In which we try to tie up the loose ends, identify our heroes, and after one thing leads another, discover something we never set out to.
For almost a year, now, I have been exploring the potential for ongoing adventures of Mary and Bill – these minifigures first appeared in the 6000 Ideas Book, published in time for Christmas 1979. We started off looking at the 6000 Ideas Book itself, covering the story set in the town, and then the weird space bit, along with the Castle bit.
I asked a Big Question: Could Mary and Bill still be found in the world of LEGO City today? For characters to survive nearly 40 years, we would need to be confident that we see story telling occurring within the in-house themes, that characters see development over the course of years, and that they have the potential to cross themes, as Bill and Mary did in the book, and indeed would need to to move from Book characters to LEGO City.
We found evidence of characters developing over the year, and multiple years in LEGO City. We then moved on to looking at the way that characters might move between themes – finding examples in Adventurers and Studios; Power Miners and Atlantis as well as Galaxy Squad and Ultra Agents. We also Considered Timmy – moving from Time Cruisers to Free Style to World City.
We looked at the evidence we have for Bill and Mary existing beyond the 6000 Ideas Book: exploring the other Ideas Books, LEGO Town and finally the Comic strip ‘Captain Indigo’ from the Bricks sand Pieces magazine, running through until 1989.
And now the time has come. We have established some rules for considering our proposition: that long form story telling exists between LEGO Sets, and that characters will develop, and can potentially move between themes.
Today, we indulge in reckless speculation, and flights of fancy. Any results we achieve today are my own opinion. LEGO have not, to the best of my knowledge, had a single creative director in charge of story for the last 40 years.
The Final Quest: Where are Mary and Bill?
I already have suspicions as to where I should look for Mary and Bill, but I thought we should have a proper look. Selecting sets from LEGO City, Creator and Creator Expert, I looked for all of the white or grey haired minifigures, released between 2015 and 2019, and separated them according to gender.
To isolate candidates for Mary, I selected all of the women in that group that wore predominantly red and white. This rapidly whittled down my selection, and left me with one option.
For men, I looked at grey haired men, over a similar time period, with an emphasis on build and white shirt, with dark trousers.
This left me with 2 options. for Bill: one with vertical blue and white stripes a bow tie and a moustache; and the man from the beach, wearing a Hawaiin shirt – featuring a blue background, with white palm trees. Now, given advances in LEGO’s graphic design over the years, I could easily imagine that the dots on Mary’s shirt might have actually represented hibiscus flowers , or something similar. Or to go backward in time: previously the white trees might have been represented as white spots, on a blue background.
And given that blue, with white spots appears in the same set as red with white stripes, I would like to put forward the Crazy Fan Theory that these two figures are in fact Bill and Mary, with 40 years of living together behind them.
Which just leaves me with one question…
Who is the child that Mary is buying that outrageously priced Ice cream for? Too young to be her daughter, surely. Could it be a grandchild? I had a look in 2017-2018 for signs of that head element being used, and I found 2 probable examples. There might be other sets that she appears in, but I think these are the most likely…
Is she this child seen in the Creator Cruiser Adventures from 2018? If so, her mother has very similar taste in beach attire as her grandmother. Due to her hair colour, I suspect this is not the child, however, that we saw in Fun at the Beach, but is possibly another of Mary and Bill’s Grandchildren. I am also willing to suggest this the lady in this set is Bill and Mary’s Daughter, with her husband.
The other option is the child wearing a cap to LEGO Store. Boy or girl? I think they could be either. None of the available figures have a perfect hair match to the one seen in Fun at the Beach, so I am strongly suspicious of this child wearing a cap. And so, if this child is Bill and Mary’s granddaughter, how does her father fit into the bigger picture?
An Even Crazier Fan Theory.
I suspect this man looks slightly older to me than the lady in the Creator Cruiser set. I am happy to accept that he is a child of Mary and Bill. He is at the LEGO Store: he is inspired by his creativity, and wishes to Rebuild the World™. Plainly, he had some terrific inspiration while he was growing up. But was that all his parents, or was there an outside influence? I am also going to suggest that he is a millennial. Probably born in the late 80’s.
Justify your answer Rambling Brick!
OK: in the last few pages of the Captain Indigo comic, Polkadot/Mary appears less and less. With three pages to go, she is silent, and changes clothes; On the second last page, we get some obscured views of her, and she remains silent, almost hidden in the coach.
And she doesn’t even appear on the final page of the story. While we might just consider this to be past of the historical suppression of strong female characters in this period of history, was something else going on? Were the authors and artists covering up an advanced pregnancy? Was this child born around the middle of 1989, as the comic tale wrapped up for ever?
Now: allow a couple of years, and a younger sibling might be born – and reaches toddlerhood around the time the boy is around 8. Mary gets a friend from down the street to look after her son after school. This would be around the mid 90’s, when the most creative of LEGO Themes was introduced: Time Cruisers. Could the hero of this theme, young Timmy, be the child of Mary and Bill?
Timmy, would have been around the right age to be involved in these adventures: While Timmy in the Time Cruisers sets has long legs, the short leg mould didn’t exist for at least another 6 years. The freckles bely his childlike innocence. Perhaps Dr Cyber was looking after Timmy, while Mary was managing her young daughter?
There is no doubt that all of these sets promote creative building, as well as thinking outside the box. As such, they reveal Timmy’s parentage. Mary and Bill were never short of a creative building idea when they needed one. This kind of role modelling would have been invaluable.
Now, this Idea is all very fanciful. but is there any other evidence to support Mary and Bill being related to Timmy? I draw your attention to 4032, the World City Holiday Jet. Released in at least 13 different versions, for different airlines around the world, this surely a significant set. But then… Check out the cover. Now that we have short legs available, we have Timmy present, looking more youthful. Puberty has not quite hit. But we know it will.
Now you might say that those red pants and white torso are not enough of an argument for Mary to be the other minifigure on the box. I mean, her hair is a bit different.
Personally, I don’t think variations in hair style over 10 years are necessarily enough of a cause for excitement, especially when we consider that one of the first things we learned about Mary was that she likes to get her hair done…
So Fan Theory Number 2: Not only are Mary and Bill still alive and well and living in LEGO City, but Timmy from time Cruisers is their son, and has a child (seen in the LEGO Store, as well as Fun on the Beach. Timmy may also have a sister, happily married, with a daughter. Further details are not readily available at this time.
Of course, this just leaves us to speculate as to whether or not Timmy is currently married, and just who his partner might be. Hopefully, time will tell.
There are probably other ways that this story might have played out. I did find myself worrying that Bill and Mary might have split up at some point. However, I could not bear to consider a situation where they may not exist as a couple. And so I excluded that line of reasoning.
And so here I would like to present Bill and Mary’s Family tree, as far as I can work it out. We do not have all of the details at this stage, but based on the information we have gathered…
Now, could this be canon? Or just the deluded fantasy of a middle aged man, trying to relive his childhood? One of the great things about 6000 Ideas Book is that it told a story without words. And without words, you can write your own story. And so I have.
It’s a fun theory though! I hope you have enjoyed the ride, and don’t take my final conclusions too seriously. Unless you work in Billund, and know the actual story, in which case I’d love to know if I got anything right.
I hope you have enjoyed this prolonged exploration of story telling in LEGO sets, looking at the way characters are handles within and between themes, and ultimately, looking for childhood friends amongst the figures of today. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject – and I am happy to entertain alternate theories: why not share them in the comments below, and until next time…
Aspects of these theories were presented at Paredes de Coura Fan Weekend, 2019, and Brickvention 2020. Thank you to the organisers for a chance to celebrate this classic LEGO Book.