Club magazine contains interesting article (Shock! Horror!)

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As well as revealing the gingerbread man, the UK Club magazine for girls contains an interesting article on the history of minifigs, which is unusual because usually it's just full of glorified adverts and comic strips.

Actually, I suppose this is little more than an advert for Mr. Gold, but it does make for interesting reading. Shame then that it contains at least one error, in the first entry on the timeline: 1975 "The original LEGO figures were DUPLO Figures". Really? The first Duplo figures appeared some years later, in 1977, and of course the armless and faceless minifigs came in regular LEGOLAND sets. Oh well, good effort LEGO: I guess none of those writing or proof reading the magazine had been around in 1975 :-) (Thanks to Nick W who spotted the error).

More articles like that in the Club magazine please, LEGO, but accurate next time :-)

32 comments on this article

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By in United Kingdom,

I thought the duplo thing was maybe an early branding thing I wasn't aware of... Guess not.

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By in United States,

Oh, this was also an online thing. It is an interesting read.

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By in United Kingdom,

I flicked through my daughters this morning but didn't spot the Gingerbread CMF image.
I've had anther look and he looks pretty cool with a new head mould.

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By in United Kingdom,

I wish lego had club magazines for hardcore collectors with none of that comic strip qnd puzzle rubbish.

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By in Finland,

Well, in the Finnish edition, when telling about Exo-Force minifigs, "Anime eyes" were translated into Finnish word meaning "Animal eyes"...

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By in United Kingdom,

Uhmmm... if you check the 1977 UK Duplo set listings, some of them link back to earlier US sets listed as 1976 releases... so it COULD be those Duplo figs were available in some form in '75. The database seems a little murky when you go that far back.

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By in United Kingdom,

There's a tradition of howlers in the Lego club magazine. Last time round, they featured pics of the Character Building Doctor Who figs / parts in the photos-of-kids'-builds section, i.e. Lego promoting a clone brand. Face palm, as they say these days.

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By in United Kingdom,

Heheh, I think that rates more than a face-palm... could even be worth a full head-desk :D

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By in United States,

Where is this gingerbread man you speak of?

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By in United States,

Ah, I saw i haha

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By in United States,

And sadly that's not the correct answer either. I've been working on the phylogenetics of lego minifigs (yes, you heard correctly) and based on set releases I can say the following -

Lego's first attempt at figures were just bricks. These can be seen as early as 1973 in Basic Set 2. I've dubbed these "protofigs". Protofigs existed until 1977 and occasionally reappear in small sets like 1626-Angel.

In 1974 Lego made their first figures - though they werent minifig scale. I haven't come across an official name for them. Due to their large size, I've dubbed them "maxifigs". See 200-Lego family for an example. Maxifigs are a great example of a transitional model. The features are similar to minifigs, but much larger.

We get the 'no arms, no face' minifigs in 1975 and they persist until about 1978 when they divide into the 3 classic themes - space, city and castle.

Duplo starts in either 1976 or 1977. I'm not sure which because I haven't look at all possible sets for 1976 yet. But these are the early duplos - square bodies, no arms. Duplo minifigs don't actually show up until about 1983 with set 2705.

Two other lines come and go in the 1970s. (its clear lego was experimenting with what the optimal figure would be). Fabuland shows up in 1979 with a bunch of sets and animal headed figures. Then in 1981 'Basic figs' (which i believe is their name for them) show up as part of the LEGO basic line (333, 385). These look a lot like PlaySkool figures and I guess are supposed to be a transitional shift from duplo to minifigs. the basic figs lasted a lot longer than I thought they would - the last set I found for them was in 1991 (1881 - Play bucket)

So although the club magazine poster is woefully inadequate, it did do at least one thing. It got me interested enough to go research this all on my own. :) When I get done I hope to use this as a demonstration of evolutionary diversity!

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By in United States,

^Interesting.

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By in United Kingdom,

Why am I not surprised that LEGO managed to make a mistake in their own article? Nevertheless, an interesting read, and certainly a welcome feature if the Club Magazine will continue to move in this direction.

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By in United Kingdom,

Another big fail was in the 'friends' copy the front cover image is really low-res. Oops!

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By in France,

Funny how the fan community is more informed about Lego facts than TLC themselves ! ...

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By in United Kingdom,

The magazine is contracted out to an external company. They might be able to produce it to a deadline for a reasonable price, but knowledge of the subject matter is not their strongpoint.

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By in Germany,

Also, the Pirates figures from 1989 did not have "different facial expressions" - they just had facial hair and eye patches.

When was the first time a Lego figure showed anything other than the standard smile?

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By in Netherlands,

Spotted another error in the 6th entry on the timeline (2 errors at the same time actually): "In the year 2000 the first moulded minifigure was produced: JarJar Binks in the LEGO Star Wars™ line."

This should of course be "In the year 1999 the first moulded minifigure head was produced (or better yet 'released'): JarJar Binks' head in the LEGO Star Wars™ line."

Not that I care much about JarJar, but at least the article should state it right when mentioning him.

When it comes to new entire minifig moulds I guess we are talking about the 1999 Star Wars Battle Droid, R2-D2 or the 1999 all-in-one-piece version of Sebulba, are we not?

I'm so confused....! :-|

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By in United States,

@hewhocaves
If we're talking figures we should start at the real beginning with 271 Traffic Police and 270 Cycles and Motorcycles. The brick built figures show up in catalogs, advertisements and idea books first in the 50's. I'd have to check, but I believe the first set to feature brick built figures is 905 Doll Set.

I think the maxi-figures were officially called "People" based on a some 70's catalogs I've seen. Something "Homemaker" because of the line they filled in. Until '78 Lego officially called smaller figures mini-figures. After '78 I've not heard how they are viewed, but the '75-'78 mini-figure often called early mini-figures, proto mini-figures, stiffs, stiff mini-figure and faceless mini-figures.

The Basic figures are also known as finger puppet figures. Catalog at the time show kids with these on their fingers.

Two that you are forgetting are the Technic figures and the 4+ figures.

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By in United States,

@Ben J
The earliest I can think of offhand is the Fright Knight line. The Bat Lord has a frown and the Witch's mouth is wide open.

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By in Denmark,

@Ben J
1996 was the first time minifigures had different expressions, with the bandits from the western theme, and Timmy from Time Cruisers with white eyes and a nose.

Has anyone else noticed the classic astronaut has yellow airtanks?

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By in United Kingdom,

^ ... and the Futuron Mk III helmet from 1987, not the Mk I (1978-81, only available in white, red and yellow) or the Mk II (1982-86, added black and blue)... the ONLY authentic Classic Space helmets.

Sorry, had to nerd out for moment, there. That's one of my bugbears on Ebay

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By in United States,

^^^^I remember seeing catalogs in the US in the late '70's, when sets like #588-1 were coming out, that differentiated the new minifigs with posable arms and legs as "mini-action figures". Once the original molded minifigures were retired, "mini-figure" became the standard name for today's little LEGO people (at least, according to the catalogs from the '80's).

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By in United States,

@LusiferSam - I didn't forget about those - but i was being tangental enough as it is. I wanted to show that if they wanted to do a figure timeline it could be really interesting, which I think I showed with what I had.

I'll go with "people" from now on then. :) Thanks!

yeah, I saw the "finger puppet figs" somewhere but i didnt know if that was what they were officially called or if that was what they were called by fans because of how they were marketed.

I didn't see either 271 or 270 in brickset's catalogue. Hopefully you can indulge me with a link so I can fill in the gap.

thanks!

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By in France,

@hewhocaves;

Maxifigs/Maxifigures are usually used to refer to the large minifigures such as the Giant Troll from Castle, the Wampa from Star Wars, Hulk from Super Heroes, the Cave Troll from the Lord of the Rings, the Goblin King from the Hobbit, and by extension, although not really, Dogpound from TMNT.

Personally, my mom lived in an era where the "Homemaker" and "Building sets with little people" theme was booming. She has the set "Zoo (with Baseboard)" and "scooter", which came with a few of these. basically, they compose of:

-A head that connects to a torso via a peg, although this is NOT a Technic Peg, and with a stud on both sides to show ears, and another stud on the top of his head.

-A Torso, I think about a brick thick, connected with arms that hinge at the shoulder and elbow. the hands are attached to the arm via those small ball sockets, which are shaped similarly like a 1x1 circular plate, and has a hole to insert accessories such as spears and staff, although they are a bit to tight.

-Their bodies are completely composed out of bricks, and despite having a general look in the sets, this certainly stimulates children to build their own, interesting bodies.

-Finally, they wear hats, similar to police hats, that can hinge up and down, or hair, that are interestingly double sided, with the boy's hair's other side is for men, and so the girl's hair's other side is for women. These hats and hairs are difficult to legally connect to anything else.

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By in Netherlands,

They are adverticing for mr. gold. What do they think, that we can still find one if the boxes that are gone through by dealers. I still want one to complete my collection, but finding one in my city is not possible, and the prices are still to high to buy one. Thought I could buy one through a advert, it was a fraud. So, still no mr. gold for me.

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By in Germany,

Thanks, LusiferSam and LEGOIndianaMogens.

I think minifigures with white eyes look kind of creepy. I'm glad they stuck with the black eyes for the most part.

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By in United States,

I wasn't aware that a smiley emoticon was the proper way to end a declarative sentence ;-) This stupid Yank has been using a period all these years ;-)

Another great grammar lesson learned through Brickset ;-)

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By in United Kingdom,

Well I've learned something: I have some of those 70s minifigs. I thought they were so old the faces had rubbed off!

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By in Canada,

I, too, wish that Lego Club Magazine had more actual articles in it. I'd like to read something other than ad copy.

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By in United States,

As for minifigure faces without the classic smile in 1989 the female figure in the Pirates line had red lipstick lips as opposed to the black : )

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