With the LEGO City 2022 sets having introduced a new cat element this year, Blocks magazine takes a look at how the feline has changed its stripes…
Cats. Felines. Mouse catchers. The ever popular furry companion goes by many names and comes in more colour options than IKEA furniture. About 26% of homes in the USA and the UK have a pet cat, and they’ve appeared in numerous LEGO sets, featuring everything from stripes to mohicans. The City 2022 sets introduced a new kitten mould that puts the figure at a much more accurate minifigure scale.
This will come as a shock to most cat lovers, but minifigures technically didn’t have cats until 2013. Now, you are all probably thinking that’s nonsense and cats appeared in sets before then. Here’s the thing though, those ‘cats’ were actually kittens. Introduced for the Belville theme, the little pouncing kitten is scaled to be much smaller than the Belville cat. So small in fact that it could look perfectly normal next to a LEGO minifigure. When Belville was retired, most of the unique pieces were too big to be reused anywhere else, but this kitten became a cat for minifigures.
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It’s actually Crookshanks we have to thank for decorating the cat. In the Harry Potter films Crookshanks is the grumpy tabby cat belonging to Hermione Granger, and he appears in 4842 Hogwarts Castle from 2010. This is the first time the piece was printed, featuring a nose, a few stripes and little eyes. This particular version would go on to be used the most, although a white version does appear in a few sets.
The actual minifigure cat didn’t appear until 2013, making its debut in 71002 Collectible Minifigures Series 11. The grandma character has a grey cat and the new mould is far more expressive, with a curling tail and detailed head. This mould has had the most variations, including stripes, glowing eyes to be Professor McGonagall’s animagus in 76402 Hogwarts: Dumbledore’s Office, and most crazily of all a mohican for 71023 The LEGO Movie 2 Collectible Minifigures.
So, why change this cat? Upgrading from the Belville kitten to the cat made a lot of sense because the Belville mould was starting to look really dated next to the much more accurate LEGO dog moulds. Now, the cat has had another change for the City 2022 sets. This is possibly because the current version is technically not to scale. It comes up to the hip of a minifigure, which makes the cat look huge in comparison, and not the type you’d want curling up on a lap.
However, from set photos it looks like this new cat mould is serving a dual purpose. It’s coming in sets like 60320 Fire Station as a cat, putting it to scale next to the dalmatian that’s also included. Then it’s also being used 60321 Fire Brigade as kittens to the larger cat mould. So, in reality the cat is going back to its roots and fulfilling a dual purpose once again as a kitten and a cat.
Do you like the new LEGO cat element? If you’d like to show off your favourite cat moulds or prints then snap a photo and share it with us on any of the Blocks social media channels!