It’s been a while since I built something that wasn’t space-related. But between my large starships and my Neoclassic Space Vic Vipers and my Blacktron space trucks I’m pretty well spaced out right now, in a manner of speaking.
The manticore comes to us from late Greek mythology. It was believed to inhabit Persia and India, and is described as lionlike with a tail full of sharp spikes or quills that it shoots arrowlike at its enemies.
Greek legends don’t really feature the manticore in any tales; it’s one of the few beasts Hercules didn’t encounter. In that, it’s similar to the gryphons that the Greeks believed to inhabit the Scythian steppes.
Dungeons and Dragons and its ilk have interpreted the manticore as a lion with bat wings and a scorpionlike tail, and that’s the pattern I’ve followed. Sometimes the manticore is depicted with a human head or face, but I didn’t think I could manage that without it becoming cartoony.
Hybrid creatures like this are more difficult to pull off than dragons or sea serpents. Dragons can more or less look like anything and no-one can tell you you’re wrong, unless you’re building a specific dragon like Smaug or Saphira. Also, they’re usually scaly and armoured, which is simpler in bricks than shaggy or hairy.
But hybrid creatures use the body parts of specific creatures. If you’re building a creature with a horse’s body, it had better not look like a buffalo, because everyone knows what a horse looks like and how it differs from a buffalo or a gerbil or an Apatosaurus. You have to be really on your game to pull some of this off and make it look the part.
I want to say that lions are especially tricky because of the mane. Shaggy is one of the hardest effects to achieve in LEGO bricks, and trying to get any meaningful articulation around all that bulk of hair is quite a challenge.
My manticore’s head isn’t the shaggiest lion head with the biggest, most impressive mane, but it is recogniseably a lion. It was undoubtedly the toughest part of this model to put together, and I made several adjustments and alterations until I was satisfied. Bat wings and scorpion tails are easy, even if you don’t use preformed elements for your bat wings like I did. Articulated lions that look like lions – those are hard.
The bulldog stance with those wide shoulders is slightly unpleasing, but I really do need that extra bulk to account for the mane. And if you pose the creature right, you can hide that part fairly well.
I’m sure you could build a manticore in whatever colour you liked. It is, after all, a mythical creature. But while black would certainly look good and brown would be possible, somehow red seems the only reasonable colour for it to be. I just can’t see it in blue, really.
This is another creation that needed a base to stand on. Not only does it make posing the manticore to hide that slight bulldogness about the shoulders easier, but it also just seems to complete the model. I’ve gone out of my way to not define a scale for this beastie, so there are no shrines or temples or minifigures to give you an idea of how big he is. Also I don’t know how to make a temple look recogniseably Persian. There’s a suggestion of broken Greek columns underfoot, but those could be almost any size.
Anyway, here’s my manticore. Until next time, keep calm and brick on!