Minifigure40 II: To Make A Minifigure from Scratch, You Must first create the Universe

Mould prototypes_1976_1977_2To paraphrase the late Carl Sagan, To make a minifigure from scratch, you must first create the Universe. 

Let’s move a few steps down that path. Recently we took a look at some of the prototypes that were passed over on the path to minifigure development. Once you have a design, you need a way to put it together. Today, let’s take a look at the moulds that are in use.

Mold or Mould?

Over the last few years, I have been struggling with the word used to describe the thing that molten plastic is injected into, where it gains its special shape.  Is it a mould or a mold? And which is the spelling that has spores, and was the bane of my bathroom back in my bachelor days?

A quick call out to to the Wikipedia suggested that both spellings would apply to those fungi, depending on where in the world you are standing. (Molds in USA, moulds in the rest of the English speaking world).

But what about the verb meaning to shape/form or the noun referring to the thing used to do the same? It turns out that that is also spelt mold in the USA and mould everywhere else!  I am not about to revise every spelling of the world ‘mold’ over the last two and a half years.  going forward, however, I will endeavour to use the form of spelling that my computer attempts to direct me towards every time. This dialogue from the Australian Writer’s Centre might shed a little light on the subject.

This awesome brick built mo(u)ld was used while prototyping different minifigure prototypes.

Continue reading

Harry Potter and the Order of the Figures

 

Harry Potter Minifigures are out in the wild. Once again, new legs are released in the Harry Potter theme.  Here are some scattered thoughts and pictures. 

When I first heard about the Harry Potter Collectable Minifigures, I was not feeling too excited. We had already been delivered the second series of The LEGO Batman Movie collectable minifigures, as well as the brilliant series 18 – celebrating the 40th anniversary of the arrival of the LEGO Minigfigure. I really loved that set, but my taste for it was somewhat soured by the presence of the chase figure: the Policeman.  While I loved the idea of this reimagining of the 1978 classic ( I mean, there were no stickers!), the presence of only one figure in a box pushed up the price on the secondary market. The fact that the ‘chase’ figure could be found in the same place in every box meant they were rapidly identifiable by enthusiastic collectors, and people looking to flip them on the secondary market.

Now the inclusion of chase figures in collectable minifigures is not new – There was Mister Gold, back in series 10: but that was SO rare that most people considered it a special surprise, rather than an integral part of the set.  Having a rare figure in every box makes it feel like a necessary part of the set. Especially when the package insert lists it as an integral part of the set. So I let the Policeman pass.  I purchased an ‘incomplete set’, and occasionally had a look at the well rummaged boxes that I came across on random. Around two months after its release, a friend gave me a call as asked if I was still interested? He had come across a couple of extra policemen in his travels, and we organised a simple trade.

IMG_9980And now we have the 71022 Harry Potter Collectable Minifigures Series.  With twenty two figures, it is the largest collection of minifigures to date. Early rumours suggested that there would be twenty four characters, and this is indeed the case, as we discover that two figures in fact have dual identities.  We have sixteen figures related to the Harry Potter Series, some represented for the first time; and six from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them.

IMG_9986There are also a number of special features introduced in this series:

Forty years of minifigures continues: Changes a foot.

As we have already considered this year,  we are now celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the arrival of LEGO Minifigures. In this series, we see the continuing development of minifigures with the arrival of a brand new minifigure element: the mid-height legs. One plate shorter than the standard minifigure legs, these are perfect for ‘not quite adult teens’, they are seen with seven of the twenty two figures present.  Initially I was concerned that these elements were isolated to a licensed, collectable minifigure series. However, this is not the first time that Harry Potter has been used to introduce new minifigure leg elements…The mini leg (design ID 41879), frequently used for children, Ewoks, Yoda and dwarves, was first introduced in 2002, as part of Gringotts Bank 4714, and Dobby’s release 4731, in tan, black and brown. These legs also featured in Star Wars, and train sets in the first year. Now, they are everywhere.

It is a shame that four of the seven figures that use the mid length legs have the markings associated with the gowns and uniform of Gryffindor students, and have limited reuse potential.  Fortunately, three figures have plain leg markings: Cho Chan and Neville Longbottom both have black legs, while Luna Lovegood has blue legs.

Here are the legs of all sizes in action:

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The other change that we have seen this year in in the use of the a new 2x2x1 2/3  curved slope (Miniskirt No.6 39139) : In this series of minifigures, we have three different colours and prints of the new part. It has also recently arrived in the Star Wars theme, worn by the Pretorian guards in 75216  Snoke’s Throne Room (Another August 2018 release). This element now means that figures wearing gowns or dresses are the same height as regular minifigures. Of interest, it is slightly tapered across the studs, and is slightly narrower than the bottom of the minifigure torso.  This has been the case with legs for years, but a point of difference with skirt wearing minifigures”

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Otherwise, what does the series have to offer?

22 minifigures, 24 characters, 27 faces,7 sets of the new ‘teen legs’, wands in 6 colours, 5 items of food, 2 suitcases ,5 animal familiars and a mandragora plant, dark green broom and a Golden Snitch!

So Much Pottery Goodness! Let’s cut to the chase and look at the Figures. Continue reading

Series 18 Minifigures: Welcome to the Party

This month sees the 40th Birthday of our favourite plastic persona, the LEGO® Minifigure. The Series 18 Collectable Minifigures celebrate this occasion with a costume party, and we see some of the best costumes for our figures yet.  I am yet to track down the Policeman: a printed modern representation of the policeman that came with set 600, one of the first Town Sets released back in 1978.  As part of the ever circling self referential tips to the past ( in a year when too many historical references are barely enough…), the policeman has a printed tile, with the box of set 600 printed on it.

By now, I suspect you have located a ‘feel guide’ to help identify each figure inside its foil bag, and read the opinions of others about this great series.

Every set has its highlights and lowlights. For this series, I have presented an image of every figure that I have, along with the highlight of the figure for me.  There will be things you prefer.  That’s okay. Who is your favourite?

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I love many of the accessories and head pieces included with this series, but my favourite would be the tile that comes with the young boy: it is printed with as small a representation as you could come up with to be a representation of the packet that the series one figures appeared in years ago. Also up there would have to be the balloon animals. As for my favourite figures? it is a toss up for me between the cowboy, the dragon and the two figures dressed up as LEGO Bricks!

What about you? What do you love about this series? Who is your favourite?  If you could only choose one element from this series, what would it be? Why not leave your comments below.

Now to see if I can find a policeman.

Until I do,

Play Well!

The LEGO® Batman Collectable Minifigures Series 2: In order of appearance.

Just as we thought the LEGO® Batman Movie had been merchandised within an inch of its life, we bear witness to another wave of sets and a second series of collectible mini figures. On the whole, I was a little sceptical of the viability of a third wave, but seeing such sets as the Justice League Anniversary Party (70919) and Egghead’s Mech Food Fight(70920) my spirits have been lifted.  I have also been tempted to extend past my original vow to purchase only the sets that resonated with my youth.  But now the gloves have come off. The Justice League 57th Annual Reunion Party brings back so many recollections of Super Friends (the prevailing non-Batman DC superhero cartoon series in my childhood), and the sheer lunacy of the Condiment King (introduced in the Batman Animated Episode ‘Make ‘Em Laugh’ in 1994, and appearing in the comics continuity as recently as 2017). While I applaud the inclusion of Wonder Dog (Superfriends S1, 1973), I miss his human teen friends, Wendy and Marvin, and likewise, while they were retired for the second season ( The All-New Superfriends Hour, 1977 – I guess they had gone to college), we haven’t yet seen LEGO Glick, the space monkey companion of the Wonder Twins.

As I looked at the second series of CMFs I became sceptical as to how many of these characters actually existed prior to this series being announced. I think I have tracked down original appearances for most of them, with only a few having a fraction of a second time on screen in the closing credits. And not the one I was expecting!

For the record, all figures (20 in the set) have a 4×3 plate, this time printed with a Bat Logo…

So, I would like to present the Series 2 LEGO Batman Movie CMFs’ in order of their original appearance across various media… You are welcome to disagree with some of my more…creative choices.

Professor Hugo Strange.jpg

 

Professor Hugo Strange

Detective Comics #36, February 1940

Appearing early in Batman’s Career, this brilliant scientist/psychiatrist was later to appear in Batman #1.

 

holiday alfredVacation Alfred

Detective Comics #83, January 1944.

Alfred’s initial appearances in comics depicted him as a bumbling, overweight, clean shaven man (April 1943). However, he was portrayed as as a trim, moustachioed gentleman in a movie serial at the same time.  In an attempt to bring the comics in line with this figure, he was sent of to vacation at a health resort.  Since then, he has barely been seen vacationing at all!

Jor ElJor-El

More Fun Comics #101, January 1945.

Superman’s father appeared relatively early on in Superman’s Story.  The design depicted in the CMF is most closely based on that portrayed by Marlon Brando in the 1978 Richard Donner movie.

mermaid batman

Mermaid Batman

Batman #53, June 1949

I did not think this one could have possibly existed in ‘real life’ but in the story ‘Batman Under the Sea’ Batman appears to be transformed, albeit temporarily into a Mermaid.

 

Killer mothKiller Moth

Batman#63, February 1951

In his origin story, Killer Moth aims to adopt many of the facets of Batman’s life fighting crime, but swearing to help criminals rather than stop them. He fails!

 

clock kingThe Clock King

World’s Finest #111, August 1960.

Initially a villain plaguing Green Arrow and Speedy, in time Clock King came to torment Batman with his time piece related crimes.

 

zodGeneral Zod

Adventure Comics#283, April 1961

Superman’s nemesis was imprisoned in the Phantom Zone in the 1960’s and has spent the last 57 years trying to escape!

holiday robinHoliday Robin

Surf’s Up, Joker’s Under. Batman TV Series, Season 3, November 16, 1967.  When Batman takes on Joker in a surfing contest, in one of the more bizarre episodes of the classic TV series, Dick Grayson is there.  Perhaps his shirt is more green, and his trunks more orange, and no Robin Specific livery is worn, but he is there is spirit as Robin.  The same cannot really be said for Batgirl.  While Barbara Gordon is seen at the beach, with a surfboard, she does not take part in the confrontation with the Joker on the waves, in costume.

dr phosophorousDoctor Phosphorous

Detective Comics #469, May 1977.

Around the time that a little film called Star Wars was first released, Doctor Phosphorous also first appeared in the pages of Detective Comics. This is possibly the most brilliant use of the colour ‘Spring Yellowish Green’.  Ever!

jaynaJayna

‘The JoyRide’
The All-New Superfriends Hour, September 10, 1977
When sh activates her wonder-twins power with her brother Zan, Jayna can adopt the form of animals.

ZanZan

‘The JoyRide’
The All-New Superfriends Hour, September 10, 1977
When Zan and Jayna arrived in the Hall of Justice, Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Dog had left.  Their monkey Glick is a glaring omission in the current wave of sets and miniseries. Zan can adopt the worm of water…water, ice, waves, waterspout

black vulcanBlack Vulcan

‘The Whirlpool’
The All-New Superfriends Hour, September 10, 1977
With this season of Superfriends, steps were taken to increase the diversity of the Super Hero Roster, resulting in the introduction of Black Vulcan, El Dorado and Samaurai, as well as Apache Chief.  In his debut story, Black Vulcan teams up with Aquaman.

apache ChiefApache Chief

‘The Antidote’
The All-New Superfriends Hour, September 17 1977.
Appearing the week after the Black Vulcan, Apache Chief is thought to be the first Superhero to be drawn from the American First Nations.  The first adventure sees him team up with Wonder Woman.

Black canaryBlack Canary – Dinah Lance

Justice League of America #220,November 1983.

Dinah Lance is the daughter of Dinah Laurel who was the original Black Canary, part of the Justice Society of America. She Debuted in Fresh Comics #86 (August 1947).

tropical jokerTropical Joker

The Killing Joke, 1988

I’m sure this was not the intended reference for this figure, but the similarities between the Joker, as portrayed here, and in the opening pages of Alan Moore’s 1988 Graphic Novel, The Killing Joke, are uncanny.  Especially once you lose the inflatable ring and the icy pole/ice lolly/popcicle.

surfing batgirlVacation BatGirl

Batman and Robin, (Movie)1997?

While technically, this incarnation of Batgirl did not wear purple, go on vacation or surfing, it is the first version of Batgirl wearing a rubber suit that I could locate ( if you wish to be pedantic, perhaps she, along with the other vacation characters appear in the closing credits for approximately 0.75 seconds.

harleyHarley Quinn: Friends Are Family

Debut: Batman (Animated Series) ‘Joker’s Favor’  September 11, 1992)

In this costume: Closing Credits The LEGO Batman Movie, 2017.

There is not much to say about the psychiatrist who became infatuated with the Joker, and ultimately adopted a costumed identity.  Created by Paul Dini  and Bruce Timm, Harley Quinn is one of the great characters to come out of the Animated series of the early 1990’s

swimming poool batmanSwimming Pool Batman

The LEGO Batman Movie, 2017

Dolphins in the swimming pool below Wayne Manor? if nothing else, this figure (along with mermaid batman) provide another two facial expressions. (and a man’s torso!) The 9th ‘ab’ is not obviously visible however!

soccer momSoccer Mom Barbara Gordon

The LEGO Batman Movie 1997

A transient costume, viewed with derision by Barbara. Barely worth a mention. But there are figures whose costumes have less screen time!

Family alfred

Alfred: Friends are Family

Closing Credits, The LEGO Batman Movie 2017

What can we say? Looking dashing in his mirrored sunglasses, and gold waistcoat, Alfred can really play guitar.  This is probably not canon…

 

 

There you have it!

I quite enjoyed this collection of figures, especially the more obscure members of the super friends, and cartoonish villains, which the movie dealt with well. Who would have thought Mermaid Batman was a thing almost 70 years before the movie?

Who is your favourite? who would you put in series three? Apart from ‘Everyone’ in friends are family costumes?  Why not share your thoughts in the comments below.

Until next time,

Play well!

 

 

Minifigure Gender distribution: 2017 update

A little over a year ago, I wrote up an analysis of gender distribution in LEGO® Minigures in the post friends era.  In the years since LEGO Friends had been released, there had been some positive trends towards an equal balance, after starting from a pretty low base line (around 11% in 2012) up to 30% in the Volcano Sub-theme of LEGO City in 2016.

As well as supporting the regular themes, 2017 has been a big year for LEGO tying in with cinematic releases, with both inhouse and external IP.  By the end of the year, we will have seen a new Star Wars movie, Wonder Woman and Justice League movies, The LEGO Batman Movie and LEGO Ninjago Movie released.

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The LEGO Ideas set: 21312 Women of NASA.  Real Life STEM role models in LEGO Form.  This set is due to be released this week from LEGO retail stores. 

This post was provoked, in part after reading a comment about the relatively low female representation in the Collectable Minifigure sets recently released. I thought it would be interesting to revisit the question of gender distribution in some popular LEGO themes, and see if there were any significant shifts in trends over the last 12 months, when I last reviewed the numbers. The impending release of the Ideas set ‘Women of NASA’ is also of interest, as it certainly demonstrates a desire to see inspirational female role models immortalised in LEGO form.

I would like to look specifically at LEGO City, overall, as well as broken down into its major sub themes; The LEGO Batman Movie; The LEGO Ninjago Movie, and also LEGO Friends. I would also like to look at LEGO Star Wars sets released since the Force Awakens… Continue reading

Brickheadz: Not Just for Superheroes

Hot on the tail of the recent official announcement of the LEGO® DC and Marvel Superheroes BrickHeadz comes proof of the range extending through other IP Licenses.  Today, the LEGO® Group and Disney officially unveiled  Beauty and the Beast in BrickHeadz (no, I can’t bring myself to like the ‘z’ either) form.

[Editorial question for consideration: What is the singular of Brickheadz?]

Images after the break. Continue reading

71017 – Batman Collectable Minifigures: In order of appearance

Holy palindromic numbers, Batman!

The 71017 LEGO® Batman Minifigures have hit the shelves, bounced once, and just about left them!  Get them while you can, as they will only be available for a limited time.

All of the figures have full size legs, and many feature two tone legs.  Some of the accessories are completely new, original and a little bit hilarious. including the lobster, the plate with lettuce print, rubber duck floatation ring.  Others are fantastic recolorations (because we so needed a pink battering

There are some outright strange figures coming up in the LEGO Batman Movie, as seen in the series of collectable minifigures. And while many have not had a mainstream movie appearance, many have existed for quite some time.

Here are the figures in order of appearance (as best as I can determine…): Continue reading