Animal toy reviews and walk-arounds

Recent reviews and walk-arounds


bmathison1972
Today at 02:57:50 AM by bmathison1972
Views: 1 | Comments: 0

Walk-around of the Arizona hairy scorpion, Hadrurus arizonensis Ewing, 1928 as part of the Rampaging Scorpion Diorama by AMT/Ertl in their Gigantics series, originally released in 1996. Aluminum Metal Toys (AMT) was a Michigan-based toy company that specialized in model cars, trucks, and such (and I believe most were plastic, despite the word ‘aluminum’ in their name). In 1978, AMT was purchased by British Lesney (the makers of Matchbox) and then in 1983 by Ertl and renamed AMT/Ertl. It was during that period this figure was made. In 2007, AMT was sold and its models reissued by independent companies until it was taken over by Round 2 LLC in Indiana. Most of the models throughout the years have been automobiles, with some Star Trek and other sci-fi products. There were at least four of these ‘monster’ arthropods released as part of a line called ‘Gigantics’. I recently acquired the mantis, the scorpion, and tarantula, and there is also a wasp I still need to get. I have already reviewed the mantis and tarantula here on the ATF.

Unlike the mantis and tarantula, this model was not marketed after an exact species. The paint scheme they recommend is for ‘common North American scorpions,’ but they also refer the user to the box lid for ‘a more exotic breed’. I have decided to paint mine after H. arizonensis because the morphology (especially with regards to the sternum) best fits members of the family Iuridae (although the tail looks like that of a buthid…). To my knowledge there are no figures specifically marketed as H. arizonensis, although this genus was most-certainly the inspiration for the Hidden Kingdom and Desert TOOB figures by Safari LTD.

As the name of the set and series suggests, these Gigantics figures were intended to appear as giant ‘movie-monster’ type creatures, displayed destroying a city or neighborhood. I, of course, am only interested in the animal itself and will not be assembling or painting its accessories. If you are curious, the people, cars, and much of the building are also gray plastic, but the ground and backdrop are painted cardboard.

Unlike the mantis and tarantula, the scorpion comes in only 19 pieces, but is still the same a pale gray base color. Glue is required to hold most of the pieces together, and like the tarantula comes with an assembly stand to help attach the legs. If you look at the morphology of the tail you will notice it appears to be ‘upside down’. The way the figure assembles, it is impossible to correct since the basal two segments of the tail are permanently attached to the main body. At least I was able to attach the stinger in the correct position (contrary to their recommendations…).

Like the first two figures reviewed, I completely assembled this figure prior to painting. I initially painted everything a brown-yellow (I don’t like the yellow paint I have been using—it’s awfully thick and applies kinds of paste-like…). I painted the medial and lateral eyes and stinger black. I used a gray Pitt pen to add gray bands to the dorsum. Like all figures I paint, the final product was covered with a satin varnish.

Stretched out, the figure would be roughly 17.5 cm, making it slightly larger than 1:1 for a large specimen (natural length up to about 14 cm).

On to the pics…





















and the final product...

Bimmie_James
July 24, 2017, 04:45:23 PM by Bimmie_James
Views: 59 | Comments: 2

     Primeval was a UK series about anomalies, or portals, opening up and allowing various creatures from the past (or future) to enter into modern London (I think mostly London). Anyway in the second episode of the first season an anomaly opened up from the Cambrian period and several types of arthropods made their home in the underground. The one I have here was the star of the episode in my opinion. It's a fairly generic and quite well done Solpugid. To my knowledge, this is the only Solpugid figure out there. Even though it's not modeled after a specific species, it's still fantastic.




bmathison1972
July 23, 2017, 04:20:44 PM by bmathison1972
Views: 52 | Comments: 1

Walk-around of the tarantula, Aphonopelma steindachneri (Ausserer, 1875) as part of the Huge Tarantula Diorama by AMT/Ertl in their Gigantics series, originally released in 1996. Aluminum Metal Toys (AMT) was a Michigan-based toy company that specialized in model cars, trucks, and such (and I believe most were plastic, despite the word ‘aluminum’ in their name). In 1978, AMT was purchased by British Lesney (the makers of Matchbox) and then in 1983 by Ertl and renamed AMT/Ertl. It was during that period this figure was made. In 2007, AMT was sold and its models reissued by independent companies until it was taken over by Round 2 LLC in Indiana. Most of the models throughout the years have been automobiles, with some Star Trek and other sci-fi products. There were at least three of these ‘monster’ arthropods released as part of a line called ‘Gigantics’. I am not sure how many were made, but I have recently acquired the mantis (previously reviewed on the ATF), the scorpion, and tarantula (reviewed here). A quick Google search suggests there may have been a wasp as well.

Like the mantis, there are some taxonomic issues with the figure. The figure was marketed as ‘Eurypelma californicum’, a name that has been considered nomen dubium for decades. In 2012, it was proposed that most specimens assigned to E. californicum probably represent Aphonopelma hentzi. However, the species was originally described from California, and A. hentzi as currently delineated does not occur in California. In 2016, the genus Aphonopelma was revised, and there is no mention of E. californicum or the 2012 note about its possible connection to A. hentzi. Not being personally familiar with the taxonomic status of species prior to the revision, it’s possible that in 2012 specimens from California were being attributed to A. hentzi. Anyway, to make a long story short (I know, too late), I have decided to paint my figure after A. steindachneri, a large black species from southern California (I figure, if this is going to represent a spider destroying a city in California, might as well be Los Angeles…).

As the name of the set and series suggests, these Gigantics figures were intended to appear as giant ‘movie-monster’ type creatures, displayed destroying a city or neighborhood. I, of course, am only interested in the animal itself and will not be assembling or painting its accessories. If you are curious, the people, cars, and much of the building are also gray plastic, but the ground and backdrop are painted cardboard.

Like the mantis, the tarantula figure comes in 23 pieces and is originally a pale gray. Glue is required to hold most of the pieces together. The legs were two pieces each, halved down the length of the legs. When assembled, the tips do not touch, giving the impression of cleft claws. I am not sure if this is intentional or if they just don’t align perfectly along their lengths. The model came with an assembly stand to help attach the legs.

Also like the mantis, I completely assembled this figure prior to painting. I painted everything except the abdomen black, and then the abdomen a very dark gray. I used that same dark gray to ‘dust’ the legs and chelicerae (might not be clearly visible in pics). I am not going to put any contrasting highlights anywhere, keeping the figure relatively dark and uniform (like some specimens of the assigned species). Like all figures I paint, the final product was covered with a satin varnish.

The body of the figure is 105 mm long, not including appendages or mouthparts, and the carapace is 45 mm long, making it slightly larger than 2:1 for an adult female (we can assume from the lack of leg spurs the figure is a female).

On to the pics…



















and the final product:


postsaurischian
July 20, 2017, 02:35:38 PM by postsaurischian
Views: 110 | Comments: 3









                         











                         



                         

                         

bmathison1972
July 18, 2017, 08:33:36 PM by bmathison1972
Views: 100 | Comments: 1

Walk-around of the Chinese mantis, Tenodera sinensis (Saussure, 1871) as part of the Colossal Mantis Diorama by AMT/Ertl in their Gigantics series, originally released in 1996. Aluminum Metal Toys (AMT) was a Michigan-based toy company that specialized in model cars, trucks, and such (and I believe most were plastic, despite the word ‘aluminum’ in their name). In 1978, AMT was purchased by British Lesney (the makers of Matchbox) and then in 1983 by Ertl and renamed AMT/Ertl. It was during that period this figure was made. In 2007, AMT was sold and its models reissued by independent companies until it was taken over by Round 2 LLC in Indiana. Most of the models throughout the years have been automobiles, with some Star Trek and other sci-fi products. There were at least three of these ‘monster’ arthropods released as part of a line called ‘Gigantics’. I am not sure how many were made, but I have recently acquired the mantis (reviewed here), the scorpion, and tarantula. A quick Google search suggests there may have been a wasp as well.

The brief history of the company out of the way, let’s examine the taxonomic issues with this figure. As you can see in an image below, the mantis was marketed as the praying mantis, Stagmomantis carolina. However, technically the term ‘praying mantis’ refers to Mantis religiosa. To complicate things, if you read further in the text, it says the model was based on the Chinese mantis (which refers to Tenodera sinensis). If we examine the morphology of the figure itself, it is clear it was indeed modeled after T. sinensis based on the form of the facial shield and that the wings extend to and beyond the tip of the abdomen. This is actually to my advantage, as figures by Japanese manufacturers are actually T. aridifolia, and as such this is a new species for me (although I was looking forward to a second Stagmomantis…).

As the name of the set and series suggests, these Gigantics figures were intended to appear as giant ‘movie-monster’ type creatures, displayed destroying a city or neighborhood. I, of course, am only interested in the animal itself and will not be assembling or painting its accessories. If you are curious, the people, cars, and much of the building are also gray plastic, but the ground and backdrop are painted cardboard.

The mantis figure comes in 23 pieces and is originally a pale gray. Glue is required to hold most of the pieces together. The sculpting on the figure is exquisite and morphologically it is probably one of the most detailed figures of this genus!

Unlike the recent Heller figures, I completely assembled this figure prior to painting. The paint scheme was inspired by the images on this BugGuide post (http://bugguide.net/node/view/231853/bgimage). I started with a base gray-brown then painted the brown and white and green on the wings, and used a yellow Pitt pen for the eyes. I then added stippling highlights for other parts of the body. I was nervous to try to add ornamentation to the face so it is left relatively plain (except the eyes for which I am very happy with). Like other figures I paint, the final version is covered with a satin varnish.

The final figure is about 140 mm tall by 165 mm long total (including appendages). Stretched out, the body would be about 170 mm, making it about 1.5:1 in scale.

On to the images:





















And the final product:





I hope to start on the tarantula this coming weekend...
bmathison1972
July 16, 2017, 02:50:54 AM by bmathison1972
Views: 93 | Comments: 1

Alrighty...here we go!

Review of the entire set of Fleas, Lice, and Ticks by Play Visions (1996). Many of you know I am a professional parasitologist and one of my specialties are arthropod ectoparasites. So, you can imagine this has been a ‘Holy Grail’ set of mine for a while. While at the time of this writing I only have seven of eight figures, I have been anxious to do a review of this set; the last image (pubic louse) is courtesy of dinocat from the TAI and will function as a placeholder until I can get and image a figure of my own!

This set was one of several taxonomically diverse sets by Play Visions in the mid-late 1990s and one of five sets that contained all arthropods (the others being Exotic Insects, Exotic Beetles, Crabs, and Bees, Wasps, and Hornets; I have reviews of the first three here on the ATF).

The figures are marked with a common name, the traditional ‘PV’ logo, and year (1996). There are some peculiarities on some of the species assignments, so I will address those below. The common name given below is what is stamped on the underside; what’s in parenthesis is Latin name or other designation I am assigning).

On to the figures (in no particular order):

1. scabies mite (Sarcoptes scabiei).
This one is pretty straight-forward and one of only two figures of this species I am aware of, the other being a model by GPI Anatomicals as part of their Canine Skin Parasites set.



2. dust mite (Dermatophagoides farinae).
This is a particular figure that borders on cartoony and seem slightly out-of-place with others in the set. Still, it must be the ONLY figure of a dust mite in existence, huh? I chose D. farinae because it is the North American species; you guys in Europe may chose D. pteronyssinus :-).



3. chigger (soft tick, family Argasidae).
This is one of two clearly misidentified figures in this set. The morphology here is clearly modeled after a soft (argasid) tick. Many soft ticks are superficially similar as adults, so assigning a species or even genus here is difficult. It is probably modeled after Ornithodoros or Carios. I am unaware of any other soft tick figures.



4. deer tick (hard tick, family Ixodidae).
This is the other misidentified figure. In English, at least in North America, the term ‘deer’ tick refers to members of the genus Ixodes, which is one of the most medically-important genera of ticks as it transmits agents of Lyme disease and babesiosis. However, there are three dorsal features here that would normally rule-out a member of Ixodes: the presence of eyes, the presence of festoons, and an ornate dorsal shield. I am not sure what species this was modeled after, but for those of you that insist on assigning species-level IDs, the best option from what’s presented here is the Gulf Coast tick, Amblyomma maculatum. Several genera and species of hard ticks have been made (check out my thread on ‘Arthropod Ectoparasites’ under ‘Animal Groups’).



5. bed bug (Cimex lectularius).
This is another fairly straight-forward one, and frankly my favorite in the set. I have thought about pitching a bed bug to some of the major toy animal manufacturers. I think between the animal toy collectors and medical and public health personnel, it would sell well haha. I have two others, a small one by Club Earth (Backyard Bugs) and a custom figure by Paleo-Creatures.



6. head louse (Pediculus humanus).
As a ‘head’ louse specifically, this would be P. humanus capitis. The only other members of this species I have seen are vintage rubbery ones. I have seen several on eBay (I have lost a couple on bid attempts…) but only have one small one myself.



7. cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis).
Several flea figures attributable to Ctenocephalides have been made (including the large figure by Safari LTD. for the Smithsonian Insects line), but this is the only one I know of specifically marketed as C. felis. I do have a couple figures marketed as the related dog flea, C. canis.



8. pubic louse (Pthirus pubis).
Again, thanks to dinocat of letting me use his image until I can acquire this figure for myself. Probably the most bizarre choice ever for an animal figure, if for no other reason than the social stigma attributed to those colonized by this critter. There is one more figure, by Kaiyodo (Sanitary Insect Pest Exhibition), and I think there may be some vintage rubbery ones out there (you could make one with Creepy Crawly Thingmakers :) ).


bmathison1972
July 07, 2017, 12:13:54 AM by bmathison1972
Views: 123 | Comments: 1

Walkaround of one of the most anticipated figures this year, the common pill-bug, Armadillidium vulgare (Latreille, 1804) by Kaiyodo, Sofubi Toy Box, No. 012A, new for 2017. Armadillidium vulgare is native to the western Palearctic but has been introduced to places around the world, including North America. Kaiyodo previously made this figure (albeit much smaller) in 2015 as part of their Capsule Q Museum Backyard Creatures - Soil Organisms set (see last image).

The figure, well, like many of the Sofubi Toy Box/Megasofubi Advance figures is absolutely amazing. It is made out of a soft, hollow plastic. It can be 'squeezed' but it is not soft and rubbery. Like the swallowtail caterpillar, it is a single-piece with no movable parts.

The figure measures 137 mm (not including appendages), making it approximately 7.5:1 for a large specimen. Apparently there is a color variant which I may or may not get (maybe if I see it conveniently on eBay someday...).

The figure comes in a plastic bag and also includes a catalog for the entire STB series (the swallowtail caterpillar did not come with that).

On to the figures:











"There's a new sheriff in town, little guy."

bmathison1972
July 06, 2017, 01:51:17 AM by bmathison1972
Views: 234 | Comments: 3

Walk-around of the deep-sea pram bug, Phronima sedentaria (Forsskal, 1775), by Ikimon Co. (formerly, Kitan Club) - Nature Techni Colour, Deep Sea Creatures, new for 2017. Phronima sedentaria is an unusual pelagic amphipod that usually lives at a depth of 1000 m (0.6 miles). It is predaceous on salps (a kind of planktonic tunicate). Females tear into a salp, eat the gelatinous innards, and then use the empty shell as a barrel-like structure to swim around in while raising its young. This figure, which comes within it's salp shell, is not only the first amphipod figure (to my knowledge), but also the first salp (although not the first tunicate).

The figure was in a set of 8 'deep sea' critters, including mollusks, arthropods, and fish. The other 'new' species in the set was another arthropod, the giant ostracod Gigantocypris agassizii.

The figure is on a key chain, and I removed the chain and cut away the plastic ring to which it was attached. The salp is 40 mm tall. I cannot stretch out the amphipod itself, as it's a relatively firm, single-piece of plastic, but it's roughly 40-45 mm, making it 1:1 for a large female specimen! The amphipod easily comes out of its salp, it does not connect to the salp in any way but sits loosely within the barrel. The hole at the bottom is narrow enough that it will not fall out easily.

The detail on the amphipod itself it amazing. It was hard to photograph for the walkaround since it's transparent except for some structures in the head. I probably should have photographed it over a black or dark background.

The amphipod within the salp:



The amphipod itself:









I hope recent issues with Photobucket don't prevent others from posting their new critters... :)
bmathison1972
June 22, 2017, 03:00:09 AM by bmathison1972
Views: 154 | Comments: 1

Walk-around of the Japanese carpenter ant, Camponotus japonicus Mayr, 1866 by Takara Tomy A.R.T.S., B.I.G. Insects - 2017. This large ant species is distributed in East Asia. This species has been made once before (to my knowledge), as part of a 'caste' set by Epoch which included a queen and three (5?) workers; three workers are carrying various objects (one has a larva, the others various foodstuffs). Ant figures are rarely identified to the species, or genus, level, but other carpenter ants include the Texas carpenter ant (C. texanus) by Club Earth (Ants and Termites) and an unidentified species by K&M International (Insects Polybag).

The figure, like many Takara figures, requires some assembly. Mine came 8 pieces: head (including antennae), thorax + abdomen, and 6 legs. The antennae were attached but appear to be removable. The figure lacks ocelli, indicating it is a worker (interestingly, the Epoch figures ignored this bit of science and gave their workers ocelli!). It measures 75 mm making it 5:1-10:1 for an average worker (range 6-15 mm). The figure is solid black with no additional color highlights of any kind. The texture is nice and the color matte.

I was excited for this figure. Every year, T-T.A.R.T.S. releases a 'B.I.G. Insects' set, which usually consists of 4 scarabaeoid beetles and one other. The last two years there were mantids (different sizes and, as such, different sculpts), and in 2014 it was an Androctonus scorpion. Earlier than 2014 I am not sure, as I do not have complete sets, but needless to say an ant was a welcome addition.

One to the pics:













with the Epoch 'family':



at home in one of my mini diorama sets:

postsaurischian
June 19, 2017, 12:42:39 PM by postsaurischian
Views: 272 | Comments: 4


                            Kaiyodo - Sofubi Toybox STB 010A (Does this mean we're getting a colour variant soon?)







                                        It's the first model where the second row of teeth on the upper jaw is visible:

                         





                         






                                                     Meeting eggs & larvae (Kaiyodo - Kyoto Aquarium No.03):





                                         Snapping a fish (Nature Techni Colour - Clear Streams In Japan No.01 Ayu):

                         




                                                              The Kaiyodo Giant Salamander family (clockwise):
   Sofubi Toybox No.10A, Animatales No.05, Kyoto Aquarium special resin model, Natural Monuments of Japan No.35, Kyoto Aquarium No.02


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