Ever since CollectA started releasing collections of mini dinosaurs based on their larger and standard-size dinosaurs, I knew that if they ever released a set of mini arthropods, it would represent miniature versions of their Insects and Spiders Collection. I was correct. I was not expecting it 2020, but at least I had figured out their plan. Going into 2020, their Insects and Spiders collection had only 11 figures, so they had to release two more in 2020 (centipede and black widow) to get a set of 12 (of the 13 figures currently in that collection, only the monarch butterfly is not represented in this set of miniatures). They technically have a 14th arthropod, a king crab, but that figure is in their Sealife line.
I have always loved CollectA’s arthropods. They may not represent the most interesting or unusual species, but I like the firm plastic, detailed textures, and non-gloss paint jobs. The figures we are looking at today are all small, comparable to tube/TOOB-style figures by Safari Ltd. and K&M International. However, unlike previous sets by Safari Ltd. and K&M International that reused stock molds seen in generic, bin-style, and dollar store sets, this CollectA collection offers original sculpts (albeit based on their larger counterparts)! In general, they are also softer than their standard-sized counterparts. Despite their small size, they all have the common name, ‘CollectA’, the copyright year (2019), ‘China’, and the CE logo somewhere on their bodies, usually the underside. Promotional photos for this set clearly used scaled down pics of the standard-sized figures, a revealed by less paint detail seen in some of the actual Mini figures!
This review will feature 12 images (after the group shot), each featuring the mini arthropod and its standard-sized counterpart. This review today does not preclude reviews of any of the larger figures individually (in fact, one has already been reviewed on the blog), but I wanted to show comparisons of the two sizes.
black widow spider, Latrodectus mactans
Simply marketed as a ‘black widow’ it is probably safe to assume it represents the southern black widow, L. mactans, common in the eastern and southern United States. Having purchased this box set alongside its 2020 standard-sized counterpart, I have to compare them simultaneously. The Mini figure lacks the red hourglass present on the underside of the larger version, instead having a red smudge where the hourglass should be (probably because the ‘CE’ logo takes up most of the underside of the abdomen).
Mexican red-knee tarantula, Brachypelma smithi
There is confusion to the identity of spiders referred to as Mexican red-knees, since the description of a cryptic sibling species, B. hamorii by Cleton and Verdez in 1997. The two species are indistinguishable morpholoically and can only be separated by DNA barcoding and strict geographic distribution. In the absence of a figure being specifically ascribed to a given species, I am referring to all figures as the classic B. smithi. The mini figure is probably the most simplified in the set. As you can see in the pic, it lacks the alternate red and dark banding on the legs that is so characteristic of this species. If not for the larger version as a reference, I would never speculate this was a Mexican red-knee! Otherwise the pose is nearly the same as its larger counterpart. Like nearly all spider figures, both the standard and Mini versions have an incorrect eye number and arrangement…
golden-ringed dragonfly, Cordulegaster boltonii
The figure is simply marketed as ‘dragonfly’, but the accompanying paper is marked ‘golden-ringed dragonfly’. CollectA’s tendancy of producing European species make C. boltoni the likely choice (certainly a member of Cordulegastridae). This is one of the stiffer Mini figures. Not a bad counterpart to its larger cousin, although the banding on the abdomen looks a little washed out.
praying mantis, Mantis religiosa
There is not much doubt about the identity of this one, and a green mantid is a standard for most insect sets. This Mini version is actually a pretty counterpart to its larger version. There is not a lot to say about this one, other than it is a pretty good likeness given its small size. Much better than most tube/TOOB/bin style versions of mantids.
bumble bee, Bombus sp.
The figure is too generic to go beyond a genus-level identification. Bees in most insect set are generic, or probably geared more towards honey bees. The Mini version is a nice likeness of its larger counterpart, although the stinger is a bit exaggerated. The wing venation is nicely sculpted; not completely accurate, but one would not expect that level of accuracy in a figure of this size.
European stag beetle, Lucanus cervus
We have already visited the standard-sized version of this figure on the Blog. This familiar European species does not get quite the attention in toy form as its Asian cousin, L. maculifemoratus. Still, an impressive creature. This is one of the figures more true to its larger counterpart, even down to the raised, defensive posture. The head sculpt is pretty nice for a figure of this size.
yellow fattail scorpion, Androctonus australis
This figure is marketed simply as ‘scorpion’ but the accompanying paper indicates it represents A. australis. It is also popular in the pet trade. The species is distributed in North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. The Mini figure is pretty well sculpted, especially with the detail given to the tail texture. This is much better than most scorpions in tube/TOOB/bin-style sets.
small tortoiseshell butterfly, Aglais urticae
When CollectA released their standard-sized version of this common Eurasian species, I was really excited, as it is rare when major companies release a butterfly that is not a monarch, morpho, or swallowtail. Unfortunately, CollectA had an anatomical error in their original standard-sized figure: six walking legs! Members of the family Nymphalidae have the front pair of legs reduced into brush-like sensory organs (hence the common name, brush-footed butterflies) and only have four legs for perching (CollectA did not repeat this mistake when they released their monarch a couple years later). Unfortunately, the Mini figure has the same anatomical mistake. The underside of the wings is monochromatic black but the upper-side of the wings is pretty good, given its size.
seven-spotted lady beetle, Coccinella septempunctata
This common and familiar species is the go-to for ladybug figures. It is probably the most commonly-produced beetle species not in the families Lucanidae or Scarabaeidae! The Mini figure is pretty nice, even down to the partially opened elytra as seen in the larger version.
grasshopper, gen. sp.
When I bought my standard-sized figure of CollectA’s grasshopper, it was marketed as a North American species, the differential grasshopper (Melanoplus differentialis). While I am sure that was just the online seller’s identification for marketing purposes, the original figure is a pretty good likeness for a member of the genus Melanoplus. Still, like with so many insect sets, it is probably just a generic green grasshopper (GGG™). The Mini version is fairly well sculpted given its small size. Like all figures in the set, it maintains the same pose as its larger counterpart.
Japanese rhinoceros beetle, Allomyrina dichotoma
Of course. This species is so commonly made (I probably have close to 50 variations in my collection), that it would be the species of scarab even a non-Japanese company like CollectA would go for. The Mini version is not bad. Of course, its detail does not compare to small figures released by many Japanese companies. Still, it is not bad given its small size. Given how common this figure is in figure/toy form, I am surprised we have not had it on the blog yet (even by me!).
centipede, Scolopendra sp.
This figure is simply marketed as ‘centipede’ but is clearly meant to represent one of the giant centipedes in the genus Scolopendra. This is a very large genus distributed over most of the tropics and subtropics, so a species-level identification is probably not possible. Growing up in the Sonoran Desert of south-central Arizona, we had a few species in my area, including the formidable S. heros! Like the black widow, this is a 2020 release so I am seeing both the standard-size and mini figures for the first time. Both the large and Mini versions are pretty nicely-detailed. The mouthparts on the Mini version are pretty well sculpted given its small size.
This set offers a great opportunity for someone to get CollectA-quality insects that take up much less space than standard-sized figures. This can be especially helpful for collectors that do not want to devote a lot of space to creepy crawlies as I do :-). They also offer a great educational opportunity for curious children! Because of the small size and slightly softer form, however, some of them could be a choking hazard for younger children.