What is a Minifigure?
A Lego Minifigure, or “minifig,” is a small posable figure of a person, animal, or being (like an alien). Most minifigs have rotating arms, legs, hands, and feet. They can represent ordinary to famous people.
While Lego building sets often include minifigs, you can also buy individual minifigs. Both children and adults collect Lego Minifigures. They are customizable by taking parts from different minifigs and mixing and matching the parts with other minifigs.
History of Lego Minifigures
In the 1960s and early 1970s, the Lego Group focused on model building – houses, cars, trains. However, the company did not have occupants or users of these models. In 1975, Lego launched its first figurine. It had a blank yellow heard, a torso with arm-shaped bumps, and one single solid leg. The parts (arms, legs, and head) were not moveable.
In 1978, Lego produced an improved figurine, called Minifigures or minifigs. Lego included these minifigs in its Castle, Space, and Town sets. Unlike the earlier immoveable figure, the Minifigure had moving arms and legs, hands that could hold accessories, and a face with eyes and a mouth. These minifigs also had interchangeable torsos, legs, and arm pieces. The first minifigs did not have gender or racial components.
New Minifigure Elements
In 1989, Lego offered new minifig elements by including hooks for hands and peg legs for Lego Pirates. Thereafter, Lego began producing minifigs with different facial expressions, facial hair, eye patches, makeup, and sunglasses. The skin tone remained yellow. Then, in 1997 with Willa the Witch of the Fright Knights, facial expressions became more complex. The new expressions included open mouths and detailed eyes.
In 2002-2003, Lego introduced minifigs with spring-loaded legs for its basketball sets. It also introduced different-sized legs, such as short legs for children.
Minifigure Skin Tones
In 2003, Lego released the first Minifigures with natural skin tones. Lego also created minifigs in the likeness of living people. In 2004, Lego expanded natural skin tones to all its licensed products (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, etc.).
Where to buy
As previously mentioned, minifigs are often included in Lego building sets, such as Creator Expert. However, you can buy individual Lego Minifigures on Amazon. If you want customized minifigs, like my Game of Thrones or Trump minifigs, Etsy is a great site.
Book: Lego Minifigure, Year by Year A Visual History, Gregory Farshtey with Daniel Lipkowitz (2013 by DK Publishing)