September 28, 2023

Evolution of the LEGO® Snake

Happy world snake day. Yes, that is a thing, and it happens annually on July 16. Snakes have a complex history with mankind. Throughout the early history of our species, snakes represented a significant threat to our livelihood. Be it through defensive action or predatory behaviour, early primates and humans alike learned wariness of these creatures. In fact, some scholars believe that modern day apprehension surrounding snakes stems from a deep rooted evolutionary instinct to avoid these animals. Some cultures believe snakes are symbols of rebirth and life. In others, snakes represent evil. Either way, snakes hold a significant place in human symbolism. Consequently, it comes as no surprise that they are in all aspects of modern day culture, including toys. Covering land, sea, and air, the LEGO® Group has produced several creatures over the years, including snakes. So, let’s take a look at the Evolution of the LEGO® Snake.

The evolution of the LEGO Snake took a turn in 2018 when Nagini was introduced in the Harry Potter Collectible Minifigures Series.
The first LEGO® python represented Nagini in the Harry Potter Collectible Minifigure Series in 2018.

For the purposes of this article, I’m considering only full bodied, one piece snake elements. We’re not looking at brick built creatures. Additionally, we’re not considering elements that only represent part of the snake form and require attachment to other elements in order to represent a complete creature or structure. With that said, the LEGO® Group produced four snake molds over its storied history. Interestingly, LEGO® snakes all represent species that capture our fear, and none that represent the more docile and benign nature of this suborder of animals.

The evolution of the LEGO snake began with this black rattlesnake in 1996.
The evolution of the LEGO® snake began with this black rattler in 1996.

The first LEGO® snakes appeared in the Western theme in 1996.

The first snakes appeared in LEGO® form in 1996 as part of the Western theme. These were black, representing rattlesnakes from the pit viper family. There are 36 known species of rattlesnake, all found exclusively in the Americas. Biologists named them for the rattle-like structure on their tail. In fact, the rattle consists of a series of hollow, modified scales. This structure is clearly visible on the LEGO® design. Since their first appearance, LEGO® rattlesnakes have shown up in over 110 sets to date, with the mold still in use. Additionally, they come in five colors: black, green, red, lime, and light bluish grey. The latter two are rarest with lime green appearing in seven sets, and light bluish grey in only two.

Four of the five rattlesnake variants produced since 1996. I am only missing the rare light bluish grey version.

The rattlesnake was the only LEGO® snake species until 2012. At that point, the Ninjago theme introduced a new viper. This animal appears purely fictional, mixing elements of a cobra-like snake with a rattle-like tail. In fairness, Ninjago represents a fantasy theme. Consequently, a fantasy species is acceptable. However, the fangs and rattle strongly suggest a venomous creature. Additionally, the Serpentine represent villains in the series, which does not help the image of the snake much. These snakes appeared in 18 sets from 2012-2013. Additionally, they came in eight different colors: dark blue, lime, red, white, pearl gold, as well as trans dark blue, orange, and purple.

I don’t actually own this variety of LEGO® snake from Ninjago, so this image was sourced from Bricklink.

The first three LEGO® snake species represented dangerous, venomous varieties.

In 2015, the LEGO® Group produced one of the most recognized snakes in the world: the cobra. What actually constitutes a “cobra” snake varies depending on who you talk to. However, most classic cobra snakes fall into the genus Naja, and there are around 20 species in that genus. Cobras have long been a favorite in the controversial snake charming industry. Consequently, it comes as no surprise that the first LEGO® cobra came in Minifigures Series 13 along with the Snake Charmer character. Subsequently, the same cobra mold appeared in the Build-A-Mini tower at the LEGO® Store. However, it has never appeared in any sets.

The evolution of the LEGO® snake includes a cobra.

Finally, the latest in the LEGO® snake collection arrived in 2018. Interestingly enough, it came from the Harry Potter collectible Minifigures Series in the form of Nagini, available with the Voldemort character. Of course, Nagini is a terrifying serpent in Wizarding World lore, but not an actual snake species in reality. Based on descriptions in the book and visuals from the films, Nagini appears like a giant python. However, Nagini is also described as venomous, which pythons are not. With that said, the mold was used again to represent the mythical basilisk in the Hogwarts Castle microscale set. Nagini was olive green with black eyes, the basilisk version was simply sand green. The sand green version also appeared in the Build-A-Mini tower at the LEGO® Store.

Sand green python coloration was a step in the evolution of the LEGO® snake.
The basilisk from the Hogwarts Castle set was a recolor of the python-like Nagini mold. This snake also appeared in the Build-A-Mini tower at the LEGO® Store.

Even the latest and largest LEGO® snake represents a potential man-eater.

The same large snake mold resurfaced in 2021, again in olive green with black eyes. However, the new version also featured brown markings. It came in the City theme with set 60301, Wildlife Rescue Off Roader. Given the African theme of the set, one can assume it probably represents a rock python, which can grow up to six meters long. Of course, large constrictor snakes have been known to eat adult human beings in RARE instances. And films like Anaconda didn’t help.

The latest stage in the evolution of the LEGO® snake is something reminiscent of an African Rock Python.

It is World Snake Day, an event dedicated to bringing awareness to over 3500 snake species on Earth. Snakes play an important role in ecosystems, and even in your backyard. You can be sure if a snake lives in your yard, you’ll have less rodents. Additionally, here in Canada, most snakes are harmless. I would love to see the LEGO® Group stop spreading the narrative of all snakes being dangerous and scary. Perhaps its time to make some more wildlife biology sets where Minifigures aim to understand and study snakes. Maybe we can all help by building scenes in which LEGO® snakes are not the bad guys.

Until next time,


The evolution of the LEGO snake includes rock python-like species.

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