A new series of imitation steamed buns molded in the form of creepy Shoebill birds will grace your mantelpiece, encourage you to diet, haunt your dreams.
We don't know why Japanese figurine manufacturer Qualia Inc decided to mold glowering Shoebill ("Hashibirokou") birds into colored plastic manju (steamed buns), but now that they've done so, we can see... nope, scratch that, these things are as creepy as actual Shoebills, maybe even more so what with the implied bun-steaming and faux edibility. They're the imperfect combination of yikes, yuck and yecch.
The Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex) is a stork-like avian distantly related to pelicans. It's native to the wetlands of East Africa, where it stalks equally creepy critters such as frogs, snakes, and lungfish. Shoebills can fly but they don't do it often, preferring to stamp through swamps, nom-nom-nomming down their slimy prey and glowering at the world behind their ginormous clog-like beaks.
Speaking of which, the Shoebill's trademark bill is about as big as a human foot, and it's tipped with a sharp point because why the heck not? Adult specimens can grow up to five feet tall. Cute and cuddly it ain't... but don't tell the designers at Qualia that. Those guys just love a challenge, and they've accepted it.
Possibly inspired by the captive Shoebills at Tokyo's Ueno Zoo, these weird figurines come in a choice of six different “flavors”: plain, brown sugar, hydrangea blue, cherry blossom pink, Yomogi (mugwort green), and natural. The last is more than a little "super-natural" if you ask us.
The figurines are formed from ATBP-PVC (acetyl tributyl citrate-polyvinyl chloride), a type of polymer material favored by figurine fans as it emits fewer phthalates, boasts better biodegradability, and has fewer biochemical effects. Pity we can't say the same about actual Shoebills.
Health and safety issues aside, these Shoebill figurines are still creepy as all get-out but hey – we promise not to judge you if that's your thing. And if it IS your thing, please don't try to eat them even though you may be sure they very much want to eat YOU or more specifically, your eternal soul. Please visit the Qualia product page for more info and ordering instructions.