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All hail the minifig

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All hail the minifig

Postby Bruce N H » Tue Feb 11, 2020 5:19 pm

Hey all,

42 is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything, and it's also the age of the minifig, or as it says in the original US patent:

A toy figure, adapted to be detachably mounted on a base plate pertaining to a toy building set and provided with coupling studs, is provided with a leg assembly comprising a pair of identical leg elements having substantially plane rear faces (calves). Recesses comprising lenthwise extending channels or pairs of holes are provided in the rear faces of the leg elements, and the width of these recesses is substantially equal to the width of the studs of the base plate ....

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That image is from this article on Slashgear, which also has the timeline below. I think those were both put out by LEGO 2 years ago as a part of a press kit celebrating the 40th anniversary of the fig.

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I'll follow this up in subsequent posts with more on the history of our little plastic friends.

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Re: All hail the minifig

Postby Bruce N H » Tue Feb 11, 2020 5:42 pm

1978

While the armless legless precursors to the fig went back to 1975 (oh, and there were those big yellow head guys - I had one of those in a 70's basic building kit, I'm guessing set 20), anyway, where was I? Oh, yes, while the armless legless precursors to the fig went back to 1975, there were no castle sets with that fig. The first true minifigs came out in 1978, and the first castle figs were in that year's set 375, the legendary Yellow Castle (released in the US in 1981 as 6075) . It had a glorious 14 figs!

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Re: All hail the minifig

Postby Bruce N H » Mon Feb 24, 2020 8:42 pm

Quick note - I see on Brickset that Jens Nygaard Knudsen, designer of the minifig, past away last week at the age of 78.

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Re: All hail the minifig

Postby Bruce N H » Mon Feb 24, 2020 9:02 pm

1979

In 1979 two new castle sets were released in Europe, 3838, Knight's Tournament, and 677, Knight's Procession. These would be released a couple years later in the US as 6083 and 6087.

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There were two big innovations here as far as the figs go. First, these had printed torsos, as opposed to the stickers from the Yellow Castle. Second, we got a little bit of gender diversity with the first castle female (queen? princess?) watching the joust. Knight's Procession was a great army builder, with six figs from the same faction with a couple of helm and weapon variants, so with a couple of these sets you could build up a little army.

In addition, there was a three-fig pack 16, Castle Mini-Figures with a very limited release (only in Canada, according to Ben).

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Re: All hail the minifig

Postby Frank_Lloyd_Knight » Sun Sep 13, 2020 3:21 am

On one hand, it's neat that I remember these changes from different styles of figures. On the other hand, it kind of makes me feel old. I had several of the old, big, yellow-balloon-headed figures from a universal building set and a little police motorcycle set. Then I had a couple of the first generation armless/legless minifigs that came with an ambulance & helicopter set. And then, of course, I had the castle sets and some of the space sets with the new minifigure. It's amazing that the final form of the minifigure has been so resilient and lasted so long. It's curious that the timeline chart you posted leaves out the "friends" figure. I wonder how long that one will last.
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