Sharks (Play Visions)

In honor of Shark Week, I have decided to post a brief review of the Sharks collection by Play Visions, originally released in 1996. I collect sharks because they are animals, but I must admit it is a group, at least among common and familiar animals, that I have little experience and knowledge with. Most of you reading this probably know more about sharks than I do! As such, I will not be going into lengthy descriptions on the biology and ecology of the species, but rather an annotated review of the figures themselves. It is important to remember that these are smaller figures that came out in the 1990s, and are not necessarily up to the standards we are accustomed to today. I also want to make a comment upfront about the scale calculations. Because sharks are prone to sensationalism, sizes can sometimes be exaggerated to be biased to the extreme maximum sizes. For consistency, the scales below are based on measurements on FishBase.

Great White Shark, Carcharodon carcharias
Body length: 8.0 cm
Scale: 1:56.3-1:62.5
Notes: This is actually one of the nicer figures in the set. The proportions of the body are good, the location and proportions of the fins are good, there are the correct number of gills (5), and the fine teeth and nostrils are sculpted. The anterior portion of the caudal fin is missing the notch, but a minor oversight given the size of the figure. There is a very slight undulation in the body, when viewed from above or below. The demarcation of the grey dorsum and white venter is also pretty good.

Whale Shark, Rhincodon typus
Body length 8.2 cm
Scale: 1:53.7-1:68.3
Notes: This is another nice one. All the fins are present, but the pectoral fins are probably a little too short and wide. The lateral ridging is present and the narrow mouth is sculpted. The white spots are randomly painted on, but this is probably due to the size of the figure and the era in which it was made.

Tiger Shark, Galeocerdo cuvier
Body length: 8.0 cm
Scale: 1:26.25-1:43.75
Notes: This one appears a bit off to me. The sculpting of the head and mouth is nice, but the body shape seems wrong and the paint job is pretty bad. It is as if someone said, ‘hey it’s got tiger in its name, so let’s just paint some uniform dark stripes down its whole body.’ Also, there are only four gill slits sculpted on each side (should be five).

Hammerhead Shark, Sphyrna sp.
Body length: 8.0 cm
Scale: 1:17.5-1:34.1 (for a scalloped hammerhead, see below)
Notes: This figure is simply marked ‘Hammerhead Shark’, but based on the undulations on the anterior end of the head, it best fits the scalloped hammerhead, S. lewini (although the undulations themselves are not exactly right). Given Play Vision’s tendency to make unusual taxa, one cannot assume it is the great hammerhead. The mouth is sculpted well, and the number of gill slits is correct, but the shape of the two dorsal fins is not quite right, probably just due to the small size of the figure.

Thresher Shark, Alopias sp.
Body length: 8.0 cm
Scale: N/A (species dependent, read below)
Notes: Overall, this might be the worst of the lot. It basically looks like someone took a great white shark and prolonged the upper portion of the caudal fin. The shape of the head and mouth and size and location of eyes are all wrong, and the pectoral fins are too short. If one wanted to put a species name on this, the color and notch at the end of the caudal fin probably support the bigeye thresher, A. superciliosis (which would put the scale at 1:19.25-1:42.6).

Goblin Shark, Mitsukurina owstoni
Body length: 8.0 cm
Scale: 1:33-1:40.25
Notes: Not bad for such an usual species. The two dorsal fins are probably a bit big and the wrong shape, and the nostrils are sculpted, but in the wrong place, being on top of the ‘beak-like’ part of the mouth, rather than at the base of the ventral side of the rostrum. The ghostly white paint job with a sliver of pink along the lower lateral sides in an interesting choice.

Zebra Bullhead Shark, Heterodontus zebra
Body length: 7.5 cm
Scale: 1:11.2-1:16.7
Notes: This is one of three figures I bought this set for, the others being the goblin shark (above, which has since been replaced with the Colorata figure) and the angel shark (next). I was initially confused by the length of the front dorsal fin; it looks so much larger than most online images of this species. However, it appears that the length of the dorsal fin is variable across the species, and some specimens have taller fins while others have shorter. The figure also appears to be missing the dorsal fin spine, which appears prominent in this species.

Angel Shark, Squatina squatina
Body length: 7.5 cm
Scale: 1:13.6-1:22.5
Notes: I believe Play Visions produced both spotted and unspotted variations of this figure. On mine shown here, the spotting seems to be rather sloppily applied. Other than that, it’s a pretty nice figure. The gill slits are sculpted on the ventral side. The two dorsal fins appear a bit too close together.

Well, there you have it, a rather quick-and-dirty overview of the Play Visions Sharks collection. With the exception of probably the thresher shark, not a bad lineup, especially given their size and the era in which they were made. Hope you enjoyed it; remember, this group is not my strong point. I will be back to arthropods soon enough :-).

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Comments 1

  • The horn, goblin, and angel shark are the definite highlights here. I wish Safari would tackle all three. I feel like a goblin shark is especially overdue from them.

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