Black Widow (Little Wonders by CollectA)

Finishing up the CollectA 2020 Insects and Spiders collection with the black widow, Latrodectus mactans. Technically, this could represent any of a few widows, but L. mactans is the traditional go-to species. The spider is distributed in the southern and southeastern United States, where it is commonly called the eastern black widow or southern black widow.

The figure has an 11.5 by 12.0 cm leg-span. The body length minus the legs is 3.5 cm, making it approximately 2.5:1 – 4.5:1 in scale for a female (which, based on the color, it clearly is). The figure suffers from what so many other insect figures do, a flat body with the legs sprawled out, taking up a lot of surface area but not much physical space.

The color in images looks jet black, but there are subtle brown highlights as well. And of course the hallmark red hourglass on the abdomen is present. A lot of detail was given to such subtle characters as the epigynum (female sexual structure), spinnerets, and chelicerae (fangs), but like so many other spider figures, the eye arrangement is not correct. You hear me mention that a lot on my forum and blog posts, but the size, number, and arrangement of eyes is very important taxonomically, at least at the family level. Few spider figures get it right (the Papo wolf spider is a great example of a figure that does).

The plastic is nice and rigid, as CollectA’s arthropods usually are, and the figure is well-textured. The rigidity of the legs is nice, because it means one can display the figure upright against the back wall of a cabinet and therefore taking up less space.

If the size and space does not bother you, this is a decent figure. For figures of this size, I would suggest either this one or the Hidden Kingdom figure by Safari Ltd. Both have their strengths and both have their weaknesses. I prefer the pose and smooth texture of the Safari figure, but they botch the eyes even more than CollectA, and the legs are much softer. The best figure by a major, non-Japanese company is the Safari Ltd. Smithsonian Collection figure, but it has become very hard to find.

With the Safari Ltd. Hidden Kingdom figure (left)

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