Today, another post, another Bandai Animal Kaiser figure. After talking about the Velez Ray I realized that there were several from the Animal Kaiser series that would be worth looking at. So I went over the ones I have to see what would be interesting. This one really stood out, so I decided to talk about it. It’s a blue Malayan coral snake Calliophis bivirgatus (F. Boie, 1827), a species that I am pretty sure has not been done by any other company before.
The blue Malayan coral snake is part of the snake family Elapidae, a family of tropical and subtropical venomous snakes found on many continents as well as in marine environments. The blue Malayan coral snake (okay, that name is ridiculously long…) is a medium-sized species found in many parts of the SE Asian peninsula, living semi-fossorially in leaf litter of forests where they prey on snakes. They reach about 1.8 metres in length, and are notable for their red heads, bellies and tails; and a blue back (that should have a a dark stripe down the back…a big miss on the figure). Like all elapids they are venomous, although unlike many elapids there is no neurotoxin, but a powerful cytotoxin–but they have been responsible for humans deaths. They are also notable for having extraordinarily long venom glands (25% of their body length!)
The Bandai figure we have here is from their Bigger Beast Book 1 set…I really don’t know the history or etymology of their various sets. I’m not sure if there are any particular themes in the sets. I don’t know what Bigger Beasts refers to…it’s not like blue Malayan blue coral snakes are large (although the same series contains a sperm whale which would qualify as a bigger beast…). As with that Velez skate, it’s an unusual species, but it is literally identified to species on their cards–which makes it easy to figure out!
The figure itself is, sort of surprisingly, well done, given that, again, these are strange tie-in figures for a strange game or show or something (again, still not clear to me). They have done a good job capturing the essence of this unusual snake species. The belly, head and tail are appropriately red–bright red, which is of course aposematic; they also raise that bright red tail when directly threatened by potential predators. A major miss, of course, is that the back should be black to very dark blue (the same colour as the markings on the top of the head), with the bright blue acting as a thinner band down each side. And, the eye should be black, not weirdly bright white. The figure, measured along all of the curves, is somewhere around 22-25 cm long, compressed into a much more compact figure. This gives a scale of about 1:7.
So what do we make of this figure? It’s heavily stylized, and has a big miss on the dorsal colouring. But like that Velez skate, despite some odd choices, it’s otherwise very inspired. No one else makes a figure of this genus of snake, usually favouring other elapids like cobras, kraits, sea snakes, American coral snakes…okay, a lot of other better known snakes. In a way, it’s surprising given their bright natural colours, they really stand out. So even though this one is a bit exaggerated, it’s still kind of fun to have it. I would definitely suggest that someone interested in a collection of herptiles try to find one–in Japan of course, because that’s where they were sold. And, to wrap up–I have been in a weird herptiles place with my recent blog posts; turns out I was actually planning on this blue Malaysian coral snake but came across that set and got distracted. We’ll see what I come up with next.