Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the LEGO® minifigure

Last week you might’ve heard a lot of hubbub celebrating the 40th anniversary of the LEGO minifigure. August 29th saw the celebrations kick off! This was the original date that the first patent (Danish) was handed in, in 1977. The first minifigures were not launched until 1978, and hence we celebrated the 40th of the first launched minifigures and not when the first patent was handed in.

Below are a few paragraphs from LEGO’s “Minifigure 40th Fact Sheet” that we were sent.

Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the LEGO® minifigure

In 1978, Disco was dominating the charts, mobile phones were non-existent and the Internet was still more than a decade away. It was also the year the very first LEGO® minifigures went into production. Fast forward to today and those inaugural characters have evolved nearly as much as the world around them, offering endless roleplay possibilities. So, as one of the planets tiniest icons celebrates its big 4…0, here are some milestone moments from its very big story.

The evolution of the LEGO minifigure

It all started in 1974 when the LEGO building figure was launched, made mostly of large square LEGO bricks with moveable arms but immoveable legs. This was followed in 1975 by LEGO stage extra figures with solid torsos, immoveable arms and legs, and no printed features. Basically, very different to the LEGO minifigures we know and love today! Not that we had to wait too long for them to arrive, with 1978 ushering in a new era of LEGO minifigures equipped with moveable limbs and simple facial expressions comprising two solid black eye dots and black painted smile. Fast forward to 2018 and there are now more than 650 unique faces in the collection, meaning children can have fun roleplaying different characters and personalities – anytime, anywhere.

From 20 to 8,000

To begin with, there were around 20 different LEGO minifigure characters, including a police officer, doctor, firefighter, knight and astronaut. But in the four decades since, the number of minifigures available has risen to more than 8,000. To put that into context, if the global population had grown at the same rate, there would now be nearly 144 trillion of us living on Earth!

The perfect height

Take away the hair or any other headpiece and LEGO minifigures are exactly the same height as four LEGO bricks fitted together.


And while everyone celebrated the 40th anniversary of the LEGO minifigure, I took a moment to look at what they mean to me and how they’ve impacted my life as a toy photographer.

I remember playing with LEGO minifigures when I was a kid. I remember playing with LEGO minifigures with my kids.

And I also remember the first time I photographed a LEGO minifigure. It was a slightly out of focus snap on my phone of the series 8 DJ.

See, it was the LEGO minifigures that got me into toy photography. Minifigures were the first toys that found their way in front on my lens. They were also my gateway drug. They introduced me to other forms of toy photography. LEGO Minifigures lured me into collecting more toys. Not only have they introduced me to new toys, they’ve also introduced me to new friends. They’ve traveled with me and sent me across to the other side of the globe. LEGO minigifures have helped me hang photographs on gallery walls. They’ve opened up doors, new worlds, opportunities and friendships for me.

So, cheers LEGO minifigures! Thanks for everything.


What do LEGO minifigures me to you? Do you have any special memories that you’d like to share?

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  1. Happy Birthday minifigures! LEGO minifigures are what got me into Toy Photography also! I had taken a few toy photos at different points before that but it was the minifigs (and all their details and expressions) that got me hooked. So I felt really bad when I woke up on August 29th and realized it was the “birthday” of the minifigure and I didn’t have a photo for it. I hope to take one soon……

    I want to thank my LEGO minifigures for getting me through some tough times and some long hot summers. They’re always so cheerful and unfazed by everything. It’s hard to feel sad when I see their smiling faces looking back at me 🙂 All they need is some coffee and a pretzel and they’re happy 🙂


  2. Zee Fowler

    Minifigures, one of the best and most reliable form of figures. 😀 There’s such a wide range of them. I get confused and flustered sometimes looking at action figures. Black Series, Bandai, Hot Toys, better figures, worse figures, none of that matters to the self contained world of the Minifigure. You can look at a list of minifigures and say “Hey, I want some Lord Of The Rings figures (or) Harry Potter figures, (or) just some generic knights so I can create my own story.” Bling! Right there and ready to go. Best invention since books. 🙂

  3. Mary Wardell

    Legos have been around me for many years as my husband and son loved Lego passionately. I loved miniatures but didn’t start getting into the minifigs until my son lost his interest. I’d already started taking pictures of toys, but the minifigs gave me the final push into the run as I learned I liked to build and to record the stories in my photos that played in my head. Then I got onto G+ and joined in a lot of photo challenges that encouraged me to do even more! Happy Birthday, Minifigs!

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