Today we are looking at the Little Barrier giant weta (Deinacrida heteracantha) by Bandai Spirits (a sister company to Bandai) for their 2020 series, Life With Insect. The Life With Insect series was a special release only sold at a grocery store chain in Japan. The figures started to sell out quickly and now permeate online markets, such as eBay, fetching exhorbitant prices! My source secured my figures early so I got them fairly cheap, but on eBay this weta is currently (at the time of this writing) ranging from $108.00 USD to $140.00 USD (mine was less than $60 USD). The series includes eight figures, all in the 1:1 range. There are five large insects, the Goliath beetle (Goliathus goliatus), the Hercules beetle (Dynastes hercules) in two color morphs, a stag beetle (Prosopocoilus giraffa), and the weta we are looking at today. There was also a set of three ‘Desktop Models’ representing the immature stages of the Asian swallowtail (Papilio xuthus) and Japanese rhinoceros beetle (Allomyrina dichotoma), and the nymphal exuvia of the large brown cicada (Graptopsaltria nigrofuscata). I bought all of them except the blue variant of the D. hercules model, which is about twice the cost of its yellow counterpart!
As its name suggests, the Little Barrier giant weta is endemic to the Little Barrier Island of New Zealand, where it was under constant threats by habitat destruction and predation by introduced predators, such as rats and cats. Luckily, the rats and cats were eradicated from the island in the 1980s and 2004, respectively. Islands typically have fragile ecosystems and introduction, intentional or not, of non-native species usually results in disaster for the local fauna.
The average body length of this species is 7.5 cm; this figure is 10.0 long, excluding appendages, making it 1:1 for an exceptionally large female specimen (and the presence of an ovipositor tells us it is indeed a female). Wetas are among the heaviest of insects; D. heteracantha on average weighs 9.0-30.0 grams, but can weigh up to 70 grams. The detail on the figure is, as to be expected, exquisite. I could go into detail about the texture or paint, but I can more easily sum it up as: extremely lifelike. For a figure such as this, the pics do more justice than my description. The figure also comes with a clear acrylic support that fits snugly under the body. This is probably to keep it securely propped up in case the legs give way over time. There is minimal assembly, as the antennae need to be attached (also, the antennae are very simple, with no additional paint over the base color of the plastic).
Now, pics of the critter itself:
If you want this figure, act fast. Not sure how long they will be sold in grocery stores in Japan, and the online costs are only going to go up. Wets are rare in toy form. There are two other figures of Deinacrida, by Science & Nature and Stewart Sales Services, plus a tree weta (Hemideina crassidens) by Cadbury for the original Australian Yowies.