LEGO and Disney through the ages...

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Mickey Mouse

Mickey Mouse

©2016 LEGO Group

Ahead of my upcoming extensive review of the 71012 LEGO Minifigures - The Disney Series and the series' official release tomorrow on May 1st, I'm taking a look back at where it all began.

So where DID it all begin? When some huge stuff like a licensed minifigure series and the direct-to-consumer 71040 Cinderella Castle is imminent, you have to wonder about what lead up to it; and The LEGO Group and The Walt Disney Company's relationship goes back further than you think!

To fully explore what has happened, we will have to go all the way back...

...to when LEGO was still making wooden toys years and years ago! This pull-along version of Mickey Mouse's loyal pet dog Pluto was released at an unknown time. Quite ancient!


Duplo

In 1999, when by that point LEGO was known as a constuction toy, they had their first licensed toy line with Disney: the Winnie the Pooh Duplo subtheme. Yup, it was Duplo! There were also sets in 2000 and 2001, and the line returned in 2011 for the new film.

My example pick for this is 2982 Pooh's Birthday. Looks pretty classic, right?

But LEGO didn't stop there; later on we got Duplo lines based on the Disney Junior series Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins, and new this year, Miles from Tomorrowland. Sets based on the 2013 film Planes also arrived in stores.

Disney icon Mickey Mouse experienced his own System theme in 2000, with Duplo-like figures but juniorized bricks and builds. Also released that same year was Baby Mickey, featuring some very unorthodox pieces. A one-off Duplo set, 10531 Mickey Mouse and Friends, released in 2012. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Duplo sets appeared in 2014, with more in 2015 and this year.


Star Wars

Also coming from LEGO in 1999 is the well-known Star Wars theme. While the theme did not release as Disney-licensed upon its introduction, Disney purchased the franchise's production company Lucasfilm in October 2012; thus welcoming it and its LEGO theme into the Disney family. In 2015, the Disney logo began to appear on LEGO Star Wars set boxes, confirming its designation as a Disney theme.

Through Disney, Star Wars started a new sequel trilogy that began with December 2015's Episode VII The Force Awakens, and the animated TV series Star Wars Rebels premiered on Disney XD in 2014.


Pixar

In 2010, Disney finally renewed their license with LEGO and brought their Pixar Animation Studios subsidiary into the mix, first with System Toy Story and then its associated Duplo sets to promote the third film in the beloved series. My personal favorite set released was 7590 Woody and Buzz to the Rescue, pictured at left.

Pixar's Cars also received the System and Duplo brick treatment, with sets for it and its sequel from 2010 to 2012. 8200 Radiator Springs Lightning McQueen is a great little set I'm using for an example. Although not as cool as Toy Story, Cars was a fun theme and I look forward to any potential sets for the franchise's third movie and Toy Story's fourth.

LEGO's coverage of Pixar continued with last year's brilliant Ideas set 21303 WALL·E, which suffered unfortunate problems in the build that demanded a fix and a new version of the set.

As well, this year sees the introduction of Mr. Incredible and Syndrome from 2004's The Incredibles and the return of Buzz Lightyear and the Pizza Planet Alien, all in the new CMF series!

Pixar Minifigs


Live-action

In 2010 as well, LEGO began to take inspiration from Disney's then-upcoming live-action movies for sets. That year brought sets based on the box office bomb Prince of Persia.

Much more enjoyed was the Pirates of the Carribean theme in May 2011, which released alongside the fourth film On Stranger Tides and even received a video game! My pick is 4184 The Black Pearl. In the summer of 2013, The Lone Ranger was released. While the movie was generally disliked, the LEGO sets based on it were pretty well-received.


Marvel Super Heroes

LEGO and Marvel Comics fans went wild when in LEGO acquired the license to make sets based on the ever-expanding company's work that came to be bought by Disney in 2009.

The sets first got released in 2012 to coincide with The Avengers, and we have to come to see many more since then; pulling from the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well as the Disney XD animated series Ultimate Spider-Man.

The recently-released subtheme based on next month's Captain America: Civil War may contain some of the best sets yet!


Television

Interestingly enough, a LEGO Games set based on the hit 2007-2015 Disney show Phineas and Ferb was to be released in 2012. Nothing happened with it other than an online discovery of the instructions.

But I do wonder whether we would have seen a full theme based on Phineas and Ferb or not; particularly if 3868 had released and sold well! Maybe if there is a Disney Series 2 eventually, we will be seeing Perry the Platypus included...


Disney Princess

In 2014, LEGO and Disney developed a girl-focused theme together with the release of the Disney Princess line; the first theme after Friends to make use of the mini-doll figure design! It features classic characters like Cinderella and Aurora alongside newer ones like Rapunzel and Elsa. Even before that however, Duplo sets came out in 2012.

The set shown here you could have seen coming from a mile away: 41062 Elsa's Sparkling Ice Castle!

Disney Princess Ariel from The Little Mermaid, as well as her adversary Ursula, join in on the CMF series.


Beyond

And here we are now, with eighteen characters from across the Disney universe immortalized in minifigure form being available! There's something for everyone.

It's quite a sight, isn't it, and it makes me hopeful that the two companies will keep their healthy relationship for years to come so we can see so many more magical sets! After all, as Walt Disney has taught us: dreams really do come true.

Stay tuned very soon for my review of The Disney Series...

39 comments on this article

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By in Netherlands,

Nice article. I can't wait for any news on Cindirella Castle.

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By in United States,

I wonder if there'll be Toy Story 4 sets...

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By in Netherlands,

For the Mickey System subtheme it looks like they dusted off some Fabuland molds. And I'm pretty sure they did exactly that.

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By in United States,

Nicely written. Good coverage on the Disney-related sets. Disney's association with LEGO does go back some years...

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By in United States,

I enjoy set 7590 Woody and Buzz to the Rescue as an excellent display piece (my favorite movie aside from Jurassic Park and Star Wars), I hope to see Maleficent on a system set eventually (no minidoll) as it will make an excellent character to lead half my medieval evil forces (the other half is being lead by Saruman as of now and they are seeking an alliance with Emperor Palpatine and Thanos). I only want that the prices of SW sets and quality does not suffer.

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By in United States,

I LOVE Phineas and Ferb!! Why did the not come out with it. :(

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By in United States,

^ You and me both!

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By in Ireland,

There was also a Duplo set/book combo (10579) that was released in 2012.

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By in United States,

Dang, those Toy Story sets are fantastic. LEGO! We need more of them!

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By in United States,

Great article! Really excited for the Disney minifigures coming out tomorrow. I definitely regret not being into LEGO when the Toy Story sets came out.

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By in United States,

Does anyone know why the Disney logo is on Star Wars sets and merchandise but not Marvel?

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By in United States,

@ResIpsaLoquitur Woah, neat! Added.

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By in United States,

what about Prince of Persia?

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By in United States,

^ Mentioned.

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By in United States,

Great article. Can't wait to get my hands on the figs and even more excited to see pics of the castle.

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By in United States,

Cool, thanks for the edit!

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By in United States,

LEGO's coverage of Pixar also showed up in last year's amazing Wall-E set, one of my favorites!

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By in United States,

^ Gah, how could I forget!

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By in United States,

I have all the Disney figs except Alice, Daisy, Mickey, and Captain Hook!

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By in Canada,

I would have loved the Pirates of the Caribbean sets! Fantastic ships!

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By in Singapore,

Well written article! I'm very excited about this upcoming minifigure series!

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By in United States,

Nice! I might add that as long as you're sort of retroactively including Star Wars from the beginning of the theme in 1999, even though it wasn't Disney property until 2012, you might also note that Disney's 2012 acquisition of Lucasfilm included not only Star Wars, but Indiana Jones as well (and that given LEGO's good relations with both Lucasfilm and its new corporate parent, along with the reported sales strength of the 2008-2009 LEGO Indy line, it seems likely the theme will return with the release of the fifth film in a few years).

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By in Denmark,

Cool. I really like this. Great job. There's so many cool Disney sets over the years and they only make more. It's really exciting which movie inspired scenes that can come in LEGO sets. I'm hope there will be an serie 2 with Disney Minifigures like LEGO did with the Simpsons. An if they make sets from Disneyland and other Disney parks like 71040. LEGO can't make an mistake if they make Disney sets.
But what I can see, so it's not all the Marvel sets that are Disney's. For example is there few sets for X-Men and The Amazing Spider-Man, where the movies is from 20th Century Fox and Sony.

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By in Denmark,

@Galactic Bricks: It's not only the LEGO Marvel there's no Disney logo. On all Star Wars merchandise without LEGO there's the Disney logo on. There's no logo on Marvel products like LEGO. I think it's because there's many companies that make Marvel movies today. It's not only Disney but also 20th Century Fox and Sony. It's really confusing, and I don't understand it too. But what I know, so are all Marvel sets Disney's except The Amazing Spider-Man (polybag) and few X-Men sets.

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By in Russian Federation,

I definitely want "The Incredibles 2" sets - that Mr Incredible and Syndrome figures are awesome!

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By in United States,

^^^ The two X-Men sets released so far are based on the comics, so still Disney. That makes the Amazing Spider-Man 2 polybag the only non-Disney licensed Marvel Super Heroes set.

^ Awesome!

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By in Denmark,

@TheBrickPal: What? But these two X-Men sets are based on the movie from 20th Century Fox. They were available when the movie came out. I don't remember the movie's name. I'm right? Or I'm confused now.

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By in United Kingdom,

@KyloRen0806 It may interest you to know that the Disney logo is not on the UK Blu-Ray release of The Force Awakens (and I assume this goes for all releases in all locations). However, to essentially confirm what you've said, my Star Wars novels (largely Egmont UK releases) have Disney logos on - even my issues of Star Wars Insider, LEGO Star Wars magazine and Star Wars: Rebels magazine all have Disney logos at some point.

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By in United States,

@KyloRen0806:
The X-Men sets released were coincidental to the movies, but were not official licensed movie products. The logo appears nowhere on the box art or anywhere else, neither does the Fox logo.

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By in United States,

^ They weren't the movie versions of the characters, either. The sets just happened to be released near the movies.

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By in Denmark,

@Loerwyn: Yay that's right. I bought the DVD and Blu-Ray version of The Force Awakens in Denmark, and there's no Disney logo on. But that's the only thing I haven't seen with Disney's logo on a products released since they released the products in 2015.
@Rodiziorobs/TheBrickPal: There's no logo on the Marvel Super Heroes sets. No logo for Disney, 20th Century Fox and/or Sony. I haven't seen X-Men, so I don't know any things about it. I know only what I can see. I thought it was connected with the movie. But you're clever than me on LEGO. But we can all agree that the Amazing Spider-Man 2 polybag isn't a LEGO Disney product, right?

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By in United States,

I believe it has officially been stated that the Disney logo was not added to The Force Awakens for the sake of the fans. And also of note is that the Disney logo is nowhere to be found on the box art for the new Battlefront and Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens video games. But that in turn begs the question; why is the logo present on every other piece of Star Wars merchandise?

Regarding the Electro polybag: I believe at least the first Amazing Spider-Man film was actually licensed out to the Mega Bloks company. So it's very odd how Lego was able to obtain the license for that polybag.

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By in United States,

It's likely Lego first started making the wooden Pluto in the late 30's or possibly early 40's. This is based on the logo style and Pluto's overall popularly . It would be made until the mid 50's. The item number is 427.

Great article. Very interesting and a great walk down memory lane.

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By in United States,

Phineas And Ferb seemed like a no-brainer since the whole show revolved around P and F BUILDING stuff! I mean, come on! :D

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By in Australia,

You forgot to mention that 2013 wasn't the first time Lego acquired the rights to Marvel, as they previously had a license back in the 2000s with the Spiderman sets from Lego Studios, as well as sets based on Spiderman 2 back in 2004.

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By in United States,

^ Those were Sony-licensed.

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By in Norway,

I'm a bit surprised that this article only talks about disney licensed sets from 1999 and upwards. I was expecting (from the title) a retrospective look from the start to now. (I remember being a small child and having a rather strange set of transparent bricks with paper disney figures to be set in them - I was wondering if maybe, *maybe* something like that might be included)
there was others too from the 80's.. like Fabuland! holy moly.

maybe an idea for a different article? :)

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