The LEGO minifigure is 25 years old this year. Since first appearing on the market in 1978, the little yellow figure has gone from strength to strength. LEGO Company has produced no fewer than 3.7 billion minifigures over the years – making it one of the world’s largest population groups!
Over the past the minifigure has appeared as many characters – knight, astronaut, policeman, racing driver, space warrior, Harry Potter, Santa Claus, Steven Spielberg, crane operator, football player, explorer, nurse, basketball player, Spiderman, frogman, skier, fireman, skeleton, pirate, rollerskater, American Indian, queen ...
The invention of the LEGO minifigure marked the beginning of a brand new era for the LEGO product. The little figure put new life into the LEGO universe and added a brand new dimension to play. The minifigure made it possible to create big play themes with storytelling and the children were able to build castles, populated with knights and maidens, and on board the pirate ships came real pirates with a patch over one eye, “wooden” legs and hooks.
Despite its size, the minifigure is actually something of a technical marvel. The hands are able to turn without falling off and the arms and legs are capable of moving. Hair and headgear can be removed without taking the head off the neck. The minifigure matches all standards in the LEGO system. The body is three LEGO bricks high; the head is one brick high. The figure can hold a LEGO brick in its hand and it can be plugged standing or sitting on top of other LEGO elements.
During the first the years, the minifigure’s facial expressions were happy and neutral but with the launch of LEGO pirates in 1989 the figure got a variety of expressions: good or bad, happy or grumpy. With licensed products such as Harry Pooter the figure assumed the roles of specific characters. And with LEGO Basketball the figure was given authentic skin colours instead of the original yellow.