We all love Lego but what matters most to the kids? Why do these little figures have the X factor that cheaper rival companies don’t seem to be able to replicate.
One of the first lessons of Lego that my kids taught me, is that it is all about the Lego Minifigures.
The number of figures is critical to the whole Lego experience. If the latest Ninjago The Green Ninja Mech Dragon had no Minifigures, my son would not be interested. But, it has four including Sensei Wu so “everything is awesome”.
In 1978 Lego introduced seven different Minifigures into Lego set. At the time, they probably had no idea how influential the minifigures would be. For the first 11 years the heads had a simple facial expression. It consisted of two solid black dots for eyes and a smile, painted in solid black – a bit like a smiley.
The Minifigures have evolved since I was a kid. The 1989 Pirate Minifigure was the first to look different because he has a different facial expression. He also has a hook for a hand and peg leg. Lego have an ingenious way of making even the bad guys look friendly which is part of the reason why they have become so collectable.
The first Minifigures packs (series 1) were introduced in 2010. Since then, Minifigure popularity has grown massively. In 2015 LEGO made a staggering 23 Minifigures per second. A new series is usually released every three to four months. It is the turn of Ninjago Minifgiure right now as the Lego Ninjago movie is coming soon.
One of the reasons that Minifigures are popular Opening is that the figure inside is always a surprise. Actually in the early packs you could identify the Minifigure figure by the bar code. I have discovered that if you really want a specific figure, then visit a Lego store directly. If the Minifigure that you want is not available over the counter, the staff can sometimes identify the characters in the packaging. If going to a shop is too old school, then shop online.
Lego Minifigurines are not just popular on earth. In 2001, Lego blasted 300 alien Mini figures into orbit onto the International Space Station. In 2015, Denmark blasted off Danish astronaut, Andreas Mogensen, took with him 20 Lego Minifigurines to keep him company. Each figurine had the unique IrIss logos on it; Iriss was the Greek goddess Iris who linked humanity with the cosmos.
Other collectable Lego minifigures
There are plenty of highly collectable Minifigures and here is why it is a good idea to collect them in a safe place.
Lego can be used to remember special events. This is the Dad Network so you may be interested to know that Lego gave birth to a minifigure baby. The baby is a scaled down version of the regular Minifigure but it is different because the arms and legs don’t move. Announce your pregnancy with a Lego Minifigure!
As the inventor of a sport themed toys, I was inspired by the 2012 Olympics in London. Lego released a set of Minifigurines to mark occasion. I remember my wife was always a bit taken by Tom Daley’s skimpy swimming trunks – even the Lego version. In hindsight, I wish I had collected the Team GB Lego set. The team is estimated to be worth $1,150 for the entire collection.
There are other sporty characters in the range. There was a tennis player in series 7 which would be great for my wife, a keen tennis player. I love the surfer in the series 17 and it would make a great present for my surfer buddy. It also reminds me of the original movie “Point Break”. Blimey, I might possibly be showing my age by referencing that old classic movie!
I am not sure Lego support specific teams. There are Football Lego Minifigures, but as far as I am aware they are only available in the Lego City range. Nevertheless, if you support a specific team or player, you could look out for the specialist Lego on-line stores that customise figures for you, such as minifigs.me
I did find an exception. One of the most collectable Lego sport stars is a special edition Boston Red Sox Mini figure. The minifigure was handed out to kids at a one-off game in 1999. They are now estimated to be worth $500 each so although the Red Sox aren’t my team, I wish I had one.
The most expensive Lego Minifigure
Since I started researching this article, I am looking at Lego in a new way. Whenever my kids open a Lego Minifigure set, I watch with my money goggles on. Could it be a special character that will one day pay for their university fees? Should I be setting the Lego aside in a vault for safe keeping, or let it loose in a toy box? These little guys can make money.
There are lots of prized figures but Mr Gold is the most expensive Minifigure in auction so far. He is so popular because only 5,000 Mr Golds were released. They were randomly packed into series 10. Mr Gold looks like Lego aristocracy with his gold chrome plated figure and a top hat, monocle and a jewel-topped cane. This little gent is estimated to be worth $1,100.
In series 17, Lego included a mystery character. It was the first time Lego has kept a character secret. Let me ruin the surprise, as the collection is now over, by telling you what it was. Skip the next paragraph if you don’t want to know.
It was a highwayman, dressed in black with a cape and mask, he was possibly too cute for a highwayman but he was very awesome.
Could the international mystery man be the next sought after collectable?
As the soundtrack to the Lego movie reminds us, Lego is “awesome” and it keeps on getting more “awesome”. It is a great toy for dads and kids alike, that’s why I like it. I get a buzz from seeing the new collections and I know Lego is educational and fun for my kids so I don’t mind spending a little money on it. Learn Lego at an early age and kids are developing skills to become a great engineer, that is what I tell myself. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. If you kids are struggling to count to ten, just ask them to count the the number of characters in a Lego set. There is a lot to learn from Lego.
Nick Farnsworth regularly writes for the Dad Network He is also a toy inventor. His sports themed toys for babies, Little Sport Star, are available on Amazon in the UK and USA, and in Toys R Us, USA, Kohls and Barnes and Noble. He is also a stay at home dad.