The Penguin is probably my favourite Batman villain. The perennially-popular Joker normally hogs all the attention, and there’s something to be said for the deranged-clown sick humour of Batman’s usual archnemesis, but I’ve always preferred the Penguin. I love his umbrella-wielding outcast-in-a-tuxedo bending of ritzy chic, and the naturalist in me grooves to his avian and nautical theme.
If the Batman franchise is a journey through insanity and psychosis, then most of the major villains can be thought of as emblematic of different psychological or emotional influences. Scarecrow, obviously, is the power of fear. Two-Face represents multiple personality disorder, and Joker is just psychotically deranged randomness.
In this schema, Penguin probably represents rejection. It may be telling that I find him such a great villain. He’s the one I can almost relate to. Hmm…
It seems that the Penguin doesn’t get a lot of love from the LEGO Group. Joker appears in multiple sets along with his more recent (I think) sidekick addition Harley Quinn; Catwoman gets her motorcycles; Bane is all over the place. Mr. Freeze, Killer Croc and Poison Ivy all get face time. Even the Riddler gets more attention. No love for the poor Penguin.
While this is sort of ironically apt, it’s kind of disheartening for us Penguin fans who do LEGO. Even worse is the lack of imagination exhibited by most Penguin-including sets. The LEGO Batman Movie “Batcave Break-in” set is pretty typical in this regard: the Penguin drives an armed giant rubber duck. This seems to be LEGO Penguin’s hardware-of-choice, which is nearly inexcusable because really, Penguin has almost as much LEGO set potential as Batman himself. I mean, kudos to them for “The Penguin’s Arctic Roller”, which shows more imagination (as well as the disastrous misapprehension that penguins are Arctic birds), but even then I haven’t seen it in a store. Nobody loves the Penguin.
Time to rectify that situation while I’m in Batman mode? You bet!
Enter the Penguin Flyer.
Batman has his Batwing, and Joker has been known to use balloons, but just because he’s named after a flightless bird, there’s no reason the Penguin can’t take to the skies. This bird’s no longer flightless!
Besides, “flying penguin” is fun to say.
Building a fighter jet that looks like a penguin strikes exactly the right note of dangerous silliness, and on a more practical note the penguin is at least as good a model for an aircraft as the bat. Take that, Batwing!
The rounded bubble canopy was picked for the slightly goofy, zany look of the LEGO Batman Movie’s hardware and because Penguin is like that. Even in more serious Batman movies, Penguin is the sort who arms giant rubber ducks. The 1966 Adam West/Burt Ward Batman movie got Penguin’s style perfectly with that wonderfully kitschy Penguin submarine. I was trying for much the same effect in an aircraft. Meaningless gears in the back for the clunky, outcast hardware look, and my first ever use of brick separators as a structural element. I picked them as simply being the right colour and roughly the right shape, but they actually work well. The Penguin is in the air!
And armed with two stud shooters, two flick missiles and a pair of light-calibre machine guns.
We don’t technically have a Penguin minifigure in this household (though I have a birthday coming up and I may treat myself to the Arctic Roller), so I’ve had to improvise. My version lacks his trademark tuxedo and monocle, but I got the top hat.
Really, Penguinware shouldn’t be limited to the armed rubber ducks I’ve seen time and time again. Anything Bats or Joker can do, Penguin ought to be able to do with more style. Penguinmobiles shaped like a cross between a limousine and a battleship. Rocket-propelled umbrella jetpacks. Secret floating polar headquarters disguised as an iceberg. And yes, Penguin boats and Penguin submarines and giant robot mechapenguins and zany underground mole-penguins…