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Chinese mantis (AMT/Ertl - Gigantics)

Started by bmathison1972, July 18, 2017, 08:33:36 PM

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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 ( 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...