I built this original creature as an entry into a contest on LEGO Ideas. The premise: “show us your take on a nature build with an alternative twist.” Building an animal comprised of plants was one of the first ideas that occurred to me. For my animal, I decided to build a predator—emulate a lion, or maybe a tiger—to go as much against the grain of the typical, peaceful connotations surrounding plants as I could.
The first thing I built were the Planticore’s floral tails. My idea to make the tail more of a “bouquet” than just a single stem arose around my use of lime green Technic pulleys to secure the long-stemmed lily. There were 6 pin holes, so I filled them all with different species of flowers. Two of the blossoms in particular are special to me: the calla lily and the lavender. The former is my fiancée’s favorite flower, and the latter my mom’s! I’m happy with the multiple flowers’ stems intertwining; I think they make for a really nice-looking tail that seems both dangerous and beautiful.
With this unusual tail in place, and the skeleton of the rest of the body designed, I had an epiphany for what to call this creature: a “Planticore!” The perfectly punny name is a portmanteau of plant (obviously) and Manticore, a creature that was part man, part lion, and part scorpion. The Planticore, meanwhile, is part flower, part root, and part weed. Its feet are strong roots, its hide layered leaves, and its tail a bouquet of fresh flowers. After all, why not? I was already working towards a feline body, and the tail felt too unorthodox to belong to a regular lion or tiger. I certainly feel like I landed on a very “alternative twist” in this build.
I decided early that roots would be the most logical and fun way to accomplish the creature’s “fingers.” I quite like how the roots are the part of the monster closest to the ground… it just feels natural for what is, at the end of the day, a creative piece of vegetation. It took a little adjustment to get these just right, with texture and variety but not so large that they made the Planticore feel too, well, rooted on the ground. I wanted an agile-looking creature. Nevertheless, a few baby carrots are starting to grow on a few of the fingers.
Adding bees to the build felt totally natural. I used a bee template I first designed in 2015 for the third wave of Dragon Lands. These, along with the floral blossoms I had designed, provided an initial sense of smallness the Planticore. They made the beast look like it was meant to have been built larger-than-life. This was an impression I wanted to reinforce, so I started to think about possibilities for household objects, or objects commonly found in backyards and gardens, that I could include in my final presentation to cement the sense of scale I was looking for here.
The first idea I had was to make a baseball, but that proved too difficult to accomplish at the scale I wanted (and, besides, my supply of white is still tremendously diminished after my Château de Chenonceau replica). I used two 8x8 yellow domes to comprise a ball, but I couldn’t figure out how to make clear what it was supposed to be. It was a suggestion from my fiancée to cast the shiny, bright-yellow sphere as a croquet ball that really propelled me into the build’s finishing touches. I built a wicket to make explicit this ball’s function, thereby clearly suggesting its intended scale in the model. Then I had the thought: wouldn’t it be fun to further exploit the sense of all-around smallness suggested by the croquet equipment?
A plant monster was already fantastic, so I figured adding faeries into the mix couldn’t really shift the genre of the build, only accentuate it. I designed a quartet of Garden Faeries to accompany the Planticore. Their leader brandishes a raspberry staff, and one of the warriors uses a household needle for her sword. It was fun trying to make these minifigures feel like they were smaller-than-life even than regular LEGO characters. I’m really glad I decided to include these little people, especially because they give the presentation so much more of a sense of story.
Thanks for reading! If you have any other questions or thoughts about this model, feel free to leave them in the comments below.