This is a tribute to minifigs everywhere on their 40th Anniversary, thanks to LEGO® for 40 years of fun and animation possibilities!
The humble LEGO® minifigure was first released in 1978, with its simple smiley face, yellow head and posable arms and legs, and it was an instant hit with kids! The body printing was simple, and only on the front of the torso, and the themes in which these little characters lived were simply Classic Town, Classic Space and Classic Castle! They had basic accessories including a few hats, some hair pieces, but absolutely no guns! Kids loved the fact that you could swap the minifigure parts over, creating new characters from the standard ones supplied by LEGO® and this is still a big part of the appeal today. We wonder if LEGO®’s Christiansen family realised all those years back what a hit they would be 40 years on, not just as toys but as collectors items as well…
In 1989, eleven years after their release, minifigures started to depart from their simple designs, introducing new faces, more accessories and even new body parts like peg legs and hooks for hands! In 2003 we saw new flesh tones instead of the iconic yellow LEGO® had used for the previous 25 years in themes like Basketball and Star Wars, and in 2004 flesh tones were used on all licensed products to more accurately portray movie stars and characters.
By 2006 over 4 billion minifigures had been produced with around 3655 different varieties by 2010 and some say that by 2020 more minifigures will have been produced than humans presently inhabit the Earth… there are so many different themes available now, many still paralleling the original themes of Town (City), Space (Alien Conquest) and Castle (Nexo Knights) as just a few examples!
But despite all the changes over 40 years the basic principles of the minifigure are the same, their moving parts work on the same basic engineering ideas and in particular their shape has become iconic… yes we have had different shaped heads, shorter legs, flippers instead of arms, but they all come down to the same basic design principles that were established all that time ago in 1978!
We wanted to capture some of that history in an animation, so we raided all the minifigure boxes in the house, found some vintage LEGO® on eBay and asked the awesome guys over at Firestartoys.com to help us plug the gaps! We have tried to show some comparisons between themes over the years, and the kids were amazed at just how much detail the figures have now compared to when they were first released! The dates on the video are for when the theme was first released, not the minifigures and we have tried to cram in as many themes and minifigure variations as we could, including the Star Wars droid bodies from 1999 and the minidolls from LEGO® Friends and other ranges! Trying to fit 40 years of history into 3 and a half minutes isn’t easy, but 62 ‘minifigures’ later and we have a pretty good result! There are also a couple of small (obviously purposeful) mistakes in there as well… Can you spot them?
It wasn’t easy short listing what minifigures or themes to feature out of the thousands available, so we have definitely missed some, maybe one of your favourites??? What minifigures or themes do you think we should have featured? Comment below and let us know!