Happy Phantom Day! Celebrating the First Comic Superhero

Image via Wikipedia

The Phantom, aka The Ghost Who Walks, was created by Lee Falk and first published on the 17th of February 1936. Pre-dating Batman and Superman, The Phantom was the first fictional hero to wear the skintight costume synonymous with modern comic-book superheroes. In one form or another, The Phantom has continued to be published since its creation and is currently available in comic book form in Australia and many parts of Europe.

In Australia, the comic strip first appeared in 1936 in The Australian Women’s Mirror and, since 1948, it has been published by FREW Publications as an ongoing comic book series. Even today, it still has a cult following among an older demographic of fans. From the 1960s to the 1990s, many young Australian comic readers first encountered The Phantom via the inclusion of the comic in showbags at the local Royal Agricultural Shows. Showbags started as free sample bags to promote a product or company and have morphed into bags of promotional material for products, TV shows, sports teams, musicians, toys and any number of other items. Now that the showbags are no longer free, distribution companies have been known to pad the contents with things like comics, novelties, and confectionaries.

For many people in Australia over 40, The Phantom was a major part of their childhood pop culture—in much the same way DC or Marvel heroes are to younger generations today. To this end, as the AFOL community has grown in size, it is not surprising to find The Phantom represented among the MOCs at Australian LEGO fan shows. This is an overview of some of those builds and the passionate Phantom Phan (fan) builders.

Aaron Amatnieks

The phantom by aaron Amatnieks

Lifetime Phantom Phan and recognised locally as an innovative builder, Aaron was perhaps the first person in Australia to represent The Phantom in LEGO parts. Back when he built his MOC, dark purple was a relatively new colour in the LEGO palette and had a limited range of parts, so his only real option was to build it out of purple parts. Though small in size, The Phantom head was easily recognisable and very popular among the attendees of Brickvention 2010.

Aaron has also been known to hide a minifig of The Phantom among his other builds as a personal Easter Egg.

The phantom by narelle hampe

Narelle Hampe

As an enthusiastic fan and collector of The Phantom for over 40 years, Narelle Hampe was relatively new to building with LEGO when she built her small diorama and mosaic in 2016. Its size was restricted by her limited collection of parts and the lack of an official figure of The Phantom. She was able to compromise by using a minifig of the Joker and placing him in the skull cave in such a way that you could only see his purple legs. Given the limited range of parts available to her at the time, she found the skull cave to be particularly challenging and has considered rebuilding it with different parts in the future.

Trevor Clark

mufti day by dick frizzell as a mosaic by trevor clark

Well known in the local Phantom Phan community, one of Trevor Clark’s very first MOCs in 2019 was a recreation of New Zealand artist Dick Frizzell’s work Mufti Day as a LEGO mosaic. The artwork features The Phantom and his undercover persona, Mr Walker.

Those familiar with The Phantom as the hero in a purple suit will notice the use of a different colour in the design. For historical reasons, The Phantom’s suit colour has varied in different parts of the world and this colour represents one of the ones used in New Zealand. Trevor has recently modified the mosaic to include the Skull Mark and Good Mark associated with The Phantom.

In 2022, Trevor built The Phantom Bust based on the 10018 Darth Maul UCS sculpture. Modifying the set was incredibly challenging as it was not the straight colour swap Trevor had hoped it would be when he first conceived the idea. A considerable amount of redesigning and rebuilding was required and compromises were made as the deadline for Brickvention approached.

the phantom bust by trevor clark

phantom country by trevor clark

Inspired by Narelle Hampe’s build from 2016, Trevor created his Phantom Country diorama in 2023. This captures many of the elements featured in the world of The Phantom, including the Deep Woods, the Whispering Grove, the Misty Mountains, the Golden Beach of Keela-Wee with the House of Jade, the Castle in the Air, and the Skull Cave. A custom minifig of The Phantom helped set the scene along with Hero the horse, Devil the wolf and other animals featured in the comic book.

Skull cave by trevor clark

More recently at Brickvention 2024, Trevor exhibited a set of ten minifig habitats featuring the inside of The Phantom’s Skull Cave. Rooms featured include the treasure rooms, the radio room, the crypt, a bedroom, a dining room, a costume room, a library, the vault of missing men, and The Phantom’s skull throne. Along with the custom-printed figure of The Phantom, Trevor created minifigs of The Phantom’s wife, Diana, and their children, Kit and Heloise. Hardcore fans of The Phantom may recognise the Lyre of Homer and Excalibur amongst the items in the major treasure room. The costume room also includes a nod to the variation in colour of The Phantom’s outfit in different parts of the world.

Jacen Carpenter

Defenders of the earth by jacen carpenter

Jacen Carpenter is notable at Australian LEGO Fan exhibits for exhibiting his extensive collection of custom-built BrickHeadz. As part of his display, he has included the team of characters from the animated TV series, Defenders of the Earth, which featured The Phantom, Mandrake the Magician, Flash Gordon and Lothar. The Phantom’s suit is a lighter coloor in the animated TV series, and this caused a few issues when Jacen was trying to create the character as a BrickHeadz figure. He’s considering building The Phantom from Phantom 2040 as a Brickheadz for a future challenge.

The Phantom bust by gary


Gary has been incredibly prolific with his inclusion of The Phantom in his MOCs. Ranging from minifig habitats for the local LUG MOC competition to MOPS and the recent MUGs Gallery collab build at Brickvention 2024, Gary has found a way to include the character in many of his LEGO creations. Until his recent acquisition of a custom printed minifig, Gary has been using a minifig of Calculator from The LEGO Batman Movie to represent The Phantom.

His most well-known work is his multi-award-winning large build, The Phantom Bust, as exhibited at Brickvention 2022. Starting with the belt buckle, it was a labour of love for Gary during the endless lockdowns in Melbourne. Ultimately, it took a couple of years, several rebuilds, and a lot of money to complete. The initial design was constructed digitally in Stud.io and then free-built for the sections that didn’t quite work in the digital format. A modified, shorter version of the build, featuring just the head and shoulders, was recently exhibited at Brickvention 2024. He has already started planning his next build related to The Phantom.

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Happy Phantom Day!

All of the builders featured in the this article share a passion for The Phantom that has lasted many decades. They are all keen to engage others in conversation about one of their favourite characters, and it’s a delight to see their eyes light up when someone recognises The Phantom in their build. Overhearing many of the conversations that follow, it’s clear that The Phantom still holds a special place in the hearts of many Australians and will continue to be featured in MOCs for many years to come.

Did we miss any other MOCs based on The Phantom? Let us know in the comments below.

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