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Bug collector (more photos uploaded 3-25-14)

Started by BugFolk, March 10, 2014, 11:05:11 PM

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I collect vinyl toy insects since I was a child, but sadly I lost a good amount of my collection several years ago when I moved away.
These are a few that I have. (You can ignore the Creepy Crawlers and that flower I made out of air-dry clay)

Has anyone seen these? They were circa 1990s - very early 2000's. Mostly around 1990-1995. A few of the 1980-1970's ones I got from other people or 2nd hand stores.

Undersides give very little clue what company they came from. Just the date, a circled TM, a boxed 'J' or other letter, the species or family name, CE and what country made in, aka China. Beetle one is labeled with 'Funrise' I believe. Legs were broken when I got it, but a couple more might have fallen off in play or storage.
I think I recall the paper tags being from "Hidden Kingdom" which I think is under Safari LTD, but searching under their site is fruitless. I only see very few insect specimens and not nearly as detailed and realistic as these older ones.

Anyone know what I am talking about? There used to be bunches of these, including a line of realistic beetles and caterpillars.  I'm especially looking for the unique insects (non butterfly, non ladybug) ones.  But I can't find them anywhere. Not on eBay. Not on Amazon. Not anywhere. Makes me sad, that I didn't beg my parents for more money when they were being sold originally. :'(



You are welcome to ATF new friend.
My website: Paleo-Creatures
My website's facebook: Paleo-Creatures


Hi and welcome, ButterflyChaser! :-) Some of those figures are really nice (there's even a dytiscid beetle among them!) but I'm afraid none of them has anything to do with Safari's current or previous Hidden Kingdom or Smithsonian Collection lines. :-\


I am an entomologist and collector of toy/replica arthropods and insects. For a while, those were my exclusive groups, but I'm starting to expand to other invertebrates as well.



Hello Butterflychaser :) Nice to meet you. I think I know the toys you are talking about, as I had/have some myself! I particularly recognise the praying mantis (i think that's what it is. Sorry if I am mistaken.) I'm afraid I don't know where you might find them, but I seem to recall buying packs of them for party bags from a supermarket with my mum back in the 90's. They also often tend to do quite detailed creature toys, bugs included, in zoo and aquarium gift shops, which is where I bought some of my favourite childhood animal figures. Of course, they wouldn't be these same ones from the 90's, but having a look about might give you an idea of what brand/brands to look for. If I find any of mine I shall post some pictures and see if they have any clues on them that might help. :)


Thanks for the welcome. I've been waiting to post. I took more photos of the bugs that came from my sister when she came over to visit this last Thanksgiving. Before she and my dad drove up, they captured some of my collection. I'm still missing a few beetles though. One longhorn with its wings open, but I got at least two of them.
Pics will be coming soon. I'll either edit this post or add it to the next post.  I have quite a lot, so I might just upload to photobucket and paste the links.

The closest I could find was Blip toys???? I saw some of them offered on Aliexpress, but I am suspicious of their payment methods. If they took pay pal maybe, but still from China I don't know what I'd get.

Anyways a few more clues:  They each came with a tag, especially the ant, bee, and praying mantis. The tag, when you opened it had some facts about the bug. Other places I found them was one teaching/learning supply place near Appleton, WI (can't remember the name. I want to say Learning company, but that's software as far as I know.). They had a whole bin of them. I picked up a few and a bug net for my 10th birthday. That's like 20 years ago. Yes that makes me 30. So yes these toys are from 15-20+ years ago. I also found them in a couple Museum gift shops in WI. The praying mantis and a few others, that I will be posting came from gifts.  The Milwaukee Museum had a whole bin of butterflies of different species (similar to, but thicker and better quality to the Safari LTD toob type butterflies) for about $.99 a bug. Give or take a few cents from there. The designs were stamped on instead of loosely airbrushed.
Other butterflies and the beetles (that I haven't posted yet) came from Accents Crafts (now gone) from about early 2000-2004(?)



None of the butterflies or beetles have any branding located on them. Just an oval either hand drawn or not over a capital T.M.  No clue whether that is just 'Trade Mark' or if the T.M. stands for anything. Google produces no results. Even if I do see something faintly resembling my collection, they aren't by brand or anything. Just looks like reused versions, or shrunken versions of the same molds. Painting quality much poorer. I also have a rubber, eraser-like tiny bee, sold as a pocket trinket like thing. Not sure what brand those come from either other than they are still around. Not exact mold but close.

Edit: I got the photos up:

Old Safari LTD:
Missing - Bumblebee from this set - I used it in an an art project for high school.

P.S. Sorry about broken links. I'll have to fix those later.
Lifcycle set:

Caterpillar: photo can be found in the gallery. Didn't snap an individual. Pupa -either not existing or missing Emerging:
Just emerged: Adult: Backside

Caterpillar: Upper right. Note: I do have a swallowtail pupa in my photos, but I think it came with another set that was the mourning cloak butterfly lifecycle. The morning cloak butterfly is broken though.


1) the beetles, individual butterflies, caterpillars, and treehopper (maybe) are PlayVisions (or PV knock-offs, maybe Nayab).

2) Your old Safari LTD set is missing more than the bumblebee. There is also a scorpion and red-kneed tarantula in the set (I have the complete set)

3) The butterfly life cycle is by AAA. There was a painted lady cycle too, but that was put out by Insect Lore.


I love the leaves. It says on photobucket that you made them yourself. Great work. They really make your collection stand out :D I think I own/used to own a few of those smaller sized butterflies, or some similar. I also really like the life cycle set. I have a life cycle of a frog set somewhere. Do you know if that might be made by the same company?
EDIT: I also meant to ask, how did you make those lovely leaves?


to my knowledge, two companies made frog life cycles: TEDCO Toys and Safari LTD.


Thanks. There's also a Wild Republic that does insect and animal stuff. I have two of their paint and play sets. One of them has butterflies. I have them primed with sealer, but have yet to paint them yet. The larger set I have painted, but I give them to a friend. I thought maybe the life cycles belonged to them, but I guess not. 

What does AAA stand for? I think I looked up insect lore but couldn't find anything related to my toys. The Beetles are likely Play vision. There's a P.V. I wonder if they also were related to the T.M butterflies. When I bought them I used to get them individually but there were also boxes, mini lunch box style and clear with a set. It would say "Box of..." Box of caterpillars or box of butterflies or Box of...frogs. There were also stretchy versions as well as life-like versions. Accents had a whole aisle dedicated to these miniature toys. They weren't just insects, but animals too. I just happened to collect the insects.

Re: Safari set: I don't think my set ever had the spider or the scorpian. Either I bought it from the gift shop missing those two or there was a smaller set that just had four? Butterfly, dragonfly, bee and ladybug?  If not then perhaps I used them in the art project, but I really don't remember ever owning them.

Re: Leaves - I cast some African violet and Streptocarpus leaves from my plant collection. It's a tedious process involving silicone paint and putty. Some of them I have to cast the back side, then make another mold to make it look like the front side. After that is done, I can press in either air dry or polymer clay. Areas that get distorted from removing, I touch up with clay tools. Takes about a day per leaf, but it's fun to have the result. I've also cast coneflowers and a few other things. But still, I'll need to buy more of the stuff and do some more casting when the summer comes around. I'd also like to try casting insect wings, but I don't really like to murder butterflies, etc for them.

With flowers: Usually only the center gets preserved in casting. The petals I end up sculpting. I have more in my flickr:
Most of those flowers were started from a real flower but the finishing is done mostly with clay tools.


Quote from: brontodocus on March 12, 2014, 12:11:58 PM
Hi and welcome, ButterflyChaser! :-) Some of those figures are really nice (there's even a dytiscid beetle among them!) but I'm afraid none of them has anything to do with Safari's current or previous Hidden Kingdom or Smithsonian Collection lines. :-\

I am revisiting this thread. I can tell you the dytiscid is by Funrise Toys. The others in those first pics are generic (and I have them as well)