Lego Leg­ends

Essex Life - - CONTENTS -

Es­sex me­mories of the minifig­ure at 40

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 planet’s tini­est icons cel­e­brates its big 4…0, Es­sex Life looks back at the long-last­ing legacy of LEGO and asked you, our read­ers, for some favourite LEGO me­mories THE STORY OF THE LEGO MINIFIG­URE EVO­LU­TION

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, but 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.

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!


Take away the hair or any other head­piece and LEGO minifig­ures are ex­actly the same height as four LEGO bricks fit­ted to­gether. This means they fit per­fectly into the LEGO Sys­tem in Play. Oh, and if you stacked them head to toe, you would need 20,750 to reach the height of the world’s tallest build­ing, Dubai’s Burj Khal­ifa.


Over the years, LEGO minifig­ures have shown they can turn their hand to pretty much any­thing. From pi­rates to paramedics, en­gi­neers to ele­phant keep­ers, vet­eri­nar­i­ans to Vik­ings, there have been thou­sands of dif­fer­ent minifig­ure char­ac­ters. Three LEGO minifig­ures even blasted into space on­board NASA’s Juno space­craft in 2011.


Did you know the tra­di­tional yel­low colour of the LEGO minifig­ure’s head was cho­sen based on fo­cus group feed­back in the early and mid-1970s say­ing this was prefer­able to white ones? Since then, minifig­ures have be­come in­creas­ingly di­verse – from the first fig­ures with nat­u­ral skin tone in 2003 (Lando Cal­ris­sian from Star Wars and NBA bas­ket­ball play­ers) to 2016’s in­au­gu­ral wheel­chair. LEGO minifig­ures have also done their bit for un­stereo­typ­ing gen­der roles with the likes of fe­male fire­fight­ers and nin­jas, through to fa­thers equipped with baby car­ri­ers.

‘The num­ber of minifig­ures avail­able has risen to more than 8,000’


Did you know that eight dif­fer­ent moulds are used for the pro­duc­tion of ev­ery minifig­ure? Two sets of these moulds are the same in de­sign but re­versed to mould the right and left minifig­ure arms and legs! The pre­ci­sion that goes into these moulds is ex­cep­tional, and be­cause the orig­i­nal moulds are al­most iden­ti­cal to the ones used

to­day, minifig­ures from 1978 can be mixed and matched with the more modern char­ac­ters from to­day!


LEGO minifig­ures may be made for fun but there’s a se­ri­ous side to them as well. By of­fer­ing an end­less choice of role­play pos­si­bil­i­ties, they’re de­signed to let chil­dren play in­ven­tively, en­gage with dif­fer­ent emo­tions and tell their own sto­ries


The real suc­cess story of LEGO has been its con­stant abil­ity to adapt and be at the fore­front of in­no­va­tion and cre­ative play. This year LEGO Mins­d­storms is set to top the toy store charts by giv­ing chil­dren the power to cre­ate and com­mand their own ro­botic LEGO crea­tures, ve­hi­cles, ma­chines and in­ven­tions! By com­bin­ing LEGO el­e­ments with a pro­gram­mable brick, mo­tors and sen­sors, chil­dren can make their

cre­ations walk, talk, grab, think, shoot and do al­most any­thing you can imag­ine. The set comes with build­ing in­struc­tions for 17 awe­some LEGO ro­botic de­signs in­clud­ing a hu­manoid ro­bot, a shoot­ing scor­pion, a slith­er­ing snake, a fork lift, a race truck, an elec­tric gui­tar, a walk­ing di­nosaur and many more! Each ro­bot comes com­plete with its own unique fea­tures and a pro­gram that con­trols the ro­bot’s be­hav­iour!

BE­LOW:Space travel has in­spired both chil­dren and LEGO

ABOVE:The time­line of the LEGO minifig­ure

ABOVE: Cap­tion

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