Minifig40 III: Printing Our Minifigure Elements and Putting Them together.

minifigure_production_funbuildToday we continue our 40th Birthday Exploration of the Minifigure’s journey: We have previously looked at the structural prototyping and moulds used for our minifigures.  Today, we will take a special look into the LEGO Factory at Kladno, in the Czech Republic,  The LEGO Group have sent The Rambling Brick (and other fan media organisations) some fantastic photos, taken by Jan Branc, as well as a video demonstrating some of the processes that our minifigures go through in the Kladno Factory, located in the Czech Republic.

Let us look at torsos, arms and hands; heads and, finally, the legs.

Shake Your Body:

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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

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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