And when I think cryptozoology, I remember my beloved Secret Saturdays, cut down before it's time. But this article won't be about the show ( because that is an article unto itself,) but rather about 'dem toys. The Cryptid Collection, to be exact.
Are you prepared to roam with beasts?
The fine gentlemen above, from left to right, are the Amarok Biloko and Bishopville Lizard Man. See, there are no fuax monsters in this line, every beastie is based on real world myths and urban legends. Even if the show wasn't fantastic, I'd still have bought these toys. It's like a toyline devoted to all my favorite monsters!
Now, I'm not one to name favorites, but these three are my favorite. I just love the classic two-legged humanoid cryptids, they feel the most strange and intriguing. Especially southern swamp monsters, which Mr. lizard man just happens to be. He's also the only figure from my favorite episode of the series, Ghost in the Machine, which had every freakin' swamp monster ever in it. Any friend of the Fouke monster is a friend of mine.
I also happen to adore both werewolves and Inuit art and culture. Oh, hello there Mr. Amarok. And the Biloko is just that special mix of one part ape, one part fish, and a healthy dose of tribal superstition.
And here we have the quadrupeds, a Tapire-iauara, Rakshasa, and Komodo, who's one of two actual characters from the show. Imagine Scooby-doo, if he wasn't completely inept. Okay, Komodo dragons aren't cryptids now, but they were not too long ago and it was a pretty big deal at the time. He gets a legacy pass.
You know how I said those guys were my favorites? I lied, it's the rakshasa. Just look at all that Alex Toth style goodness! I mean sure, it's not at all accurate (even to the show), but it looks like a Hindu tiger monster. And who can deny those enormous, adorable man-eating eyes? It would have been cool to get the bigger, blood-thirstier version seen in the series, but I wouldn't trade this little guy for the world.
The Tapire is my absolute favorite type of cryptid: the kind scribbled down in the notes of explorers seeing new lands for the first time. It's pretty much a known fact that these guys were actually capybaras seen by the first Europeans down the Amazon, but he'll always exist, in my heart. I couldn't be happier that got not one but two toys of this obscure beasty.
And here we come to the relic pterosaur aviary. We've got a Duah, Piasa Bird, and 'Zon. 'Zon would be the other main character, and it's never clarified what species she's supposed to be, but there are so many pterosaur cryptids in South America you can just pick your favorite.
The Piasa bird is... an odd choice. Not a bad figure by any means, but far from a dragon with a lions face, you know what I'm sayin'? I usually pretend he's just another relic flying beastie.
And of course, the Duah (otherwise known as Ropen) is the classic dino-cryptid. Too bad he couldn't have a glowing belly, but at least he's got plenty of graves to rob this time of year!
Awww poor Alkali Lake Monster. The lone aquatic monster in the set. He doesn't even get a fancy nature shot like the others. Take comfort in knowing that if these figures were in scale, you'd be the biggest. At least he gets a nifty swimming pose stand!
And then there's Miss Naga here, who's exploits are extremely spoiler laden. Suffice to say, she's an aquatic snake lady who steals children, like any good Naga should be.
I'd love to say this is the entire set, but I would be lying to myself. Naye, there are other critters that I shall most likely never get my greedy claws on.
Foremost is the dread Popobawa, who was yanked off the shelves shortly after the first wave was released. See, it's all fine and dandy to release toys of monsters nobody ( normal) believes in. But to residents of parts of Africa, the Popobawa is very real and very terrifying. It's funny, cases of Popobawa attacks seem to go up right around election time, when candidates make big claims of driving off the one-eyed monster. Huh, what a coincidence. Political propaganda aside, Mattel got cold feet and sent the poor misunderstood creature back from whence he came.
Then there are the two whole waves that were only released in the UK. Including the Owlman, Atmospheric Jellyfish, and Missouri Pigman. Oh, Mattel, you get me every time.
But, even when so many creatures are out of my grasp, there are still a few I have hopes of obtaining. There is a four pack exclusive to toys r us that includes an alternate Tapire and an alpha Amarok that I hope to some day add to my Bestiary of the bizaare!
Over all this is a great line of toys, and I've loved every one I've gotten. Who can argue with a set of tiny myths and legends on your desktop? It's just disappointing that so many great cryptids will never see plastic. The Devil Ape, Bunyips, Trunko, Oh what could have been.
Special thanks to Agent Spectre of "Every boys action cartoon's fansite" fame. She helped me obtain most of these critters when I showed up late to the cryptid ball, and was a pleasure to deal with. She also sent me these nifty Saturdays buttons she made:
I never say no to nice swag.