The latest series of collectable minifigures was released on September 1st, and I was fortunate to be sent a box by the LEGO Group’s AFOL Engagement team for review.
This is the third set of Collectable minifigures released this year, after the LEGO Movie 2, as the Second series of Disney minifigures. I am now starting to wonder if the pattern was established in 2017 is now to be considered the norm: several licensed sets, and one set…now numbered for the year.
The New Normal: 3 series per year, only one unlicenced?
We had 3-4 sets in 2016: Series 15, Disney 1, Series 16 and the German Football team. The following year we had LEGO Batman Movie, Series 17 and LEGO Ninjago movie. In 2018 we saw LEGO Batman Movie, Series 2; Series 18 and the Wizarding World/Harry Potter series. So I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that next year we will have Series 20, and two other series. Perhaps one will be related to the Olympics; perhaps an all stars theme (Bill and Mary – 6000 Ideas Book)/classic castle/pirates and or perhaps a second series related to Harry Potter or TLM2. What do you think?
What’s in the box?
But, lets have a look at this set: In this box we have three rows of 20 – a slightly lighter lime green than that used with series three. With sixteen figures in the set, there are three complete sets: A welcome return to form after Series 18, Wizarding World and Disney, with their manufactured chase figure incompleteness. (or crazy duck overload)
My box arrived slightly unsettled in transport, so I will not attempt to produce that all boxes have the same location of figures. I did not find a complete set in any column, however.
The packet is again stamped with evidence of being packed in the Czech factory- continuing the pattern we have seen this year. Previously, blind bags were labelled as being produced in China. Now elements are labelled as being produced all over the world (Week 24, 2019).
Each figure has something special about it, but there is no doubt that the formula of Minifigures parts and 2 accessories is no longer being as diligently followed as it once was. So as we browse through the series, let us consider some of the clever advances: multicolour molding of elements, printing on arms and legs; torso printing on new or old robots; fluorescence and call backs to the past. And so forth.
Torso printing we have previously looked at. Older robots – mainly in Europe, and Mexico – placed a dot of contrasting colour on the front of a Minifigure’s neck, so that after printing, the arms would be attached in the right direction. Newer robots – predominantly in China – can identify the front of the minifigure from the printed pattern, and no marking is required. Likewise, no marking is required if the torso is unprinted.
Given that this is the first generic series of minifigures since 2017 (as the 2018 series were all geared towards the 40th Birthday of the minifigure), the style seems more inconsistent that it has previously. This is not intended as a complaint or criticism, more as an observation. As we wander through, I hope you will see what I mean.
But lets have a wander through the series.
Video Game Champ
There are 5 of this green haired guy in the box. His bright green hair fluoresces under UV light, and is dual moulded with the black head set. His double sided face features both a happy smile and a disdainful look. There is a print alignment mark. I get the feeling he is a space fan: His Jacket has the logos for classic space, M-Tron and Blacktron II printed on, front and back. His trousers feature a silver belt and a classic 8-bit video game alien. His Play-Box Space Game features the cyborg from Series 16, and is printed on a 2×3 tile, while he also has a detailed game controller – certainly an upgrade from the previous gamer.
There are only 3 of this figure in the box. He has a medium azur scrubbing brush and a green rubber duck. The first time in this colour. His wrap around towel, with a duck print, fluoresces under UV light. Thankfully the rest of him doesn’t. Unlike previous naked male torsos, this one is just an average guy: no 6 (or even 8) pack. He has a happy smile on one side, and an embarrassed grimace on the other. There is a printing alignment mark. His elements come in an inner plastic bag, while the towel is outside. If you remove the towel, you can see some strategic bubbles printed on this upper legs…
There are four of this retro re-imagining of the 90’s classic Fright Knights to be found in this box. With a bat embossed shield and detailed breast plater, you already feel like you are getting a little more than with the previous figures. This is the first time we have seen this particular sword design in a tranparent pale blue. Quite ethereal. Combined with the mint coloured head and hands, the character looks quite creepy. The helmet has a fixed face grill, and reminds us what we have been missing out on, with no regular castle theme, over these last few years. There is also a transparent plume set in the top. Remove his breastplate and we see a magnificent coat of chain mail. The detail here is incredible and adds a level of unexpected delight to this figure.
Journey to the West is a classic legend in Chinese Culture. In Australia, people of a certain age might remember this character (albeit in a different form) from the Japanese television series ‘Monkey’ that was screened on the ABC during the 1980’s. But all the details are there: the stave ( featuring 2 gold light sabre handles and a red bar; cauldrons, dual printing on the arms (Dark red and pearl gold), and legs (dark red and black). He features the most detailed torso printing that I have seen for some time. His double sided head print features the gold headband used by Tripitaka to discipline the rambunctious Monkey. One side looks a little mischievous, while the other looks more focussed, ready for action. He has a helmet type head piece which is dual moulded in tan and medium nougat. He has no alignment mark on his neck. His cape is designed in such a way that it enhances the illusion of motion. A red ribbon that insets into the top of his head enhances this effect. Interestingly, while the dark red, and red fabric fluoresces, the red pauldrons, bar and ribbon do not, which is contrary to what we have come to expect with red elements in collectible minifigure sets. This figure has a level of detajlabove all others in the series.Like shower guy, the figure is packed in a clear poly back, with the cloth external to this. I can see several advantages: the cloth does not get crumpled by the additional elements, and the additional crinkling you hear when feeling the bag tells you not to just slash brutally into it with a pair of scissors…
There are four programmers in each box. She features a tall, dreadlocked hair piece. Wearing round framed glasses, she has a happy smile on one side, and a raised eyebrows ‘Ahah’ kind one expression on the other. She has no alignment mark printed on her neckOn her black torso, there are some creases printed on the back, a silver necklace and a series of 4 binary codes, coinciding with the good old fashioned ASCII codes for the letters L E G and O. I think that are trying to tell us something. Her arms are dual moulded – black and yellow; and her legs are dual moulded red and dark stone grey. There is additional printing to suggest that she has a red flannel checked shirt tied around her waist. The red fluoresces under UV light.She comes with a small, brick built robot, built around the core of an overwatch pistol, with the most amusing printed 1×1 brick for a head. She comes with a white laptop computer. This has appeared in both black and purple previously, and now we have it in white. If her robot was slightly larger, you might almost expect this figure and accessories to feature in a poly bag, rather than a collectable minifigure!
Ancient Egypt has featured in the Collectable minifigures since the very first series, and there are 5 copies of the Mummy Queen included in the box. This figure features lots of gold printing on the headdress, head, detail on the torso and on the legs. There is an alignment mark on the neck. There is a double sided head: one side suggests a golden death mask, frequently created when the rulers of ancient Egypt moved on to the afterlife, and the other a grotesque, decaying face. The use of spring yellowish green ink for the eyes enhances the horror. The headdress is predominately medium turquoise/teal. The torso printing is extremely detailed, including a scarab decoration around her neck. The arms are printed with details of bandages, golden arm bands and teal wrist bands. Her legs are dual moulded, with dark tan forming a skirt over the white of the bandages. She comes with a pearl gold scorpion element, just the thing you need for protection in the afterlife.
Overall, it is one of the most impressively printed figures I have ever seen. However, with so much going on, I almost felt overwhelmed by the level of detail shown here. Perhaps that’s just me!
In 1996, The Adventurers theme began, featuring Johnny Thunder. Johnny had a distinctive look, with his Tan shirt, ropes over his shoulder and red scarf, he explored Egytian ruins, Amazonian rain forests and Dino Island, before returning to explore the Orient. His shirt is a little darker than previously seen, his hat has flattened out and his gun seems to have vanished from his belt. Otherwise he seems very similar to the older figure. right down to sideburns and the cleft in his chin. There is an alignment mark on his neck. He now has a (functioning) magnifying glass, as he explores the jungle,which is pretty cool, as well as a dual molded backpack. He encounters a bright green chameleon with printed marks on his back. We find four of him in a box.
There are only 3 fire fighters in the box. Her helmet is dual moulded with cool light yellow hair. The red helmet does not fluoresce. She has a double sided face, with a worried expression on one side, as well as a ‘shout’ on the other side. Her torso has great front and back printing, with lots of reflective silver detail. She also has reflective detail printed on her wrists and legs. She has a megaphone, with the fire brigade logo on the side. I feel this seems more like a deluxe city figure rather than a Collectable. Perhaps she seems a little nicer printed than other fire fighters this year, but frankly doesn’t feel that special. I wonder if she is a character in the upcoming LEGO City Adventures animated series recently debuted on Nickelodeon.
Where the previous figure felt a bit ho-hum, this one is almost over the top. We get 3 in the box. Our dog walker has a printed cap, dual moulded with nougat coloured hair. Her double sided head has a happy expression, as any young person walking dogs might have, as well as a look of disgust, as she is confronted with the harsh reality of the situation. There is no neck alignment mark. She is wearing medium blue overalls, printed onto her white torso. Her arms and legs are both dual moulded, and the legs feature a little bit of printed detail as well.
But this is the dull part of the figure. There are two, yes two, dogs: a white French Bulldog, similar to the tan one seen in in series 17, and a reddish brown daschund, with a stud in the middle of his back. But that’s not all. This bag also contains two pieces of dog poo, as well as a green shovel for the dog walker to use as she cleans up after her charges. Of course, it might just be chocolate soft serve ice cream, but that could be hard for some fans to stomach.
Pizza Costume Guy
There are some jobs in this world that only a student can do, and dressing up as a slice of pizza, handing out promotional leaflets is one of them! There are 4 of these guys in the box, and the pizza element is a recovering of the watermelon from The LEGO Movie 2 set. He has a green, unprinted torso, and red pants with a green and white halequin style check. His pants fluoresce under UV. His only accessory is a 2×3 printed tile. On it, we see a slice of pizza, and what appears to be a cheese covered something surrounded by chips. I wonder if it could be Franchesina, a Portuguese dish featuring meat, cheese, sausage, cheese, chorizo, cheese, hame cheese and cheese, with an optional egg. That or possibly a parma. Whatever it is, he seems to recognise the desperate situation he has found himself in, and is really only doing it so that he can buy something to eat. Maybe his employers will help him.
Galactic Bounty Hunter
The third retro revamp in this set, after the Fright Knight, and Jungle Adventurer, the bounty hunter features the Blacktron 2 logo, being featured for the second time in this series. You can build an army, with five present in every box. With his face hidden inside the life support helmet, who would have thought that this mysterious bounty hunter was In fact a blue faced alien. The neck has an alignment mark. Nothing fluoresces under UV. There is some magnificent silver detail print both back and front, as well as on the legs. In another retro flashback, the shoulder pads scream 1980’s. The bounty hunter carries a double barrelled pistol, and a wanted poster – requesting that a fugitive be brought in Built or Broken.
This retiree, with a lavender head piece features a single sided face, with bifocals sliding down her nose. There is no printed alignment mark, and the violet torso has pink flowers printed on front and back. the arms are dual moulded, and her hands are lime green, I presume simulating garden gloves. She has magnificent leopard print (on Azur) legs. As far as accessories are concerned, she comes with some bright green foliage, and a flamingo. If this a real flamingo, or just a lawn ornament? I presume the latter, as there is only one, black leg. The pink body and neck of the flamingo is made of a more rubbery material, while the black leg appears to be ABS. None of the materials here fluoresce. I am sure some will find this figure, with the Pink Flamingo to be just Divine…
In less than 2 weeks, the 2019 Rugby World Cup gets underway in Japan. It is only fair that a rugby player gets a guernsey, in a timely fashion. There are 4 players in the box. Our player has a dark green helmet, and a double sided head print: one side ready to go and the other a little worse for wear, with a black eye and teeth missing!. He has dual moulded arms and a printed jumper. The legs feature printed socks and legs. The ball comes with the worlds ‘Rugby Supreme’ printed on, and can be held onto by a bar to grip on the back. Interestingly, the green on his upper arms does fluoresce.
Fox Costume Girl
This foxy lady appears three times in a box, and continues the series of minifigures dressed up as animals. This lady has a double sided face, licking her lips on one side, and with a sly smile on the other. The printing is relatively simple, with a pale patch on her chest, and another on her face. Her black ears appear to be moulded in that colour.she has a rubber tail, and dual moulded bright orange/black legs (with no printing.) The orange of the figure fluoresces under UV, although the tail does not. She comes with a dark tan sack, and a tan chicken. These are new colours for these parts.
Bear Costume Guy
There are 4 Bear costume guys in the box. This must be a close attempt to make something like a Care Bear, but without the awkward IP infringement. He has a vibrant coral headress, with bright yellowish orange and dark Azur ears. He has a smile on one side and a cautious, shy expression on the other. The white torso has a vibrant coral right sleeve, flame orange left sleeve, and a rainbow, with a heart pattern printed on. The legs are BYO and medium azure, with vibrant coral hips. he carries a vibrant coral hears, with a quarter circle tile with a rainbow printed on. The coral aspects of the costume fluoresce. there is no neck alignment mark.
There are 3 mountain bikers in the box, and this one also feels more like a poly bag than a collectable. Our rider looks incredibly dynamic in her vibrant coral top, azure bike shorts, green bike shoes. She has dual moulded arms and legs. Her helmet is also dual moulded with her hair. There is no neck alignment mark on the neck. Her face confuses me a little, however. With her sunglasses on, she looks cool and calm, but take them off and she looks like she’s riding to win. Except I expect in that suggestion, id rather be wearing eye protection. The bag also includes a blue mountain bike – new in this color – with flame orange wheel hubs. She features additional detailed printing on her legs (stripes, and knee pads, as well as a stick plaster on her left elbow. This is one of my favourites, but I wonder whether or not it should be part of this set, as such. The vibrant coral and flame yellowish orange both look great under UV.
In the past, we have seen some sets overflowing with fluorescing elements – particularly red – but this set seems relatively sedate in comparison. In the past, there are some elements I would have particularly expecting to fluoresce: the fire chief’s helmet; Monkey King’s pauldron and stave. Possibly also the bright green botanical elements. Here is a line up of all the characters including fluorescing elements, with and with our UV. No doubt, the vibrant coral makes a significant contribution here.
I certain think the series has something to offer everyone. One thing that is worth commenting on is that this is the first series of collectable minifigures to have an even gender mix. This is worth commenting on, as back in 2011, female representation in City sets was around 10%; and in the early CMF sets, around 25-30%. It has taken a while, and many of the licensed sets will not have the same advantage as far as source material is concerned.
I found the overall tone for the series less coherent than for previous series. I feel every figure is pretty good, and some are downright excellent. The theme or category for the figures is consistent with previous themes. But the accessories are inconsistent.
In the past, a CMF bag was fairly predicable in its contents: it might or might not have dual moulded arms or legs; four figure elements, and two accessories (of which one or two might be a tale or cape). But this series is far less predicable. Here we have some figures relatively poorly equipped: The fire chief; Mummy queen and rugby player all have only one accessory. So does pizza guy (but I figure the costume makes up for this, in part.)
The previous formula seems to be followed by Video game guy, Shower guy, the retiree; Foxy costume Girl, and Bear costume person.
The others feel generously equipped, with some feeling that they would have gone well in a full on poybag – including Monkey King; the Programmer and the Mountain Bike rider.
I find this unevenness a little confusing. If I get to the box early, and picked out a mountain bike, I’d feel like I got much better value than, for example, the first fighter or rugby player. It will be interesting to see what happens in the secondary market in the future.
Are we on the verge of reaching peak CMF? Will we see a series past 20? I expect we will. But what will we see? I’m sorry the chance was missed here for a Special Pirates 30th Anniversary sub theme – 3 or 4 figures could have been pretty special here. However, there are certainly some great figures.
As for my favourites? It is probably a toss up between the Monkey King and Mountain Bike rider. Both are terrific for multiple reasons. My least favourite? Possibly fire fighter – because it feels much like a regular City character; or Mummy Queen. As beautiful as artwork is, it feels like too much is going on, for me.
What’s your favourite? Why not leave a comment below, and put on your thinking caps: I have a couple of sets of Series 19 minfigures to give away, thanks to the LEGO Group, and there may well be some other great prizes: I’ll post more about this over the weekend. Put your thinking caps on: there will be a building challenge coming up.
The Series 19 Minifigures are on sale now, from your local retailers or LEGO.com.
Until next time,
My box of Series19 minifigures was sent to me by the LEGO Group’s Adult Engagement team. All opinions are my own.