Review and images by JimoAi; edited by bmathison1972
The Batoidea are a diverse group of fish classified within the class Chondricthyes, like their shark cousins, although nowhere near as popular, which is a shame as there are many charismatic species of rays including the butterfly ray, banjo ray, giant guitarfish, and the torpedo rays/numbfish. Unfortunately, those cool species are also very obscure and it’s only once in a blue moon that a ray that isn’t a manta ray gets made into figure form. Today, we will be looking at one of such instance: a trapezoid torpedo (Tetronarce tokionis). These rays are characterized by their flat pectoral fins and head resembling a typical stingray, while the tail, which may contain one or 2 dorsal fins and a caudal fin at the end, resembles a typical fish or a shark. These rays are able to generate electricity, ranging from 8-220 volts from a pair of kidney-shaped electric organs at the base of their pectoral fins, to stun prey and for self defense, similar to electric eels. The largest member of this genus is the Atlantic torpedo ray, which can get up to 180 cm from snout to tail. Unfortunately, most species are deep water species, like the trapezoid torpedo ray, so there is very little information on them. The trapezoid torpedo ray inhabits shelf edges of up to 1000 m in the Northwest Pacific of Japan and Taiwan. The maximum size is unknown, but males mature at about 68 cm in length, with females very likely getting larger than males, like the vast majority of Chondricthyes. Due to the lack of information, the IUCN has listed this species as Data Deficient.
About the figure: this ray measures 5 cm wide and 8 cm long. As previously stated, the minimum maturity size is 68 cm for males and probably larger for females, and with an unknown maximum size, this puts this figure to at least the 1:8.5 scale. This figure is part of the Animal Kaiser series by Bandai, which is an arcade fighting game featuring animals. I did play quite a lot of it as a kid and it’s like a fever dream. It features some obscure species like the Velez skate, side-striped jackal, Malayan blue coral snake, and this torpedo ray, too. Some of the animals/characters got released as figures, even some obscure ones like the 2 rays I’ve mentioned. They come in blind boxes and comes with a card that is playable in the arcade machines. Most figures are cartoony looking to fit in the style with the game, but this ray is one of the least cartoony; however, my main gripe is that it has binocular vision, similar to humans and Tyrannosaurus rex, while real rays have their eyes facing the side of their heads.
The figure is sculpted in a rather calm pose: the pectoral fins are not undulating, while the tail is turned to the side. The figure is painted in a reddish colour, a rarity among Chondricthyes figures, especially accurately done ones. The real trapezoid torpedo ray has has a reddish brown color, so this works. There are also 3 dark gray spots on the dorsal region of the ray. The number of dorsal fins are also accurate: these rays have 2 dorsal fins, similar to the larger and related Atlantic torpedo.
The underbelly is a white color and due to the age of this figure (released around 2010), so there are some scuffs. This ray is a female due to the absence of claspers on the pelvic fins, but a cloaca is sculpted, something not present on too many ray figures. The mouth and the nostrils look correct, giving the impression of a face and there is the correct number of gill slits: five pairs. The caudal fin looks about right judging from the limited number of pictures there are of this fish.
This figure is impossible to find. No, impossible is an understatement. It took me 5 years to find mine and when I finally located it, I bought 2 of them, which one will be customized to have more accurate eyes. This figure does not usually pop up on online stores, but small independent figure or card stores in Japan may have a few, but I’m not too optimistic for anyone outside Japan to search for such stores due to the current crisis, so it looks like this figure will be a forgotten relic of the past. However, other companies have made torpedo rays. DeAgostini may have some rubber torpedo rays and Happy Kin did produce a marbled torpedo ray. This is one species I hope Safari Ltd., CollectA, or Papo will produce in the near future. No other animal on this planet resembles this half-ray/half-shark/bony fish. Well, maybe the guitarfish does…