On August 25, 1978, the Lego minifigure was born. This was a hugely important transition for Lego. For many years they sold sets allowing builders to create cars or buildings, but something was missing — a human element. The minifig gave them that humanity, and very quickly it became an iconic symbol of the company second only to the brick itself.
The first minifigs had yellow skin and fixed, pleasant expressions. It was not until 1989 that this changed, with a pirates set debuting figures with eye patches, hook hands and peg legs. 1997 saw the minifig’s official entry into the digital realm, starring in the videogame Panic on Lego Island. It was not until 1998 that minifigs with realistic skin tones were released, in conjunction with a new line of sports figures. As of 2004, all licensed products featured minifigs with natural coloration.
Some quick facts: Over four billion minifigs have been manufactured, or nearly four figures are sold every second, for an average of 122 million per year. The very first minifig was a police officer, and he has appeared in 41 different versions in 104 sets. Talk about prolific!
There are a couple of fun events going on to celebrate the anniversary:
GeekDad pals The Brothers Brick have announced a Minifig Photo Contest:
To wish the minifig a happy 30th birthday, I’m pleased to announce that The Brothers Brick is hosting the GO MINIMAN GO Photo Contest. With awesome prizes like 10185 Green Grocer and four copies of 10190 Market Street, there’s some serious brick to be won. You can build a vignette or diorama and submit it in one of four categories that represent the decades in which minifigs have graced Lego sets — from the 1970s through today.
Gizmodo’s contest involves celebrating the minifig by making movies:
To mark the 30th Anniversary of the minifig, Gizmodo is celebrating a video contest with Lego. The objective: to create a movie in honor of the minifig. The short could be made using any technique you want as long as it’s creative and fun. The prizes? Huge ones. First, the most amazing vintage sets ever: the Galaxy Explorer and the Yellow Castle — needless to say, the value of these sets, which are new in their original boxes, goes off the charts. The third prize will be a special set designed by Lego owner Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, plus there will also be smaller vintage space and town sets, a whole bunch of the new vintage minifigure series, and some newer sets for the runner-ups. Yes, a whole brickload of incredible stuff.
The Gizmodo challenge is a partnership with the Lego Group and you can download logos from their promotional site GoMinimanGo.com to put in your videos. There are also fun stuff like trivia and games, plus a fantastic 3-D version of the above video, if you got the specs.