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Tarantula (AMT/Ertl - Gigantics)

Started by bmathison1972, July 23, 2017, 04:20:44 PM

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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: