Review and photos by stargatedalek; edited by bmathison1972
Editor’s note: It gives me pleasure to post the first Blog review by longstanding forum member, stargatedalek. I have a confession to make; I had a sneaky suspicion this would be her first… :-). I actually intentionally have not reviewed it myself because I thought she’d be submitting it!
I am very excited and grateful to be submitting my first review to the ATF featuring one of my favorite figures; the Eastern lubber grasshopper (Romalea microptera) by Safari Ltd. for their Smithsonian Insects Line in 1994! The Smithsonian Insects collection were released in the mid-late 1990s in conjunction with a traveling exhibit featuring large automatronic insects! Also known as the Florida lubber, Devil’s horse, and Graveyard grasshopper, these large grasshoppers are monotypic (only member of their genus) and can regularly reach over 3 inches in adult length (the figure is about 6 inches long making it more or less exactly 2:1 scale).
They come in several natural colour morphs ranging from yellows and oranges to black with yellow stripes and most have pink sections on their brachypterous (reduced to being flightless) wings. The figure depicts the most common yellow colour. For a piece intended as a mass produced toy the colour scheme and patterns are particularly complex, even comparable in execution to high end collectible manufacturers like Kaiyodo.
I’ve seen three of them in hand (see images below) and two distinct production variants, one with an orange thorax and thick black markings, the other with a yellow thorax and black markings with openings that show more of the yellow plastic beneath. The size coupled with a genuine heft give them a strangely authentic feeling, like you could be holding a giant counterpart to the real thing. On the downside these figures have a notably complicated mold, and coupled with the relatively brittle plastic it’s not uncommon to find them with broken or missing limbs.
This figure is such a personal favorite that they’ve earned a permanent centerpiece home above my workstation (the one in the center was heavily damaged and repaired, then repainted based loosely on a different species of lubber grasshopper).
Sadly these are long out of production, so finding them is a labor of love, or perhaps more accurately of patience, but they do pop up on eBay now and then.