I still have time to decide about reef and freshwater fishes that are not my immediate priority. Indeed, the May purchase will be the sea fishes set whose main jewel for me is obviously the gorgeous sunfish, even if every other species interest me too : [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
Then, at last, I will have a mackerel
The deep sea fish set will certainly follow in June, with the oarfish as a main target. Andrés is trying to convince me to get the Kitan instead but I think the new Colorata version is ok enough and it will be much more profitable to receive five more species for almost the same price [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
Finally the reptile and penguin sets are also considered even if it bothers me that a significant part of their figures will be useless to me (especially in the reptile set).
Well, that was the very last update of that C-R-A-Z-Y and intense April month for my collecting hobby
Now, I will start to answer your comments on my other threads because, believe it or not, creating topics for STS is a full-time job and I didn't have time to do it or was just too fed up with the forum once I had finished my daily writtings. Anyway, I enjoyed very much writting this one because it made me learn a lot of new things about species I thought I knew but didn't really !