Review of one of my favorite sets, the complete Figure Pictorial Book of Gakken – Insect
by Bandai (year of release unknown). This is a set of 5 typical Japanese species that turn up in many sets, the exception being the spider which is, as far as I know, a ‘unique’ figure.
Now, first thing first, as much as I love these figures, there are better representatives of them (again, except the spider) out there. Don’t get me wrong, they are nice, but not as nice as we have come to expect from other Japanese manufacturers (Kaiyodo, Yujin, Kitan Club/Ikimon).
So, if they are not as good as others, what do I like about them so much? Well, for those of you who follow my posts know I love figures on bases. They are especially nice for insects, which otherwise are made as flat, sprawling figures. Each of these comes on a really neat habitat-style base.
The figures are all single-piece PVC and come attached to their base. I am sure they are safely removeable, I just have never tried. For one, I like them on the base, and secondly, I do not want to risk damage. They are all typical gashapon-sized figures, but the bases may make them a little longer or taller than other similarly-sized Japanese figures.
On to the figures (in no particular order):
1. garden spider, Argiope amoena
As I already mentioned, I think this is a unique figure. It sits atop its web, with a small fly underneath (the fly is painted on the underside of the clear PVC web).[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
2. Japanese rhinoceros beetle, Allomyrina dichotoma
This Japanese staple comes attached to a small branch/log with a sprig of leaves. There are two small green beetles sculpted onto the branch, too. Not sure what they are meant to represent, but I am thinking another sap-feeding scarab, Pseudotorynorrhina japonica
I am not going to waste your time or mine listing all the other versions of this species made, as I can tell you I have 39 additional figures by 19 manufacturers, plus a few from unknown manufacturers![You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
3. cicada, gen. sp. (probably Graptopsaltria nigrofuscata
This figure is displayed emerging as a new adult from its nymphal exuvia, just like the Lyristes plebejus
in my recent review of Kaiyodo’s Souvenirs Entomologiques. Kabaya (Insect Directory) also did a molting cicada and Bandai, in another set, did six figures representing the post-moly drying process![You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
4. Japanese giant water bug, Lethocerus deyrollei
This is the coolest of them all, and one of my favorite and most dynamic figures. It is displayed underwater and face-down, feasting on fresh prey: a small frog!!! I had done a walkaround of this figure on ATF but after the Great Photoshop purge of the Late Holocene, I decided to just review the whole set.
This figure has also been made by Yujin, F-Toys, and three times by Kaiyodo.[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
5. Japanese giant mantis, Tenodera aridifolia
This figure is poised elegantly upon a branch, but nicely with its wings open, as if about to take off (or it just landed). This figure is also no stranger to toy/figure form and has been made by Furuta, Hayakwa Toys, Rement, and Yujin. Unnamed mantids by Takara Tomy A.R.T.S. may also be attributable to this species.[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]