Introducing Minifigures On Parade: a modular minifigure diorama format

It’s the LEGO Group’s 90th anniversary, and I think it is time we hold a parade. Get our minifigures out onto the streets, or the paths and roadways, and bring them together. But how?

In the past, I have based building challenges on an 8x8x8 Minifigure Habitat standard. This format has taken on a life of its own, with regular challenges run on instagram by @brickfambuilds, while others such as @cazmockett and @troublesbricking have worked on series of habitats using monochromatic minifigures.

Life, The Universe and Everything by Toubles Bricking/Dana Knudsen
Monofigure Habitats: The Whole Stack
Monofigure habitats by Caz Mockett

While the habitat format is great for creating a space for a single mini figure, it is less easy to fit 2 or more minifigures into the format.

On the other hand, there are other building stadards that work well for community collaboration such as MILS – Modular Integrated Landscape System. But at 32×32 studs for a basic module, the modules become quite parts intensive, and indeed can take a while to fill with appropriate detail..

Micropolis, with its 16×16 modules is another popular format for community builds, but does not really allow for models to be made at minifigure scale.

Minifigures on Parade: An 8×16 Modular Platform

I have been looking at an alternative format: I call it MOPs – Minifigures on Parade. Alternatively, those figures might be on Patrol, Pilgrimage or other Planets.

Like MILS or micropolis – the module consists of a sandwich of plates, on either side of a one brick border. Measuring 8×16 studs, the area is not too onerous to fill. The sole landscaping detail is that the central 8×8 stud region is raised by one plate compared with the outer regions. You can decorate the modules however you like, taking into consideration that the module should attach easily to other, with consistent visual lines: the front and back edges should be no more than one plate different from the adjacent module, unless they are designed to be part of a continuous landscape.

Bringing it all together

To make this a community build, we need to be able to link the modules together. Nothing provides a consistent, modular joining location quite like technic pin holes – front and back, I use locations 2 and 14 (between the 2nd and 3rd studs in from either end). While in the middle, I use positions 3 and 5 (or between studs 3 and 4 from the front and back)

Once joined up, the central path takes on a consistent location.

The Technic pins can also be used to provide a frame: I place half pins/technic studs into the holes, and then use these studs to support plates, wrapping around the modular, or display, hiding any significant discrepency in construction of the bases.

Use plates to wrap up the unsightly insides of the module.

Now, we dont all have buckets of large technic bricks close to hand. Here is the equivalent base done in regular bricks with 1×2 technic bricks only at the connection points.

Of course, the final finish of the build is not too critical: Tiles or plates (studded): its your call, as are any other elements involved in crafting the landscape. So long as the terminal height of the modules are in keeping with the standard.

I’d like to acknowledge the support and counsel of Caz Mockett, Dana Knudsen, Dave Schefcik, Sue Ann Barber, Simon Day and Jen from @Brickfambuilds in the development of the modules.

Choose Your Biome.

What will you build? Minifigures on parade? Minifigures on Patrol? or something similar (but different)

I have been playing with a few simple models over the last few weeks, while knocking the format into shape.

These knights have been on patrol! the road is littered with leaves and gravel, and is quite uneven. That said, the edge of the module fits in with the next quite nicely.

Eight studs is not a long distance, and only the smallest of vehicles will fit into a module.It is important to minimise overhang into adjacent modules.

Here we have an intrepid space explorer: his spacecraft is almost as big as we can bearto try and fit in this module:

Of course, the specification for the ground and road only applies to the height on the front and back edge. It is quite reasonable to go a little up or even down!

And of course, a scene which tells the story of a journey of some sort is likely to be fairly well received. I am grateful that Dorothy and her Friends were included in the LEGO Movie 2 CMFs.

There are a couple of caveats:

There are a couple of pitfalls and questions that I have encountered while experimenting with this platform.

  • While a detailed module can look fantastic on its own, placing several detailed models sie by side can look quite cluttered. A less cluttered module can be just as successful, especially if runnig side by side.
  • it is important to avoind overhang, as it can interfere with the contents of the adjacent module. Less important if you are designing a series to lay down together
  • at this point, I am still experimenting with base colours: should a more consistent colour scheme be used between bases of a similar theme?

Give it a go…

And so… while this format is developed, I would love you to give this format a try: create some modules, and share them on social media using the tag #ramblingmops. the 16×8 module offers more space that a minifigure habitat, but comes with a different set of challenges.

If you have questions, or suggestions for making this standard work, why not put them in the comments below: I’d love to delevop a FAQ page – but first I will need some questions…

The LEGO Group’s 90th Anniversary celebrations are well underway, and I will be announcing a building challenge along this theme, using this format very soon. Until then…

Play Well.

5 thoughts on “Introducing Minifigures On Parade: a modular minifigure diorama format

  1. As usual, a very well thought out & explained concept – I’m blown away by the number of monochromatic colors that have emerged since your original post, makes me realize, just how many I ‘don’t’ have, & I appreciate the naming of the colors, helps a novice like me to be able to identify what’s what.

  2. so simple. i love a collab with a low barrier to entry. we’ve suggested this as our LUG’s monthly build challenge for August. hoping we have photos to share in a month or so.

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