Minifigure 40: Classic Castle [Advertising Archive]

In recent weeks we have celebrated the 40th Birthday of the LEGO® Minifigure by looking at the ways in which print advertisements evolved over the years for City, trains and Space.  City had us building what we knew, Space let us look towards an optimistic future, and today, I would like to look at Castle. The knights of the LEGO Castle theme took us back in time. These were stories we already knew: King Arthur, Robin Hood, the Crusades, and now LEGO brought us a way in which to explore and reenact these stories our selves, in the comfort of our own home.

Once again, we visit advertising material from a number of different sources, predominantly European comics. I have had a bit more help with the translations here, as some of the concepts were too much for a simple machine translation engine… Read on and enjoy…

In the beginning:

Ad 1978_64
Build your own Knight’s Castle. Populate the Legoland castle with small funny colorful figures Just like at King Arthur’s time when Prince Valiant passed the Camelot drawbridge on his adventures.

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Minifigure 40: LEGOLAND® Space [Advertising Archive]

Celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year, LEGO® Space is one of the great evergreen themes of the Minifigure era. One of the terrific aspects of the theme was the way that the overall design would periodically evolve, introducing new colour schemes and minifigure designs.

Ad 1979_64The theme arrived as we saw a resurgence in science fiction and space fantasy entertainment on the screen: led by films such as Star Wars, and on the smaller screen by Doctor Who, Blakes Seven and Battlestar Galactica, our imaginations were primed for journeys beyond the stars. The Space Shuttle Enterprise had been undergoing test flights from the back of a 747 Jet, and a we were excited for a new era of space exploration commencing, with the Space Shuttle Columbia ultimately launching in 1981.

These early series focussed on exploration, mining and the perils of space travel itself. It took 8 years before an enemy faction arrived, providing an outlet for dramatic conflict within the stories that were told.

Join us, as we set about exploring the print advertisements for LEGOLAND Space, and continue through the classic space era. Most of these advertisements are from Europe in a variety of languages.  I have endeavoured to provide translations of these.

In the Beginning

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A Post About Aspiring Altered Alliterative Anthropomorphised Animal Annotation [Fabuland Names: Advertising Archive]

Let me take you back to Fabuland.  First released in 1979, this was one of the first themes for which story telling was central. Fabuland was the first theme to be released in parallel with a series of books and was supported later by an animated television series.  Designed to fit into the range somewhere between Duplo and ‘normal’ LEGO Bricks,  Fabuland sets continued to be available until 1989.

With around one hundred sets produced over this time, there were over eighty different figures produced. The sets were designed to be able to be assembled by children as young as three, and as such developed larger elements compared standard building bricks during the course of their run.

 

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Minifigure 40: LEGO® Town [Advertisement Archive]

Untitled 7Forty years ago, we saw the change in LEGO® sets: the arrival of the minifigure.  Now we had articulated figures to bring our models to life: no need to remove the torso for our figures to sit down. As part of #minfigure40 I received access to a large number of media assets: today, I would like to look at some of the features of the advertisements in the LEGO Town/City series, one of the few themes to have been continuously available in some form or another for forty years!  The majority of these advertisements were placed in comics, or magazines featuring comic strip anthologies, and puzzles and kid’s news. They have been published in multiple markets – ands languages.  I have attempted to translate them as well as an online translation engine will allow.

The art style is typically similar to that seen in contemporary catalogs: certainly I suspect the early advertisements were shot at a similar time to the catalogs for that year.

1978: The Minifigure Arrives in Classic Town

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Minifigure40: Trains [Advertisement Archive]

Ad 1980_105-2As part of the recent Minifigure40 campaign, LEGO have sent out a collection of old print advertisements for a number of themes, from the 1970’s through to the early 2000’s.  These advertisements come from a variety of sources, including comic books and magazines from the period.  Not all of these were presented in English.

Today I thought we might check out some of the advertisements from the 1980 to 1997.  During this time, we have some 4.5V and 12V trains, and ultimately see the introduction of the enduring (and endearing) 9V train system.

Introducing the New 12 Volt Train System

In 1980, we saw the introduction of the new 12 Volt train system: offering electrified central rails, batteries were unnecessary.  The system also introduced a system of switches that would allow remote control of points/switches as well as boom gates and trains.

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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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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.

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