The Collectable Minifigures range has been punctuated by some unusual series but 71014 DFB German Football Team is one of the oddest yet, representing sixteen players from the German squad in celebration of Euro 2016. We initially thought that the range would only be available in Germany, Austria and Switzerland but it now transpires that LEGO Stores in the rest of Europe have them in stock, although possibly not in great volume.
I have been able to acquire a full set so can bring you the first review on the Internet of all sixteen minifigures! Read on and find out whether they are worth adding to your collection...
Germany are the current holders of the FIFA World Cup and this success has been attributed in no small part to their current manager, Joachim Löw. I am pleased that LEGO recognised his contribution when selecting which members of the squad to include in this series and his distinctive appearance compliments the uniformity of the rest of the players when all sixteen are displayed together. The minifigure is easily recognisable as Löw, due in particular to the open collared shirt which is printed on his torso and has become a trademark of his apparently relaxed attitude.
Löw is the only minifigure in this series not to come with a football. Instead he is equipped with a printed 2x2 tile featuring a tactical board design. His head is printed with some wrinkles and a friendly smile while the black hair piece approximates his true hairstyle quite effectively. Although the figure is clearly representative of Löw when it is assembled, the individual components could easily be used for creating other minifigures.
Manuel Neuer is widely considered one of the best goalkeepers of all time and he has been Germany's first choice for this position since 2010. His head and hair are fairly generic but they suit him quite nicely in my opinion while the black shirt worn by German goalkeepers is an exceptionally good match for the jersey which will be worn at Euro 2016. The Adidas and German football team logos are present alongside some white stripes and the back of the torso is printed with the player's name and number.
His shorts are also decorated with the insignia of the German national team, although I was slightly disappointed to find that his legs are not dual-moulded but are printed on three sides instead. Like Joachim Löw and the rest of his teammates, Neuer stands on a white base which is printed with four silver stars. He also comes with a football, as do the fourteen outfield players.
Four defenders are included in the series, the first of which is Shkodran Mustafi. This hair piece is currently exclusive to Mustafi in reddish brown and closely replicates his true appearance, as does his head which is printed with some thick facial hair. The heads of Benedikt Höwedes and Mats Hummels are also decorated with some stubble and they wear the same hair components, albeit in different colours.
This spiky hair has appeared before in black but never in medium dark flesh as it does on Höwedes. I am not sure why Hummels features a slightly darker skin tone than his counterpart as this does not reflect his true ethnicity, although it is nice to see some variety as these figures would look very similar otherwise.
The Jerome Boateng minifigure is equally impressive and I am pleased to see a new expression printed on a reddish brown head as relatively few are available at the moment. I like the hair piece which has been used and it is probably the best likeness that can be achieved for his actual hair without creating a new element, although it is not a perfect match.
All fourteen outfield players share the same torso printing on the front while the back is decorated with their respective names and squad numbers. Their arms are dual moulded with short sleeves and some exposed skin, the colour of which corresponds with that of their head and legs. The printing on the front and back of each torso looks brilliant but I should mention that the silver stripe running down the front is far less pronounced on the real shirts than it is on the minifigure.
The same is true of the midfielders, eight of which are included. This seems like a striking imbalance to me but their selection of players cannot be faulted as all eight are regulars in the German starting eleven. Their torsos and legs are identical but for their skin colours and the fact that Bastian Schweinsteiger is identified as the captain by the German flag printed on his left sleeve, representing the captain's armband.
The word spielführer, meaning team captain, is also printed on the armband which shows excellent attention to detail on the part of the graphic designer.
Schweinsteiger's head is a good likeness for the real player and his hair piece is an appropriate choice too. This component has not appeared in blonde before and André Schürrle's hair falls into the same category as it also appears in blonde for the first time so is potentially useful for creating other minifigures.
Mesut Özil makes use of the same hair piece but in black, a colour first used by Superman in 76044 Clash of the Heroes. Like many of their teammates, Özil and Schürrle have stubble printed on their faces but I think they show a reasonable resemblance to their real life counterparts which is no easy feat.
Sami Khedira's skin tone is a little darker than most of the figures which replicates his Tunisian ancestry and his face printing is also faithful to reality. I am not totally convinced by the hair piece which has been selected as Khedira's hair is fairly long and this is not captured properly. Nevertheless, the beard is recognisable as Khedira's and I like the minifigure.
Emmet's unique hair piece is finally re-used in a new colour here for attacking midfielder Toni Kroos and I think it looks splendid. Both his head and hair are faithful to reality and I am glad to get yet another hair element in a new colour.
Mario Götze is similarly impressive, particularly with regard to his face which is unlike any other in the range while his hair is new in reddish brown, a useful colour. These two pieces are among the most reusable of the series and are also a good likeness for Götze so are successful in all regards.
Christoph Kramer has an enormous grin which is rather distracting, although the detail of the facial hair around his mouth makes up for this in my opinion and it is nice to see differing emotions on display as some players are more serious while others are smiling. His hair piece is suitable in its colour and shape but for the fact that it is swept to the wrong side which is a very minor issue.
The eighth and final midfielder is Marco Reus. His head is also printed with some light stubble and he shares the medium dark flesh hair colour of Kramer, although this time using the combed piece which is worn by a couple of other minifigures in this series. A more unkempt component might have been appropriate but this is a reasonable compromise as it is best to avoid reusing the hair pieces too often.
Only two strikers are included, Thomas Müller and Max Kruse. Müller is one of the weaker minifigures in my opinion as his head makes him look much older than he is and does not really reflect his appearance. His hair, on the other hand, looks great and the wrinkles printed on the face do permit a wider range of uses than some of the heads which could only be used for younger minifigures.
While Thomas Müller's head is a little disappointing, Max Kruse's is one of my favourites. It perfectly captures his stubbly beard and his hair piece is an equally impressive likeness, although a slightly darker colour might have been more appropriate, perhaps even reddish brown.
A great deal of thought must have gone into the design of these minifigures and I think it shows. Differences in appearance are often fairly subtle and this is reflected by the figures in this series, although they can also be differentiated by more than just their name and squad number. LEGO has never attempted to recreate so many real people before, instead representing movie or comic book characters as minifigures, but I think this effort has been very successful on the whole.
All sixteen minifigures come with an attractive base, featuring the four stars which represent Germany's four World Cup victories, while fifteen of them are equipped with a football. This is decorated with a traditional truncated icosahedral pattern and Joachim Löw comes with a printed tactical board.
Feeling the bags
Telling these minifigures apart by feeling the bags is more difficult than any previous series as most can only be distinguished by their hair pieces and some even share the same styles, as listed below.
- 23186 - Mesut Özil, André Schürrle, Mario Götze, Christoph Kramer, Max Kruse
- 99930 - Shkodran Mustafi, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Marco Reus
- 18228 - Benedikt Höwedes, Mats Hummels, Thomas Müller
- 15500 - Joachim Löw
- 62810 - Manuel Neuer
- 92081 - Sami Khedira
- 21778 - Jerome Boateng
- 15443 - Toni Kroos
A certain amount of luck is required as a result of these similarities, although there are some techniques which might increase your chances of feeling for the minifigures you want.
Joachim Löw is by far the easiest figure to find as he is the only one to include a 2x2 tile rather than a football. Manuel Neuer, Jérôme Boateng, Toni Kroos and Sami Khedira are also relatively simple as they all sport unique hair pieces, although some of these are quite tricky to differentiate given the relatively subtle distinctions between them. For instance, Toni Kroos' hair feels a lot like that of Schweinsteiger, Mustafi and Reus but features a bump on the top which can be felt through the packet.
The rest of the minifigures require some guesswork. I felt through about thirty packets yesterday, dividing them according to their hair pieces, before purchasing five with piece 23186, three with piece 99930 and three containing piece 18228. The odds of choosing eleven different minifigures and therefore completing the set without any duplicates are slim and in the likely event that you are not immediately successful, it is mathematically best to buy subsequent minifigures one at a time until you have all sixteen.
Duplicates are almost inevitable but this is not a major problem as most minifigures come with an exclusive hair piece and all sixteen offer new facial designs which can easily be used elsewhere. Furthermore, the limited availability of this series is likely to create demand for the figures on the aftermarket so selling or trading unwanted minifigures is a useful option.
I was unsure what to make of these minifigures when they were first revealed as some of the players look very similar and the absence of new parts reduces their appeal to some extent. However, any reservations I had have quickly evaporated and I am desperately hoping that we see some similar series in future as this seems like a formula which could be replicated very effectively for other teams and sports.
Their limited availability and the difficulty involved in feeling the bags is frustrating but if you are a football fan then I think these minifigures are worth picking up, for their exclusivity if nothing else. Alternatively, they are an excellent source of new hair pieces and head prints so it might be worth finding some if they are in your area or looking on Bricklink. These figures definitely offer an extra flavour to a Collectable Minifigure collection and I wholeheartedly recommend purchasing some if you get the opportunity.
What do you think of this series and what other sports teams would you like to see in minifigure form?