All artists involved are no longer living, and that’s probably for the best.

During this hectic holiday shopping season we all have to think about that one tough-to-buy-for relative or acquaintance in our lives, who likes nothing but classical art and those little insects that roll up into a ball when you poke them with a ballpoint pen.

“Roly polies…” “Potato bugs…” “Pill bugs…” “Wood lice…” “Dango mushi…” They go by many names but sadly few collectible commodities – until now! Premium Bandai has unleashed the awesome power of these critters to be used as the canvas for some of Japan’s finest woodblock print ukiyo-e masterpieces.

The BugArts Ukiyo-e collection comes in five types, each with its own classic work on the back:

Katsushika Hokusai‘s The Great Wave off Kanagawa and Fine Wind, Clear Morning

Ōtani Oniji III as Yakko Edobei by Toshusai Sharaku

Utagawa Kuniyoshi‘s Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre

Utagawa Yoshifuji‘s The Bewitched Cat of Okabe

They are five amazing pictures in their own right, but when placed on the back of a big pill bug you can’t help but feel new life being breathed into each one.

Of course, these are not real insects, but they are a continuation of Bandai’s Dango Mushi figure series which prides itself on its highly accurate anatomical representation of actual pill bugs. In fact, each one has the capability to be rolled up into a ball, making them perfect to spruce up your home in both an organic and elegant way.

They are all 10x scale models of real wood lice, and measure about 14 centimeters (5.5 inches) long or 7 centimeters (2.75 inches) in diameter when rolled up.

Such exquisite craftsmanship doesn’t come cheap, however. The set of five bugs cost 6,600 yen (US$63), but it comes in a classy black case. Looking at it all, you really have to ask yourself, “Can I afford not to have these?”

Unfortunately, they’ve just opened for pre-orders on December 11th and shipping isn’t scheduled until June, so it doesn’t look like they’ll be available for delivery during the holiday season, but we’re sure that any potato bug-loving art aficionado wouldn’t mind waiting.

That being said, we have to remind everyone – and we can’t stress this enough – that these are not giant isopods! Anyone looking for those gross things can find what they’re after here instead.

Source: Bandai Premium, PR Times, Akiba Souken
Images: PR Times
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