Sometimes I wonder how Kaiyodo do it! How can it be possible to squeeze so much detail into such minuscule figures, what sorcery is at play in the ChocoQ lines? The mystery Kaiyodo sculptors are clearly masters in their field, and the humpback whale figure (Megaptera novaeangliae), part of the ChocoQ Animatales series (series 6), is one such example of that mastery.
First, let’s put emphasis on the scale here. The figure is about 6cm long, which makes the tail fluke and flippers barely one millimetre thick. Be careful you don’t lose this toy down the back of the sofa.
The humpback whale is my favourite cetacean. It is a baleen whale with a global distribution from pole to pole, and migrates hundreds of miles in its search for krill.
Its distinctive long flippers or pectoral fins – the longest fins relative to its body size of all the whales – are one of several features that make it instantly recognisable. In the Kaiyodo figure, these fins arch downwards, as if at the beginning of an upstroke, bending under the water pressure. These fins also support the toy on a flat surface, as the figure has no stand or base.
The leading edge of the flippers are notched with irregular knobs, again, reflecting the condition in living adult humpback whales. Did you hear the one about a whale at a fist fight? Well, humpback whales have been observed using these knobs like ‘knuckledusters’ to defend themselves against killer whales.
The Kaiyodo Animatales are originally and primarily sold in ‘Gashapon’ vending machines in Japan, where they come inside a capsule in several small pieces. These need to be slotted together, which means there are visible seams where the elements meet. These look obvious in the close-up photos, but are more subtle in life, and don’t detract too much from the finished model.
Indeed, the pieces slot together perfectly and the final figure feels sturdy. Given the tiny scale, this is some precision engineering on behalf of Kaiyodo. The plastic is rather brittle, and the pieces are tiny, so certainly not suitable for children to play with.
There are plenty more details on the head, including bumps and calluses on the jaws.
The paintwork is impressive and finely detailed. It appears to be sprayed on, another testament to the attention to detail and craftsmanship by Kaiyodo. The deep blue-black and contrasting white is faithful to the living animal, and this toy has an irregular and asymmetrical pattern that gives it character.
The figure is positioned in a naturalistic pose, with the front half stretching upwards, and the tail bending downwards and slightly sideways. The pose shows off the ‘hump’ (a low dorsal fin).
This is an elegant, fluid sculpt, of an equally elegant animal – elegant for a 30 ton mammal, that is. Grooves run along the ventral surface of the body, and the ventral surface also bears a genital slit.
The underside of the tail is marked and informs us that this is figure number 163. Yes, there are hundreds of Kaiyodo Chocco egg animal figures, so we’ll be reviewing them on the Animal Toy Blog well into the future! Honestly, though, the classification gets rather confusing, as Kaiyodo teamed up with different companies at different times (Furuta, Takara, UHA, and more) to distribute their Choco Egg and related lines. Hence the garbled title for this review.
For example, Series 1-5 of the ‘Choco Egg’ line were distributed by Furuta, while series 6-11 were distributed by Takara under the name ‘ChocoQ Animatales’ (but not, ‘Choco Egg’!). So, as I understand it, the ChocoQ Animatales line technically starts, counterintuitively, at series 6. Even more confusingly, some of those companies created their own equivalent Choco Egg lines independently of Kaiyodo. Furuta, for example, also produced a series 6 and 7 of the Choco Egg line, separate from Kaiyodo! The best resources I’ve found to help you get your head around this eggy mess is Kinder Surprise: The Next Generation, and FoodToy:Yowei/Chocoegg/Capsule Toy:Animal/Real Figure Box [honestly, that’s what the site’s page title is! – it must be a translation thing!], both invaluable resources, if a bit difficult to navigate. By the way, if I’ve misunderstood any of the above, and I may well have done so, please correct me!
So, that’s my glowing review of a remarkable miniature. It is currently available from https://www.ebay.com for less that $5, and I highly recommend it for adult collectors.