Recently I discussed the new Gulf Coast Collection from the Toy Fish Factory released. Now I’m taking the opportunity to discuss the other new set, the Northern Angler Collection.
The good news is that you can click that link and get all of the background you need on Toy Fish Factory. The Gulf Coast Collection was interesting because it was 5 completely new models–and most were new as figures completely. This series, on the other hand, bears some history as all figures were also released by Replica Toy Fish (RTF). But, like the other sets, the paint jobs have been enhanced and the fish come in a plastic tackle box.
As I mentioned, each of these fish have been made before, by the RTF, and in many cases by other companies too. It’s probably to do with the familiarity of these species in holarctic areas–either naturally or as introduced species.
As I mentioned before with the Gulf Coast Collection, when discussing the the individual fish, I am just doing one image of each. As a standard, TFF figures are straight and flat–no poses, no stands, no curves or twists or bends. They’re kind of like 3D field guide–the fish are set up as idealized examples, but still very close to life appearance. So both sides are pretty uniform, although the paint can vary a bit from side to side. All of the figures are about the same length, roughly 7.5-6.5 cm long each, but of course the scale varies widely depending on the species. I’m also going to leave out the uniqueness part. They have all been done at least once! Also, it’s a given that I will be displaying them…I’ll be judging whether most people might.
To the FISH! (in order of appearance on the box art)
1. Walleye Sander vitreus (Mitchill, 1818)
- Length: 7.2 cm
- Scale: about 1:7
- Comments: It captures the overall appearance of a real walleye, although ones I’ve seen have had slightly flatter heads. The colour is a little brighter as well, and should probably have more dark markings along the flanks.
- Display worthy? I would say yes. As a species, they aren’t common figures, and it is quite nice. Plus, they are popular with many anglers and are familiar to many people.
2. Smallmouth bass Micropterus dolomieu Lacépède, 1802
- Length: 6.8 cm
- Scale: 1:10
- Comments: Bass are pretty easy to identify, and this one is recognizable as a smallmouth–the markings on the sides can be highly variable; in a way this one is almost simple (some of them are really, really mottled). But it’s a cool one.
- Display worthy? I will say yes, with a caveat–it’s a really nice figure, and differentiates well from the largemouth from the same company. But…there is a really nice one from Kaiyodo–it’s part of an invasive species set, as they were released in Japan and good luck getting rid of them! And I’ll be honest…it’s Kaiyodo. If you know Kaiyodo, you know it’s better. But you can’t play with it!
3. Yellow Perch Perca flavescens Mitchill, 1814
- Length: 7 cm
- Scale: 1:2.5
- Comments: The (literally) typical perciform fish, the Perch! It…looks like a perch. The colour is a little bright, but the pattern looks right, and the bars are a good match.
- Display worthy? I like this one–it has a nice bright colour; the original RTF is more yellowish so they could display together. Maybe one is the European variant/subspecies/species? Like the Smallmouth, there are other perch figures out there but honestly not many, and most aren’t to the same standard (with a notable exception from Safari that also just came out but I don’t have yet!). So I would say it should be on the shelf!
4. Muskellunge (=Muskie) Esox masquinongy Mitchill 1824
- Length: 7.5cm
- Scale: 1:12.5
- Comments: This is a good, well-painted figure. Trying to capture the camouflage patterns of fish like this is hard, but TFF did a great job of doing it. And, when comparing with the Northern Pike, it is possible to see the minor differences in body (muskies are thicker) and finnage (tail is less forked, dorsal sis more squared). The extra paint highlights are a nice touch too.
- Display worthy? I would say so. There is precisely one other muskie figure, and it was a similar-sized one from RTF. The pain was less complex, and the finnage more angular; still nice though. But if you have to choose, put this one on the shelf.
5. Northern Pike Esox lucius Linnaeus, 1758
- Length: 7.6 cm
- Scale: 1:20
- Comments: The one that they went all-out for! The body seems a little subdued to me, but fish vary, so why not. But the patterns in the body and finnage, and the care taken to get that dashes-and-dots look along the flanks is impressive. And, again, it stands out as a truly distinct fish from the Muskie
- Display worthy? This is the one fish that has been made several times; must be something to do with being a very familiar, scary fish from lakes, ponds and streams throughout the northern hemisphere. But surprisingly not as many as one might expect. I would definitely say this one should go on a shelf. Like the Muskie, a whole lot more went into the colour scheme and sculpt of this one compared to the RTF.
Final thoughts: Get the set!? As I said in the last post, I can help with that but I will always encourage freshwater fish (and freshwater life in general) toys. There’s a lot of species in this underrepresented series of habitats, and I would like to see more! The species are not as ‘exotic’ as the Gulf Coast or the average coral reef series, but at the same time, there’s nothing wrong with representing the more familiar locals too!