In which I look at the new Disney Collectable Minifigures, and come to the realisation that unlike previous series, this one (and the LEGO® Movie 2 minifigures immediately before it) was not produced solely in the Chinese LEGO® factory. How many figures does it effect? What is the deal with the inner bags? And finally, how many of the TLM2 figures were sourced from Europe? Curious? Read on…
LET ME TELL YOU A STORY. Last week, I teased my 71024 Series 2 Disney Minifigures Review. But there was something I had to go back and look at. Then I realised there was something else I had to go back and look at somewhere else. Now I have…
And now I realise that something about the Collectable Minifigures has changed forever. Or for a while, at any rate.
There is something that we have long taken for granted with collectable minifigures. “Components are made in China.” This is no longer necessarily the case!
I was fortunate to recently receive a sealed box of the second series of 71024 Disney Collectible Minifigures from the LEGO AFOL Engagement Team to look at. As I browsed through them, I saw something unexpected. On the back of each packet is a printed code: this identifies the week and year that the packet was sealed, as well as a letter code that reveals the factory that it was packed. One of my packs says 06S9 – Week six of 2019. Factory S. Based on information I have previously received, this would appear to be the factory in the Czech Republic. Other CMF packets that I have around the house are embossed with their code, rather than printed. Their factory code is ‘B’ – And as all product in those packs is identified as being produced in China, it is safe to presume that this is where they are packed. The full code on one from series 18 is 403B8. We know these figures came out in April 2018. as such I think we can presume that the code is probably dWWFY ie day 4, week 3, 2018 in the factory in China.
Why does this matter? Cosmically speaking, in the greater scheme of things, it probably doesn’t. The world will continue to turn, the seasons will change, and AFOLs will never be totally happy with everything they have. There is another label on the new packet: “Components made in Denmark, Hungary, Mexico, China and the Czech Republic.”
But is there something else?
As I unpacked my box, and unearthed my first complete series (more on that shortly), there was something a little different. On the front of the neck of several figures was a mark on the front of the neck. Now these marks have been around since 1979, when the first printed torsos appeared: my understanding is that they are used by robots in the Minifigure factories to identify the front of the torso – an important thing to know if you are not going to attach the arms in a backwards fashion, and confuse the impressionable youth of a generation.
These marks have been absent from collectable minifigures since they began. Rumor (and probably Fact) has it that the robots in the Chinese factory, where the CMFs have traditionally originated from, are a little more clever: they can recognise the print on front of the torso, and attach the arms correctly based on that. As such, CMFs have never featured these marks. OR have they?
Fortunately I have many of the standard CMFs around the house (But no Simpsons or Team GB/German Footballers), as well as series one of the Disney Figures. They all seem to have clean necks. Well almost all: there are a few with a mark on the neck, and that mark is rounder than we normally see with ‘normal’ minifigures. Those with the marks in S1 include Buzz Lightyear, Genie and Alice. These marks are not seen on regular Minifigures that do not have any torso printing.
Now Disney Series 2 features new packaging that was also seen with The LEGO Movie 2 Minifigures. I may not have noticed this at the time, because I purchased a complete series, removed from their packaging at a local retailer. Reviewing the packaging (sorry – none close to hand) showed that it is similar to that of the Disney Series 2. Containing components sourced from LEGO Factories around the world and a stamp featuring the Czech Republic factory code on the back.
The other interesting aspect of their packaging is that some figures come in sealed bags within the blinded bags. I have not been able to identify the unifying factors for the TLM2 figures (who, according to Whitefang over at Eurobricks included Crayon girl, Hula Lula, Swamp Creature, Dorothy Gale and Toto, and the Cowardly Lion – and possibly Kitty Pop), but it appears to be specifically for the figures that come with capes in the Disney series 2: Anna, Elsa, Hercules, Jafar and Jack Skellington
I now feel compelled to pull the heads off my TLM2 figures, as they were similarly packaged, and also packed in the Czech Republic, to see how they are set up…. we will do this after looking at the new figures.
Distribution of Figures
The distribution of figures in the box has been well reported ( and is consistent with what I found in mine), but for completeness, I’ll reiterate:
- 4 Mickey, Minnie, Chip, Dale, Frozone, Hades, Anna, Elsa, Scrooge McDuck
- 3 Hercules, Jafar, Jasmine, Sally, Jack Skellington, Edna Mode
- 2 Huey, Dewey and Louie!
I think these figures are good choices for having extras: there is no doubt as to the popularity of Frozen as a movie, and Mickey and Minnie, as well as Chip’n’Dale – having all of these duos available as extras is appealing, as is Frozone – who did not appear in any of The Incredibles sets.
I started thinking about the distribution in the box, and why they only included 2 sets of Huey, Dewey and Louie. – part of the implication of this is that there are only TWO COMPLETE sets in the box.
Let us imagine 3 sets of Ducklings in the box, as well as three Scrooge’s. Twelve of the figures in the box would be ducks or ducklings. Potentially difficult to discriminate in their blind bags, especially considering the torch and Slingshot for any mere mortals not honed their skills over the previous 28 series. Twelve ducks out of sixty figures (when we consider scrooge – so long as there are only 3) – makes one in five figures a duck ( or 20% of the box) 15% of the box would be ducklings. As it is, we have 4/15 chance of randomly drawing out a mouse (13.3%), and 1/6 chance of drawing out a duck (16.7%). That said, with Duck Tales appealing to a whole new generation, to say nothing of their older legacy, they will be popular characters to collect- and you can’t stop at just one…. (Fun fact: the nephew ducks date back to 1937, but only became consistently coloured in the 1980s). I’m not saying it’s right. More that I can understand the reasoning.
The Actual Figures…
So, Lets have a look at these figures. By now, you have probably read about which figures have which accessories, the hair type and the dual moulded limbs. I won’t gloss over this, but I will also highlight those that behave interestingly under UV light, as well as those with neck marks (to orient the torso for attaching arms) – or present with other clues that they may have been produced in European factories, rather than China.
Vintage Mickey and Vintage Minnie
This version of Mickey and Minnie debuted in Steamboat Willie, November 1928. The faces are slightly different to those seen in the first series of Disney CMFs. These minifigures were apparently being prepared for inclusion in this series, even before the Steamboat Willie set reached 10000 supporters. There was a feeling that something should be done to make that set’s figures a little special compared to the CMFs, and as such they have silver incorporated in their printing rather than grey/white seen here. You can read about this on the LAN Blog.
Mickey comes with a grey ship’s wheel (no longer exclusive to the Ideas set!), Minnie has a life preserver.
Both Mickey and Minnie’s both have dual leg moulds, equivalent to the black and white version of those seen in series one. with feet printed in white.They have unprinted black torsos, with black hands. They both have hats.
There are no directional indicators for the front of the torso to aid in arm positiotning, but we don’t expect these for unprinted torsos.
Huey, Dewey and Louis
Donald’s nephews debuted in 1937, in the theatrical short Donald’s Nephews…
These boys feature identical heads, unprinted torsos with white hands and a ‘tail feather’ similar to that seen with Donald and Daisy in series 1. The torsos do not feature a directional marker, but I would not expect one as they have no printing. These blank torsos are in fact true to form for the form seen in comics and TV.
Both their short legs and heads are dual moulded, with the orange fluorescing under UV, while the white is brighter than both the slightly rubbery tail feather insert, and their white hands.
They come with caps which attach via a pin onto their heads ( similar to the pin used for Friends’ hair accessories. In red, green and blue, they reflect the UV light, but do not fluoresce like other red elements produced in the Chinese factory used for minifigures and accessories.
Comparing the color of Huey with other red CMFs, he does not fluoresce in nearly the same way…Indeed, while the orange fluoresces slightly, it does not begin to compare with Kimono Girl.
The figures come with a few accessories: Huey has the Junior Woodchuck manual and a compass (or is it a page to go into the book). Dewey comes with a slingshot (in fact the ones I have opened have 2). Louie comes with a flashlight, made from a lightsaber handle and a trans yellow round 1×1 tile
Given the limited number of complete sets in a box I would like to think that Donald’s nephews might appear in a set together sometime soon. Perhaps a Duck Tales set? We can only hope.
Debut: Four colour Comics #178, December 1947 Christmas on Bear Mountain
Using a different head mould to Donald and Daisy – giving him glasses and whiskers, the venerable Uncle Scrooge has a 3L reddish brown stick, as well as a 10c coin (and spares of both). He has a black top hat with a pin attachment. this appears to be a new element. He has the same rubbery tale feather mold as the nephews, but it is printed blue around the edges, to disguise it between the printed blue torso and hips.
There is no directional mark on his neck, and the blue torso has a frock coat print, front and back. He has cuffs printed on his arms.
Scrooge’s legs feature front and side printing of his coat. They are dual moulded white and red (for his spats) with the orange of his feet printed on. Interestingly, this red fluoresces brightly under UV, almost looking bright orange. I suspect all of his major elements are produced in China.
The Chipmunks, Chip’n’Dale, debuted in a prototypical form in the 1943 animated short Private Pluto, but developed their ongoing form in 1947’s Chip An’ Dale. From the minifigure point of view, this is where things start to get really interesting.
Their heads have individual moulds: Chip in ReddishBrown/Brick yellow (tan) and Dale in Medium Nougat/Brick Yellow. Dale has moulded buck teeth and a printed red nose. Both have lots of printed facial details.
Their torsos feature front and back printing: similar prints on the front, and the reverse of each other on the back. They have the print on the front of the neck, which makes me suspicious that the torsos are assembled in one of the European factories.
They both feature unprinted mid length legs, in the same colours as their torsos: reddish brown, and medium nougat. this is the first time these legs have been available unprinted, after their debut in the Harry Potter CMFs last year.
Chip carries an acorn, made of an unprinted mandrake root, and capped with a round 1×1 plate with 3.2mmshaft in dark brown- the first time this part appears in this colour. Dale has a reddish brown sack.
Neither of these figures exhibit interesting behaviour under UV light.
Elsa and Anna
First appearing in 2013’s Frozen, these characters have both lived a previous life as minidolls in the Disney Princess Range. However, the rubbery hair moulds featured by both here are new in this range (Anna’s in Dark Orange, Elsa’s in cool yellow. At last appearing as minifigures, we can now use our medieval minifigures to populate Arundale.
All of the minifigure parts are presented in a sealed transparent plastic bag, with the base, capes and instruction leaflet outside that bag.
Both heads are dual sided, printed on light nougat/flesh. Elsa features silver eyeshadow, while Anna has the tiniest freckles. Both figures feature a wink on one side and smile on the other.
Anna has a soft, spongy cape in Bright Red Violet, while Elsa’s is a stiffer facbric in medium blue, featuring bright blue and silver metallic printing of a snowflake motif.
Both have exquisitely printed torsos front and back. Esla’s aqua arms feature additional detailing, while Anna’s arms have none. Both have the skirt element we saw introduced in 2018, and have great detailing on the front flat surface only.
Anna has a lantern, and Elsa has a large, Belville style trans light blue snowflake element.
Under UV Light, only Anna’s cloak demonstrates any reactivity.
Jafar and Jasmine
Appearing in Aladdin in 1992, these characters are about to make the transition to real humans on the big screen. Jasmine has previously existed as a minidoll, but this is Jafar’s first appearance as a LEGO figure.
Jasmine has a nougat head, arms and hands, and a single sided face print. Her torso is medium azure and with nougat printing on. Her arms are also printed. Her legs are medium azure, with limited printing on. She has a rubbery head piece, featuring an azure and gold headband, and is in fact the same hair piece used in her most recent minidoll incarnations.
Jasmine has a small bird as her companion.
She has no directional mark on her neck to guide arm placement, suggesting the torso comes from the Chinese factory.
Under UV Light, Jasmine’s arms light up subtly, but more than her head of the same colour or hands.
Jafar embraces the Grand Vizier aesthetic. Resplendent in dark red and black robes, his hat adds a whole brick’s height to him. His head has a double sided print: Scornful on one side and scheming on the other.. He has a red and black cape, as well as the ‘lower body robe’ element previously seen here with the Frozen characters. He carries a staff with a cobra on it, identical to that carried by King Tut in the Batman Movie 2 minifigures. He also has a black shoulder emphasis element!
Under UV, his dark red aspects all glow a slightly lighter red.
Hades and Hercules
Making their first appearance in 1997 in Hercules, this pair offer a few new aspects to the collections:
Hercules has a dual sided nougat head piece, featuring a bright orange hairpiece. His body is dark orange, with leather armour printed on front and back. His legs are dual moulded dark orange and nougat, and are printed on the front and sides. He has a bright blue cape. For accessories, he has a short sword and shield.
Hercules’ hair very obviously fluoresces under UV, while his nougat arms stand out slightly more than you might expect.
Hades has a transparent blue flame incorporated with his head, and a most peculiar expression! He features dual moulded, printed arms (light royal blue and dark blueish grey). His black toga lines up micely with his leg piece – a revamp of Ursula’s octopus legs from S1. Here it represents clouds of billowing smoke..He carries flames in trans fluro orange. It does what it says on the box!
Neither of these figures feature neck alignment marks.
Sally and Jack Skellington.
Released in 1993, The Nightmare Before Christmas was released under the Touchstone Pictures label, as Disney thought it might be a bit too scary , and alienate their audience. This is where we meet Jack Skellington, and Sally, his rag doll bride.
Jack has no hair, and a brilliantly designed face print…if not slightly grotesque. he has a wide, bat shaped bow tie. His torso, arms and legs are black and feature printed white pinstripes. He has a short ‘skirt’ attachment, which functions as the tails of his coat, and has a gift box, similar to the presents seen in series 18 CMFs. He comes with two designs of Snowflake.
There are no neck marks to be seen, and under UV he is mostly unremarkable, although the trans clear tiles do fluoresce with a blue tinge.
Sally is a little more complicated. She has a dual printed, patchwork aqua head. Her torso is nougat, with patches printed in multiple colours. Her legs are mismatched: Nougat/Aqua and Sand Green/Aqua. She carries a black flower on a black stem. She has long straight dark red hair, which feels firm, unlike Anna or Elsa’s. This dark red hair fluoresces under UV, appearing a bright red in that situation. She has no neck mark printed.
Edna Mode and Frozone
These two first appeared in The Incredibles in 2004, and reappeared in the 2018 sequel.
Edna features a flesh coloured, double sided had; a dark blue torso, with front and back printing, as well as one of our elusive arm alignment marks on the front of her neck. Her hair is a long black bob, incorporating her glasses and somewhat creepy stare…
She has short, black legs. As accessories, she carries a printed brief case/ folio and a cup of tea.
Frozone’s head is white, with a reddish brown face print – giving the impression of a balaclava.
His torso is white with medium azure printing and the arms are dual moulded medium azure and white. His legs are also dual moulded in the same colour scheme.
The figure comes with a medium stone grey 4×4 disc, with 2 studs in the middle. I am a little intrigued by this: I haven’t seen the element before, and the Element ID32827 doesn’t seem to appear in the current parts database. that said it has a copyright notice for 2016 on the base as well. It is not designed to sit flush on a plate, and is set up on an offset plate here, to give the illusion of levitation.
Frozone also comes with two trans clear Power Blasts. These are the only elements in the figures based on The Incredibles that fluoresce under UV.
Overall I find this collection quite interesting: some figures are elaborate, while others are quite plain, but in either case this suits the depiction of the characters in their respective film or television appearances. Overall it is quite strong. However, I am surprised that we have not yet seen Goofy or Pluto, and I am sure they would be perfect to include in the next series of Disney CMFs (although, technically, Pluto would not necessarily make the cut as a minifigure). There are other films from Classic and Modern era’s that could support figures: Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland; Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas and Mulan all containing potentially great candidates. Some of these films have been represented before, or in Minidoll form, but would well benefit from extension into the realm of future CMF releases.
I am intrigued by the move to pack these figures in the factory in the Czech Republic, as well as some of the torsos appearing to have been printed in factories other than the one in China.
All of the figures in this series that were double bagged came with capes packed out side the clear plastic bag. These figures also seem to have come from the Chinese factory. (as did several others) Also interesting (but perhaps not surprising) is the fact that the most elaborately printed torsos all originate from the Chinese factory.
I wonder if these moves to shift production and final packing to Europe have been designed to reduce the risk of leaking images of the completed figures before release – certainly I hadn’t seen as many images or as much discussion of the latest series prior to their release: BUT I hadn’t been looking too hard either. There will certain be logistical implications for shipping and storage of elements. I am sure that this is not a change that would have occurred without some significant consideration of the business case.
Series 1 of the Disney figures had a relatively limited availability: perhaps these new arrangements will make it possible to find these figures more widely? What did you think?
I promised a look at the LEGO Movie 2 Minifigures, with their heads removed: certainly most seem to have the arm alignment mark on the neck. Whether this is a distraction, or because the traditional factories were used for production, I am uncertain. There does not appear to be any consistency with regard to the country of origin and the inner sealed packet, so I am a little confused.
Wow! Most of these figures have the neck mark! Except for Watermelon dude and Crayon girl (who have no printing and therefore do not require it) and Gone Golfing’ President Business and Dorothy Gale (also Apocolyptic Benny and Kitty Pop- thank HC for the pointer). It leaves me intrigued: were all the other torso’s printed in the older European factories factories? Where were other elements sourced?
Hopefully we can get some answers soon… I’ll keep you posted.
What do you think of the new Disney figures? Who’s your favourite? I agree there are some notable absences, as well as the disappointment of only 2 complete sets in a box of sixty, but I would love to hear your thoughts. Leave your comments below, and be sure to follow the Rambling Brick to keep up to date with our news and take on the world of LEGO Bricks. Please feel free to share any articles with your friends or communities.
By the way, I plainly have too many figures left for my own use, so I will be announcing a competition soon for a chance to win a complete set, and for the two runners up to be able to win half a set each…come back on Sunday evening, when I shall post details of this competition.
Until next time,
As stated earlier, these minifigures were provided by the LEGO Group’s AFOL Engagement Team. Provision of materials for review does not guarantee a favourable review.