Since it first aired in 2016, Netflix’s sci-fi/mystery/horror show Stranger Things has become something of a cultural phenomenon… enough so that The LEGO Group produced a Stranger Things set, and hosted a Stranger Things building competition. I designed this model to answer that competition’s prompt, which asked its contestants to present what they thought to be the most “iconically Stranger Things.” To me, nothing better captured the iconography of the series than one of its signature monsters: the Demogorgon.
Read on to learn more about the design of this 10” (27cm) figurine, or click the button below to get its comprehensive building guide!
Before the Build
I’ve watched Stranger Things since the beginning, and greatly enjoy the show. It’s well-made TV. As such, when the challenge arose to turn my artistic lens on the franchise, I jumped at the opportunity. The Demogorgon, like I mentioned, felt like the best choice for this prompt, but a few external influences also settled me on making this particular monster.
Having recently finished up my Sauron figurine, I was eager to make another famous character in the same scale. Meanwhile, several followers of mine drew comparisons between the look of my Planticore and Stranger Things’ Demodog, wondering if I’d borrowed design cues for that faerie steed from the Netflix show. Although I finished and published the Planticore first, I actually had begun work on my Demogorgon beforehand. Accusations of similarity between the two are, therefore, probably justified!
The first things I built for this model were its arms. While I usually start a replica figurine’s build from the head—center of characterization, where the eye goes first—I had such a clear vision for the Demogorgon’s lanky arms and spindly fingers that I couldn’t resist tossing them together right away! A rudimentary head followed, which used the two bottom prongs of a 6x5 leaf element to create the lower flaps of the monster’s maw. I eventually had to ditch that element, upgrading my concept to the design you see here, because the unused third/upper prong of that leaf got in the way of the neck connection.
I set these first sections of the Demogorgon aside for a week or two while I cleaned up, photographed, and published the Planticore. When I returned to the Demogorgon, I sketched its “skeleton.” By skeleton, I mean an extremely rough version of the build including all its primary joints, held together tenuously by miscellaneous plates and bricks. I like working off a skeleton because it lets me “proportionize” the figure—this way, when I attack individual body parts, I know how they should be sized. Addressing a skeleton first also gives me the chance to insure that any final figure will have all the posability necessary to create that character’s trademark poses.
Bones in place, I added “meat” bit by bit. I followed my usual pattern of working distal to proximal on the body. I don’t know why I tend to procrastinate on torsos… maybe it’s because, as the hub of a creature, torsos need to be able to accommodate the limbs, head, etc., and so until those bits near completion, the torso must remain nebulous. That would be the logical answer, at least. I just find myself sometimes opposed to building torsos. Ah, it’s fine—I always manage to get to them eventually!
Final touches in the process included balancing colors, adding the dripping drool, and redesigning the rib cage.
I knew from the outset of this project that I wouldn’t be able to build the Demogorgon in a single color. None of individuals among the assortment of earthy hues that I’ve used here—tan, dark tan, olive green, medium flesh, brown—had all the types of bricks I needed to realize the Demogorgon’s shape alone. But I didn’t want to make the monster look too uniform, anyway. I’m pretty happy with how my color combos look; I think they convey a rotten-flesh-icky vibe pretty well. The color balance of the Demogorgon’s patchy skin was something I had to keep adjusting right until I took pictures, as I didn’t want the scheme to look so random that it would detract from my shaping.
Some of my favorite aspects of the design are: the hands, with their long fingers and extended wrists; the textured ribcage, the two sides of which rest on a 1x1 double angled slope; the shaping of the thighs, which look powerful and sinewy without extraneous bulk; the subtle division between the pectoral muscles; and the head design which, for this scale, I think conveys a lot of the Demogorgon’s essence.
Parts of the build I wish I had difficulty with, or wish I could have found better solutions for: the feet, which from the side look a little too scattered color-wise; the drool, which for the life of me I couldn’t find anywhere to hang than in this one spot; and the upper back, which frankly I didn’t give the most attention to.
Still, despite its flaws, I’m pretty pleased with my Demogorgon’s design, especially since it’s to scale with my Sauron figurine. I see more to-scale figurines coming in the future…
The Demogorgon pictures weren’t too tough to pull off. I set up the build in my usual photo tent set-up. I tried for a few other key-lights to enhance spookiness, but none of these really made much difference so I let those alone. The blue backdrop was an easy choice, as I knew I’d be “blue-screening” this build onto something a little moodier: the Demogorgon’s home turf, the Upside Down.
The backdrop image is pulled from the Stranger Things wiki, blurred a little to suggest perspective. I added extra floaty specks on top of both backdrop and isolated Demogorgon, the better to create a sense of unified place. I also aimed to create unity by tweaking the brightness, contrast, and temperature of the Demogorgon itself. I darkened and cooled the image so that it would look a little more at home with this gloomy backdrop. Some hazes, gradients, and fog renders interposed here and there were what tied everything together.
For the other, less complex images, I basically just adjusted the bright-blue backdrop down so that it rested in a similar palate to the atmospheric shot.
Thanks for reading! If you have any other questions or comments about this model, feel free to leave them in the comments below.