Watch your toes when you take a paddle on ForlornEmpire‘s brick-built beach — there are crabs about! The little red beastie looks great as he emerges from the water. Mixel-eye tiles mounted on minifigure buckets make effective eye stalks and add a heap of character — something that can be tough to achieve in single-colour models. The surrounding shoreline is perfect — simple and clean, with just enough detail to create a clear context without distracting attention from the crab itself.
I’m working through some old DVR recordings to clear them out before the Olympics, and today I’ve been watching Planet Earth II. This reminds me of the Christmas Island red crab, which lives on land most of its adult life, but must return to the ocean to breed. Some 50 _million_ of the little critters go scurrying off through the jungle to get some action, but now there’s an invasive species called the “yellow crazy ant” that forms supercolonies and is fiercely territorial. If a crab wanders past their nest, they’ll spit acid in its eyes and mouth, often resulting in the crab wandering off to die. This has resulted in an estimated population drop of 15-20 million.
Sounds terrible, right? Ah, but wait. Not mentioned in the documentary is that from the time Europeans first discovered the island in 1615 until the 20th century, nobody who visited the island though this locust-like plague of crabs was worth mentioning. Turns out, in 1903, the indigenous Maclear’s Rat went extinct, probably from diseases introduced by stowaway European rats, and it’s believed that the rats used to keep the crabs in check.