Country/State : France Age : 29 Joined : 2020-02-09 Posts : 1363
Subject: Platter of seafood ! (NBR n°5 : Yujin/Takara) Thu Jun 10, 2021 10:17 pm
I recently announced in my regular addition topic that I would soon welcome a totally new taxon in my collection and take as step further in my collecting hobby by getting figures using an unprecedented method.
I'm not talking about a new family, nor a new order, nor even a new class but a new phylum, the arthropods !
Despite a more and more open-minded criteria, most insects and arachnids remain too small to be featured in my collection. However, the largest arthropods are big enough to be represented at a similar scale to the vertebrates I already have. And the largest arthropods are all crustaceans.
That's why I recently paid more attention to that taxon. Since all major brands renditions are humongous, I had to turn my eyes to Japanese brands. And still not being an expert in Japanese, I had a look to Andrés' collection which already includes a lot. It made me realize what I wished and what I didn't want for my crustacean collection. For example, I was not convinced by his Kaiyodo spider crab but filled with enthusiasm about his Yujin coconut crab. I thus had a closer look to the available options for crustaceans on TAI, YT and else and it confirmed me that Yujin had both the best array of species and models for crabs. Moreover, Yujin crustaceans usually have no base, instead of most Kaiyodos. I am an animal toys collector and even if I'm demanding on accuracy, realism and aesthetism, I do want my models to still look like figures. With their bases and their poses a bit too dynamic for my taste, the Aquatales Kaiyodos of Andrés looked too much like statues to me.
After further researches, I discovered that Yujin had produced a whole set of crabs including very iconic, charismatic and diverse species. There were a spider crab, a king crab, a coconut crab, three huge species that would fit in my collection sizewise, but also severall smaller species that despite being necessarily oversized in toy form, would be compulsory additions to my collection. Namely the ermit crab, the mantis shrimp and the American crayfish.
So, all was for the best in the best of possible worlds : I had found the core of my crustacean collection and just had to buy that whole set to get almost everything I wanted
However, I quickly discovered a tiny obstacle to my plan : [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
Most of these figures were indeed rare and retired and buying them in lot did not make it cheaper, it was the exact opposite !
I then figured out that Yujin had been in fact taken over by Takara and both brands were now part of the same company. It helped me understand why the turtle set I had was branded Takara while it was initially made by Yujin : Takara was currently re-releasing the original Yujin sets and the crustaceans were one of them. The Takara version had nevertheless a slightly different selection of species but... I did prefer that new one ! Indeed, the red-clawed crab was replaced by a fiddler crab which I consider as the most distinctive "regular" crab of all, and despite I regretted the lack of mantis shrimp, it was replaced by a slipper lobster that I equally liked. No shrimp was included in this one but even if I'm ready to accept oversizing as far as crustaceans are concerned, a shrimp the size of a lobster would have surely disturbed me more than the crayfish and ermit crab !
Unfortunately, that Takara release did not seem more common than the original Yujin set in the Western world. So, I had to turn my eyes to the rising sun.
I am much aware of what happened to Prometheus and I will not risk to suffer the wrath of Zeus for the only altruism of revealing the secrets of fire so I'll keep my sources for myself. But I guess most of you will have understood which ones they are
Let's just say that I managed to get for 110€ (including all taxes and intermediaries), something that would have costed me at least three times more on Ebay, had I ever found it. 110€ for 8 figures which gives us an average cost of 14€ per figure. Considering that the spider crab itself is rarely seen at a lower price than 40, I consider my deal as a great one.
That's the Takara set I bought, not the Yujin one. I plan to fill the Yujin gaps with individual purchases later. It is normally made of eight regular figures plus two secret ones but mine is lacking the surprises which are the albino crayfish and female fiddler crab. As you may assume, I absolutely don't give a shit about the albino crayfish but as the wedding planner I am, I would have enjoyed the female fiddler. That's not such an important figure though and considering its quite high price separately, it's very unlikely my fiddler gentleman will ever breed. [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
As you know, it's a tradition for me to introduce a new brand in my collection with a separate, more detailed topic than the usual addition updates. You may also remember that my very first Japanese figures were the Takara turtles. However, as cute as they are, these shelled reptiles were not exciting enough to justify a new topic in my opinion. With those crabs, I am able to present you true worthy enough masterpieces to do justice to Yujin/Takara. Here is then, Rtas' new brands reviews n°5 dedicated to these brands.
Before reviewing each model more in depths, let's say some generalities about them. Just like the turtles, these figures come in several parts you have to assemble on your own, Japanese style. Just like the turtles, the seals are awfully sculpted and you have to use a knife to reshape them and make everything fit. Unlike the turtles however, these figures include very thin and fragile parts like the antlers and legs... and are crazy rare and expensive. As a consequence, these crabs are a perfect cocktail to make you spend one hour in the middle of the night, struggling to put them together by butchering them with a knife, freaking out to break something and ruin your investment. But once the torture is over, the result is more than convincing since, like turtles, crabs are very good candidates for assembly figures with all the complex articulations their anatomy show, and no single seam is visible. [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
As previously mentionned, the Japanese spider crab was for me, and for anyone making a mammal-sized collection I guess, the most wished crustacean. Andrés' Kaiyodo with its blue base did not convince me so I made my researches and quickly figured out that the Yujin/Takara rendition was the best. That video, from Canadian famous (but crazy expensive) Ebay seller Jubei88 helped me a lot.
Indeed, the spider crab model is particularly relevant to illustrate the superiority of Yujin/Takara as far as crustaceans are concerned. No spider crab from Japanese brands is really bad, they all show an average good quality but only the Yujin one has that "little more" of realism that makes it look a true alive animal. That subtelty in paintjob and texture which makes it really accurate and that Jubei mentions in his video.
Unfortunately, as I said before, that model is also the most expensive of all and rarely seen below 40€ on Western webpages. But even if my choices are sometimes based on the only availability criteria for species I don't really care about (like my quite shitty Schleich turkey for example) I made it a point of honor to make things well with my crustaceans !
The unboxing confirmed my first assumption : the Japanese spider crab is the most impressive figure of the set. What is particularly amazing are the articulations of the animal, especially where the legs and body link up. In this respect, the Yujin/Takara figure is undeniably better than the Kaiyodo, check Jubei's video again. What I also especially enjoy is the "face" of this giant crab... Giving such an alien looking critter an expressive face was quite a challenge but Yujin managed it in a brilliant way without anthropomorphizing it. The mouth is greatly sculpted as the mandibles are clearly distinguishable and the eyes well detached from the shell which makes them prominent and helps providing a "proper face" to the crab. The paintjob is extremely delicate (look at those legs' pattern) and the pose very convenient for display, even if I don't display anything.
So, I never thought I would EVER say that about an assembly figure from gashapon machines but this is truly a masterpiece. [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
The king crab was a well-known, ABC, compulsory species for my collection too, considering the overfishing it is subject to. I saw documentaries about king crab fishing in Alaska, that's a harsh job in extreme conditions. Guys sail for several weeks in the middle of winter, when the weather is the coldest (especially in Alaska !) since the most favourable season occurs between October and January. Their objective is to fill the ship's holds as soon as possible to reach shore back and escape that frozy hell. This is, literally speaking, a race for survival as the Alaskan crab fishing is statistically the most dangerous job in the United States ! On average, one fisherman dies every week during the crab seasons ! Drowning, hypothermia and industrial accidents are the main causes of death.
One would assume the corresponding figure hunt would be at least half as hazardous but it's not. Strangely enough, the king crab is by far the cheapest and most common figure from this set on Ebay. I could have bought it separately for 10€ from my usual Japanese seller. Andrés was insisting about it but I'm glad I took my time because it let me discover the whole set and avoid doubles. Actually, that king crab and the Kaiyodo coconut crab that my usual Ebay seller both offered were the opportunities that drove me into having a closer look at crab figures as I was convinced by the king but not the coconut.
Because of that commonness, it may not be as exciting as it deserves to me. It remains, nonetheless, a gorgeous model.
The brown, slightly reddish colour of the upper part is absolutely right, to begin with. They really found the perfect shade in my opinion. Then, the rough, spiny texture of the shell, so characteristic of king crabs is accurate too. But again, I feel like the best part is the face ! Just look at these eyes, they are just cute as hell, although not “cartoon-cute” They really managed to give a sooo craby expression to what I considered as one of the least expressive crustaceans. I have seen many king crabs in my life but maybe just never paid attention or had a close enough look to them as they just were faceless in my mind (I mean, I knew they had necessarily eyes and a mouth but just didn't expect them to form a such distinguishable face). We often say that pictures do not do justice to figures but in this particular case, the close-up highlights the facial expression of this not so large figure. [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
The red swamp crayfish was another must-have species for more personal reasons this time. I often talk about that seaside and marshes area where I used to go on holidays every summer when I was a child. Well, these Louisiana crayfishes have literally invaded that region where they have become the main source of food for Ardeidae and Threskiornithidae I watch and photograph so much. That's why they are so familiar to me. The initial Yujin set included a Japanese crayfish which is missing in the Takara version. I guess many of you would prefer it as a more "noble" species for your collection but I personally do enjoy the red swamp crayfish more precisely because it is a bloody invasive pest ! And for good reason as it is sometimes considered as the most ecologically plastic species in the order Decapoda, an adaptability that allowed it to conquer almost every continents.
The figure itself is great and shows the crustacean in a defensive pose typical of crayfishes that makes it even more readily identifiable. It comes in three parts, the body, the legs, the pincers and the head and trust me, it's by far the most painful one to assemble. Those long antlers on the head are so amazingly looking but also so thin that they seem highly breakable. And of course, the head does not fit properly in the body and you have to reshape the seal with a knife and then force it like a brute to put both parts together whithout breaking the antlers. But in the end, the pain is worth the gain. Tell me and be honest : how many of you did notice that the head and body were not sculpted from only one single piece ?
Of course, you saw it on the first group pic, that crayfish is crazy oversized. Even the humongous Papo heron which is so gigantic that it forced me to change my whole wading birds scale would not dare to feast on that lobster-sized monster. But I am ready to accept a certain size discrepancy for very small animals and, as I already said, I needed it too much to afford passing on it. [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Let's get to some more “regular” crab species now. The blue swimming crab is a species I have to admit not being aware of before dicovering that set. But I did my research and learnt that it was one of the most fished crabs in the world, especially in Asia. It's a crab that, aesthetically speaking, has nothing particular, unlike every other figures included in that set. As a consequence, I will use it as my reference “vanilla” crab since I needed one and no edible crab is available at a decent size.
Once more, the articulations of the legs, the scales of the belly's shell, the eyes and mandibles of the mouth and the incredibly delicate paintjob for such a small figure make a gorgeous model out of a relatively insignificant species. At first, I was a bit bothered by the flatness of the legs though. But then, I checked the real animal and they are actually supposed to be like that. [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
The tetragonal fiddler crab is, like the blue swimming one, another “regular crab-looking” crab but definitely NOT a visually insignificant one this time ! This family of crustaceans are, in my opinion, the most charismatic and iconic crabs in the world. Their abnormally enlarged right pincer is a distinctive feature that speaks to our collective imaginary. Everyone has this image in mind, for having seen it in some documentaries. That's why it was so important for me to own one and why this particular species, missing from the original Yujin release, was the one to decide me in favour of the Takara new version.
There are other fiddler crab figures from other brands, representing other species of course, but I was more interested in featuring this family in my collection rather than any precise species. So my choice for the Takara tetragonal was only motivated by aesthetic preferences.
Fiddler crabs are small crustaceans not exceeding 5 cm so this model is surely huge. And size DOES matter with fiddler crabs : the more the males' major claw is big the more ladies enjoy !
As far as they are concerned, the Takara set normally includes one as a secret figure. You know I love to collect pairs which are even more interesting when there is a strong sexual dimorphism. But Mrs Fiddler is missing in mine and that loss is certainly what gave me the opportunity to get the set at such a reasonable price. So I don't really mind and will perfectly survive without it. [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
I know there aren't many gamers on this forum but the coconut crab is the typical critter you would expect to see and fight in the fantasy RPG Morrowind, the third installment of The Elder Scrolls series (you may be more familiar with the fifth opus, Skyrim), which takes place in a very alien-looking world featuring weird giant arthropod monsters. Cos' this is what this species is, a monster ! Despite being the same size as the other ones, the actual animal this figure represents is supposed to be the second largest of the set, below the spider crab. Considered as the largest land arthropod on earth, the coconut crab can indeed reach 17 kg. It draws its name from its ability to open coconuts and eat their content but is actually omnivorous with a much more diverse diet.
Its physical appearance can look quite alien at first sight but, looking at it more carefully, it's easy to understand that it's nothing more than a huge ermit crab without shellfish shell.
Its size and weird look makes this species a required ABC in anyone's collection. The only question is then which figure to choose. It's indeed a popular crab in toy form and that debate was actually the starting point of my whole crustacean investigation. Andrés had the Yujin one but advised me to get a Kaiyodo our Japanese seller was offering for less than 10€. But it was shapeless to me and I could not distinguish anything in it. It took me some time to figure out the reason of such a confusion : the figure didn't even have antlers ! I thus told Andrés there was no way I would follow his suggestion and started to go hunting the same Yujin/Takara as his !
Maybe it's not so difficult to make a masterpiece out of a coconut crab figure because the species is already very charismatic but Yujin does it better than any other else in my opinion. The antlers missing on the Kaiyodo are here absolutely amazing and those violet eyes, how creepy they are ! Once more, keep in mind that these are all pretty small figures so the preciseness and delicacy of the paintjob have to be praised too. That paintjob is what makes all the difference with Kaiyodo and Colorata's renditions which look so plain and tasteless in comparison. Only the Epoch may be an acceptable alternative but still nothing comparable IMO. [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Another advantage of this rendition is the lack of base : every other model is portrayed with the iconic coconut, what is bothering. [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
The big guy comes with two tiny cousins which are necessarily, as the crayfish, crazy oversized. But again, who would pass on an ermit crab in his/her collection ?
The one included in the Takara set is on the right. The species is blueband ermit crab (Pagurus samuelis), a common species on the West coast of the United States. It's good and its head is quite impressively detailed for such a tiny figure, yet not as enjoyable as the other one on the left in my opinion. Indeed, that one perfectly matches the general idea I have about what an ermit crab should look like. In my mind, the vanilla ermit crab is red and has those bulging friendly eyes the other one lacks. The species is Dardanus pedunculatus, the anemone ermit crab, and it's only included in the original Yujin release so I had to get it separately for around 14€ (but I had to pay all the taxes a second time ).
However, as gorgeous as it may be, I didn't buy this figure for the crab but for its cnidarian stowaway. Indeed, this species share a symbiotic relationship with a particular sea anemone species, Calliactis polypus, which it settles on its shell in order to protect itself from its predator the octopus. I still lacked an anemone so I saw it as the only opportunity for me to add one to my collection since there is none at a decent size on TAI. In fact, the Colorata saltwater fish set and its tiny jellyfish figure gave me the idea.
Too bad I didn't think about taking my Schleich clownfish with me, I could have showed you a threesome symbiotic relationship (but I'm not sure it can happen in the wild). [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Last but not least is the strangest member of the family, the slipper lobster. As I already said, it's only included in the Takara set and replaces the mantis shrimp from the Yujin version. I liked and wanted both but I had to make a choice and the fiddler crab made me decide. Known as "sea cicada" in French, this is basically the halibut of crustaceans with its flat body ! The figure is perfect from the top, nothing to complain about, but I think I even prefer it from the bottom as Yujin/Takara definitely excels in representing arthropod legs and their articulation to the body [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
As a conclusion, I recommend that Takara set to everyone who is willing to start a crustacean collection, these are the best crabs on the market, without any doubt possible. All figures it includes are masterpieces, and I would dare to say it plays in the same league as the Colorata fossil fish set. This is thus certainly one of the best investments I have made since I've a foot in the Japanese game. That set is rare and expensive and I would have never imagined to get it at such a decent (albeit still high) price before learning about and visiting that "good address" I won't reveal to prevent competition Since I was convinced about the quality of Yujin crabs and was not ready to make compromises based on price, I already saw myself ruining my wallet as a good sucker by buying them at 30-40€ each, one after the other and it would take me ages to gather the family. But with that whole set at once, I have built the core of my crustacean collection in only one purchase and now only need to enrich it with newcomers, which is always less discouraging than starting from scratches.
More crabs will join the team as collecting crustaceans is actually quite addictive. Roger said that owl species were like different characters of a cartoon but this is exactly the same with crabs, they are so diverse in their physical appearance and so funny-looking that they look like a band of friends when displayed together. Two newcomers are already here while I'm writting these words. I will present them on the general addition thread as soon as I have time to photograph and review them (I want this topic to remain dedicated to Yujin/Takara only). From this brand, the mantis shrimp is on my priority list. Its ability to break its preys' shell and knock them out with the only shock wave it generates by clapping its claws makes it a too formidable predator to be ignored despite obvious oversizing.
Finally, even if I already have a "king" crab, this topic still miss a worthy ruler for my seafood empire. A masterpiece able to eclipse all those jewels and make them look like ridiculous toys in comparison. The emperor of crabs !
Well, I don't miss it anymore actually, it is just still waiting in Japan. And although I made a very good deal with the Takara set, I was not as reasonable with this one Indeed, it will be, up to date, the figure in my collection I paid the highest price for (but I spent even more on some video game figures). But, well, you know, gotta catch 'em all eh ! [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Talking about that, did you know these were not my first Takara crabs ? [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Country/State : Portugal Age : 46 Joined : 2010-08-20 Posts : 29096
Subject: Re: Platter of seafood ! (NBR n°5 : Yujin/Takara) Fri Jun 11, 2021 1:23 am
What a glorious adventure in the world of seafood. Most of these models you present in a brilliant way, are surely superb figures. This kind of creatures, not all, are relatively common in my homeland. For example, fiddler crabs were a common and relaxing sight for me as a kid. Maybe the crustacean I liked most because they look like magic creatures. They are bizarre and they can desapear all almost at the same time. I think the species I used to watch was the (Afruca tangeri) but I haven't investigated it enough to see which species ocur there. I really enjoy these models but they're not for me, not only because of the price, I am all night in troubles to get the siphon of my sink correctly asembled so I don't dare to try it with such fragile models. It is already exciting for me to see how wonderful they are in topics like these.
Country/State : USA Age : 25 Joined : 2012-06-16 Posts : 7970
Subject: Re: Platter of seafood ! (NBR n°5 : Yujin/Takara) Fri Jun 11, 2021 4:08 am
What beautiful animals you have selected here. Big big congrats!
_________________ -"I loathe people who keep dogs. They are cowards who haven’t got the guts to bite people themselves."-August Strindberg (However, anyone who knows me knows I love dogs [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.] ) -“We can try to kill all that is native, string it up by its hind legs for all to see, but spirit howls and wildness endures.”-Anonymous
Country/State : Germany Age : 45 Joined : 2010-12-30 Posts : 37889
Subject: Re: Platter of seafood ! (NBR n°5 : Yujin/Takara) Fri Jun 11, 2021 8:26 am
Roger, your story confirms how exotic Southern Europe seems to me : I didn't think there were fiddler crabs in the old continent, I imagined them as necessarily tropical !
Yes, and I am not aware of it because everything we find common in our childhood, does not look exotic at all. I confirmed, it is really the West African fiddler crab the only fiddler crab species that ocur there and I even found that a sculptor made a monument to it 10 km away from where I was born. Surely an interesting subject for a roundabout. OK, not as accurate as Japanese figures and surely too big for your collection.
Country/State : England Age : 38 Joined : 2021-04-05 Posts : 439
Subject: Re: Platter of seafood ! (NBR n°5 : Yujin/Takara) Fri Jun 11, 2021 3:53 pm
They are absolutely lovely! I think, like reptiles, arthropods really suit being made in plastic as the texture looks so perfectly realistic on them - with fur or feathers we have to just accept the best job the sculptor and painter can do in model form, but these look so lifelike they could be mistaken for the real thing with a bit of sneaky photography.
I think the species I used to watch was the (Afruca tangeri) but I haven't investigated it enough to see which species ocur there.
Yes, Uca tangeri is the only species of fiddler crab in Iberian peninsula and I think in the whole Europe and Mediterranean too. It was one of the most exciting species found during my trip to Sevilla last year.
Country/State : FRANCE Saint-Louis Age : 59 Joined : 2010-07-17 Posts : 5344
Subject: Re: Platter of seafood ! (NBR n°5 : Yujin/Takara) Tue Jun 22, 2021 8:42 pm
Country/State : Greece Age : 50 Joined : 2019-02-19 Posts : 752
Subject: Re: Platter of seafood ! (NBR n°5 : Yujin/Takara) Tue Jun 22, 2021 8:51 pm
I don't know how, but I just saw this topic... I do not collect these creatures, but it's a very educating and colorful post. I need to read all this info again. The spider crab is tempting, but not with these prices...
Subject: Re: Platter of seafood ! (NBR n°5 : Yujin/Takara)