Welcome back to Myths and Minifigs! Today, we’re trading graveyards and dungeons for the eternal winter of the Himalayas and the murky forests of North America, to enter a surprisingly modern world of creepy cryptids. You might have heard of the Jersey Devil, the Dover Demon, or most famously the Mothman.
These otherwordly beings who are still being sighted across the USA to this very day are referred to as “cryptids”: animals that exist only as stories and unsubstantiated hearsay. It might sound silly, but science has proven that dogs, bears, and spiders, for example, are real…but nobody has ever been able to provide indisputable evidence that Bigfoot is really stomping through the forests of British Columbia.
That hasn’t stopped our imaginations running wild with these strange tales, and with imagination being one of LEGO’s core values, it’s only natural that we’ve seen several infamous creatures of modern myth in Minifigure form.
In 2012, as part of Monster Fighters (one of my favourite LEGO themes, as I’m sure you’ve guessed by now) LEGO gave us 9461 The Swamp Creature. Swampy (as I’m going to call him from now on, sorrynotsorry) is a scaly-green-skinned version of the Gill-man from the Creature from the Black Lagoon, a classic horror movie in the same pantheon of classics as the Boris Karloff Frankenstein and Bela Lugosi Dracula, although Creature came out much later.
The USA is full of legends of humanoid creatures living in swamps – usually reptilian or amphibian, with huge red eyes and covered in slime and dirt – such as the Loveland Frog, the Honey Island swamp monster, the Fouke monster, and too many more to count, with sightings all throughout the 19th, 20th and 21st century! Yes, people are still seeing giant, green monsters lumbering out of their local swamps to terrorise the townsfolk, and Creature from the Black Lagoon was an amalgamation of all these legends. Needless to say, Gill-man has only cemented the swamp monster as a staple of monster movies and pop culture, so it’s no surprise that we eventually got a Minifigure (and where better than Monster Fighters?)
Swampy’s enjoyed the most colourful life of any of LEGO’s cryptids, jumping back and forth between themes and appearing in several forms. After Monster Fighters, we didn’t see him again until 2014, when he had a cameo in The LEGO Movie but only in the film, not in any sets. A shame, but just a year later, we were greeted by Swampy’s ‘cousin’ in 75903 Haunted Lighthouse, part of the LEGO Scooby-Doo theme, one of my own all-time fave themes.
Interestingly (if predictably, what with those meddling kids and their dog) this Swamp Monster – this time dark green with lavender highlights – turned out to be a man in a mask! Like all the monsters in this theme, turning the Minifigure’s head around showed the human in the suit, and this Swamp Monster (real name ‘Mr Brown’) was no exception. So technically, Swampy didn’t quite make an appearance…though that didn’t stop me doing a stop-motion about the two Minifigures and their budding friendship.
His most recent trip out of murky waters was just a few months ago, as part of The LEGO Movie 2‘s collectible minifigure series. The results are…interesting, I guess. Like the rest of Bricksburg, Swampy’s adopted a hardened lifestyle, along with some questionable fashion choices: does a denizen of the deep need slacks (but no shirt), cargo pants, and a whip? That last part’s giving me some really disturbing mental images. Still, this latest appearance gave us Swampy’s headpiece in bright green, and I guess with all three minifigures, you could have them each portray real cryptids from different states (or at least, that’s what I’m doing).
Bigfoot (or Bigfeet?)
So that’s one infamous cryptid’s place in LEGO’s history books (or display shelving, as you like it) but I know who you’re really here for. Slender Man.
Just kidding! LEGO would never touch that urban legend (because he’s real). Let’s stick around in the USA just a little longer to meet Sasquatch, also called Bigfoot. Or rather, in LEGO’s case, Squarefoot.
Brown-furred, tall, hulking through the thick forests of the Pacific Northwest, stories of Bigfoot trace back to the 1800s…or even further, depending on who you ask. According to some, Native American cultures have had similar legends for centuries.It’s possibly only natural that, in an area of dense woodland, hunters and lumberjacks might mistake tall, misshapen trees for a creature, and that over time, the stories from Native American and American settler cultures converged into tales of the monster we know today.
Actual sightings of ‘Bigfoot’ go back to 1840, but the most famous are from the 20th century. The most famous of them all – and the image on which LEGO’s attempt is clearly based – is a 59 second reel shot by intrepid Bigfoot enthusiast Roger Patterson in 1967, who claimed right up to his deathbed that it was not a hoax. You can see the footage on YouTube and decide for yourself.
LEGO’s Minifigure of Bigfoot – or ‘Squarefoot’, as he is officially listed – is a lot of fun, but also very simple, appearing in Series 14 of LEGO’s Collectible Minifigures series. The only printing of any note on the torso and legs is a set of six, dark-flesh-tone toes on his feet, to match his hands. The key element is a pre-fab head with a grim, toothy expression, re-used in brown from a yeti Minifigure a few years prior. It’s a simple design that perfectly captures the stereotypical image of the sasquatch.
The best part? In an ironic choice of accessory, Squarefoot’s holding a camera. Why has it always been impossible to find footage of sasquatch? Well, it’s because he’s been behind the lens!
Personally, I love this minifigure, and think he’s a perfect addition to just about every campsite or caravan set LEGO have released. After all, what’s a camping trip in the woods without scary stories of hairy monsters stomping through the dark?
10 years ago, I wouldn’t have thought it likely that LEGO would make Minifigures of Bigfoot or the Loveland Frog, but here we are! With that in mind, there are a few other curious cryptids I’d love to see LEGO make in Minifigure form. Some are a little too freaky even for LEGO’s tastes, like the terrifying Jersey Devil, but there are plenty that are high profile enough and interesting enough to perhaps, perhaps, appear as LEGO Minifigures someday.
The first is the big one: the Mothman, one of the most famous cryptids of all. West Virginia had sightings of this winged, red-eyed beast thoughout the 20th century, culminating in a strange connection to the collapse of the Silver Bridge in Point Pleasant. Point Pleasant even has a metal statue of the creature, and started a festival in its name in 2002. How might a Minifigure work? Well, especially since LEGO Legends of Chima, LEGO is very familiar with Minifigure wings, and would likely use the same or similar pieces to create the Mothman’s huge moth wings. It would likely be entirely black, and a typical Minifigure head could be replaced with space for two 1×1 trans-red studs to replicate its glowing eyes.
Many other cryptids are like real-world animals, but greater in size or with otherwordly features. Great Britain’s ‘Beast of Bodmin Moor’ – a huge, spectral cat, like a puma but wreathed in shadow – could be a black or dark green reprinting of the Sabre-Tooth Tiger that debuted in 60193 Arctic Air Transport, while the furry, smelly Skunk Ape of Florida could be a build similar to 70125 Gorilla Legend Beast, but with LEGO Flowers and Plants on top of its fur.
As with any theme, the possibilities are limited only by the source material, and there are plenty of cryptids for LEGO or fan builders alike to choose from, but the fact alone that we’ve had two prominent cryptids as minifigures already is exciting to me. It’s an overlap of my own interests that I never thought LEGO would indulge in for their part, and I hope to see them make more curious creatures of modern myth in the near future.
For now though, it’s time to close the coffin lid, and snuff out the lanterns. I’ll see you all soon for a look at some of my favourite mythological minifigures, as we break bread with the gods of the ancient LEGO world!
Written by Jack Rizzo / Jam Pot Studios