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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