Spooky season has firmly arrived, with Halloween on the way and falling autumn leaves, so is looking at how the ghost minifigure has evolved since its first appearance 32 years ago.
Gliding through haunted manor halls or moaning in dark forests, ghosts are a Halloween staple. Ghost stories, ghost marshmallows and ghost costumes are all part of the event. They feature in everything from classic literature like Wuthering Heights to modern animation like The Nightmare Before Christmas. Ghosts are a staple for the LEGO Group too, going all the way back to 1990.
So, when did ghosts first start haunting LEGO sets? How have they changed? Grab a pumpkin spice latte and prepare for a not so spooky story, as Blocks, the LEGO magazine for fans, glides through the evolution of the LEGO ghost minifigure…
The LEGO ghost made its debut in the Castle theme, much like witches and skeletons, roaming the tower of 6081 King’s Mountain Fortress, which is also known as The Haunted Castle. What’s quite striking about this minifigure is it’s only half a minifigure – literally. Only a white minifigure torso and plain black head are used and the ‘legs’ are actually a 1×2 brick and a 1×2 plate. The specially moulded flowing robes to give the signature look to the ghost prevent minifigure legs from moving, so they aren’t used.
This moulded piece hasn’t been changed much at all. It’s made to look very friendly, really channeling Casper, featuring a smiling face and soft doe eyes. It’s a very special piece in LEGO history because the ghost shroud was the first ever glow in the dark element, setting the stage for all to come after. Many Castle sets really played up this glow ability, highlighting it on the box art, and 1596 Ghostly Hideout gave the minifigure a dark tree hollow to glow inside.
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In the late 1990s ghosts got an upgrade in the unlikeliest of themes – Time Cruisers. This remains the only in-house LEGO time travelling theme, and it was weird to say the least. Each time machine was powered by special hats. However, the ghost’s shroud element is moulded slightly shorter so a full minifigure could be used.
After the 1990s, the ghost disappeared for quite a while, not reappearing until a cameo in Knights Kingdom II in 2006. However, the ghost included in 10176 King’s Castle is a bit of a step backwards. On the torso the hands are yellow for some indiscernible reason. Ghostly colour palettes are firmly in the blue, white and grey territories (unless you’re Hidden Side), so the yellow just looked odd.
Things then got much spookier in 2012 with Monster Fighters. This beloved theme featured all kinds of paranormal creatures, and the ghost mould is updated to have a more ghoulish expression. 30201 Ghost, which can win the award for simplest polybag name ever, even added a ball and chain onto the ghost’s leg.
One particularly unique ghost arrived with The LEGO Movie when Vitruvius sacrifices himself for Emmet, returning as a kindly ghost mentor. He channels that classic friendly ghost vibe, but with a unique headband and cape kept from his original minifigure costume.
What all these minifigures have in common is a lack of pose-ability, and NINJAGO alongside Collectible Minifigures sought to change that, really setting up the current style of LEGO ghosts. New transparent ectoplasm elements suddenly give the ghosts the freedom to move and hold things, becoming ninja warriors, spectres, banshees or even librarians in the case of 75827 Ghostbusters Headquarters.
While ghosts started off as simple static minifigures they’ve now evolved into far more complex minifigures of differing colours and finding homes across multiple themes. Which do you prefer though – the classic minifigure ghost or the current modern style? Come tell Blocks on any of our social media channels!