Thestals, those dark, evil looking horsies, which it turns out are quite gentle. They are one of the fascinating magical creatures introduced by J.K. Rowling. They feature unknowingly to us, already in The Chamber of Secrets when the horseless carriages take the students to Hogwarts from Hogsmeade station. It is not until the Order of the Phoenix we learn they are pulled by Thestrals, horselike creatures invisible to most. Let’s have a quick look at them in the LEGO Harry Potter universe.
Thestrals in LEGO
The third version of the Hogwarts castle released by LEGO in 2007 (set 5378) coincided with the release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
In addition to Professor Umbridge (as a key person in that book – see her office recreated in LEGO here), one of the highlights was that it came with two Thestrals, built from LEGO Skeleton horses – with black bat-type wings added.
As such, it fits quite well with the description in Pottermore, where Thestrals are described as black, skeletal, bat-winged horses.
The 2007 version of the Thestral wasn’t bad in my view, with the designer doing a decent job with the LEGO elements available already.
In 2018, we saw a new version with a brand new mould created particular for the thestral and thus more accurate to the movie version (noting that the Thestral came with the Fantastic Beast set 75951, rather than a Harry Potter set).
2018 era Thestral
In the early books and movies, we learnt that horseless carriages were taking the students from Hogsmeade to Hogwarts and most probably assumed that was through magic rather than thinking they were pulled by invisible creatures.
In the Order of the Phoenix, arriving at Hogsmeade for the start of his fifth year at Hogwarts, Harry Potter spots the Thestrals and points them out to Ron Weasley, and realises that Ron cannot see them.
Overhearing the conversation, and sensing his desperation, Luna Lovegood assures him what he sees is real, that she also can see them and that he is just as sane as she is. Given Luna’s odd habits and beliefs, this does not completely reassure Harry.
Later in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry meet Luna in the Forbidden Forest feeding the Thestrals and she tells him more about them.
Luna: “They’re called Thestrals. They’re quite gentle, really… But people avoid them because they’re a bit…“
Harry: “Different. But why can’t the others see them?”
Luna: “They can only be seen by people who’ve seen death.“
In the photo above I’ve updated the wings to articulate better, allowing it to pose better as per photos below.
in 1996, Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, Ginny Weasley, Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood were flying on Thestrals from the Hogwarts’ herd all the way from Hogwarts in Scotland to the Ministry of Magic in London after Harry thought Sirius Black was in danger (see the post about the battle of the Ministry of Magic here). For Hermione, Ron and Ginny that must have been a word experience being unable to see their mounts.
Later, during the Battle of Hogwarts, the hippogriff Buckbeak lead the herd of Thestrals attacking the giants in Voldemort’s army.
Fun fact: The magical core of the Elder Wand is a tail hair from a thestral, “a powerful and tricky substance that can be mastered only by a witch or wizard capable of facing death.”