Forty years of minifigures: some of the changes are on the inside.

In which I explore the ever evolving structure of the basic minifigure over the past 40 years and realise that there are a remarkable number of variations on the seemingly ‘normal’ elements, that many of us take for granted. There may be some obsessive measurements taken.

The LEGO® Minfigure turned forty years old this month. You may have heard about it.  You might have purchased a celebratory Collectable Minifigure.  Or seventeen. During the course of following up on some classic sets from both my own, and other people’s childhoods, I have come across signs of possible deliberate reimagining of some classic sets in the City range.  While looking at these sets, I have found myself looking at minifigures from different eras. Much to my surprise, the differences between this figures are significantly more than skin deep.

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In this picture, there are 4 different head molds, four separate torso molds and four different leg molds. Who would have guessed?

While discussing these things with one of my suppliers, she pulled out her box of minifgure heads, pointed to some old smileys and asked ‘What do you think of this?’  If I didn’t know better, I would have said that some of these heads seemed a little more square than others. Now, BrickBunny has been around the traps a bit longer than I have, so I am not surprised that she knows about these things.

Intrigued, I returned home, full of investigational vigour, and got out my trusty loaned Canon EF 50mm f/2.5 macro lens, and realising the need to go further with attention to detail, attached the extension tube for life size conversion.  We were going in close. Really close.

Time to Get A Head

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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  As part of the ever circling self referential tips to the past ( in a year when too many historical references are barely enough…), the policeman has a printed tile, with the box of set 600 printed on it.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!

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

Does The Use of Stickers Ever Compute? or Adhesive Labels – for gain or pain?

Please don’t get me wrong with the title here: I can find stickers to be as irritating as the next person.  However, after looking at Stephanie’s House last week, I came to realise that some LEGO elements are used in a recurring fashion, but that the final appearance and effect is dependent on the labels used.

IMG_7007On this occasion, I am specifically thinking of the humble laptop computer. Design number 18659.  This piece is currently available in two colours: black and medium lilac. It appeared in black in 2010, and medium lilac in 2016.

It appears simple enough: Slightly less than 3×4 studs in area when open, there are no clear system connections. No studs, no tubes, no clear handle. However, when closed, there is an indentation in the upper and lower parts of the laptop that accepts a clip type attacment such as a minifigure hand. Actually, when open, a lip along the bottom section allows a clip connection there as well.

Now, these laptops appear simple enough. But they are a little plain. I can see the benefit of only having one part, without printing it. From the manufacturing point of view: every new element – a part in a new colour – needs a new bin in the warehouse for storage.  Once you go the next step, and print on that part, each printed design has a new element ID, and therefore requires a new place to store it too. For the MOC Builder, the role of this element is not locked in: It’s a little hard to pretend that a part printed with decorative bows is, in fact, a vital tool in the war against crime!laptops friends.pngThe medium lilac laptop (Element ID 6141902) appears in three distinct sets, all in the Friends theme:  41314 Stephanie’s House, as discussed already; 41115 Emma’s Creative Workshop and 41116 Olivia’s Exploration Car.  Each set has a new sticker added to the sheet, which can (if you wish) be attached to the laptop present in the set, and allow you to give it an appearance of functionality.

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Ninjago Collectable Minifigs: 10 revealed

The LEGO Ninjago Facebook page tonight revealed the first 10 of 20 collectable mini figures, Blind bags, numbered 71019, to tie in with the LEGO Ninjago movie this September:

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Volcano Garmadon
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Master Wu

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Series 17 Minifigures: Fireside Review

Pictures of the latest series (Number 17) of Collectable Minifigures have been circulating the interwebs like crazy in the run up to their official release this week.  My figures arrived on 2nd of May, and I have to admit, I think this is one of the most appealing series yet  There is something for pretty well everyone…

As autumn has taken control of the weather here (in the USA, you may call it fall although I appreciate it is currently spring in the northern hemisphere), temperatures have dropped and evenings may be spent sitting in front of the fireplace with a nice cup of tea/ glass of whine/ beverage of choice.  While I was sitting down in front of the fireplace, this evening, I opened today’s mail. The camera was in easy reach, and I could not justify moving far from my seat to photograph these figures.

IMG_4873.jpgIf you have seen them already, you know who we have. I’m not up to generating a bag feeling guide tonight, and I know there are a few already out there.

 If you have not yet seen reviews of this series, here is a quick summary: Continue reading

Coming in 2017: The Future…

Over the last couple of weeks, official photos of many of 2017’s sets have come to light: Creator,  Lego® Technic (celebrating 40 Years), Elves, DC Superhero Girls, City, Disney, Marvel Super Heroes, Nexo Knights, Architecture, Star Wars, and LEGO Batman movie.  I have lost count of the number of reveals that have occurred.

If you don’t like spoilers, look away now.

There has been a steady reduction in the number of unknown unknowns, with an increase in the known knowns, and clarification as to the nature of the known unknowns.

Some of the my highlights in the reveals seen to date:

LEGO® City has 40% female minifigures in the sets revealed so far. [Great for girls and their families who are not fans of minidolls]

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The LEGO® Creator Expert 10255 Modular Assembly Square has so many great new pieces.

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LEGO® Friends is no longer restricted to the bright pastel palette, and some more traditional colours are coming into play in 41311 Heartlake Pizzeria.  There are 3 male minidolls, and 6 puppies to add to the collection in the sets revealed so far for 2017.friends

LEGO® DC Super Hero Girls will add a some additional heroism, and villianism(?) to our minidoll collections.

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This year’s Creator Ocean Explorer 31045 has grown up into next year’s Technic Ocean Explorer 42064

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The Creator Mighty Dinosaurs 31058 looks like a terrific landscape parts pack:

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Elves continues with Goblins, and Emily’s little sister Sophie. More great fantasy landscapes and transportation

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LEGO® Ninjago sets seem to be a little darker this year… mainly in palette

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The LEGO® BATMAN Movie will bankrupt many of us with great looking sets and TWENTY, yes I said 20 Collectable Minifigures to collect…

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These are the things that have made ME look up and take notice. Many new sets have been previewed on other LEGO® News Websites lately. What has grabbed your attention?

And what other treats may there be to celebrate to 10th anniversary of ‘the really cool sets catering for AFOLs’ such as the first modular building sets, 10181 Eiffel Tower, 10182 Hobby Trains and of course 10179 Ultimate Collectors Millennium Falcon. I’m sure there is much left for us to see.

What are you looking forward to?

 

Play well