Review: 5005358 Minifigure Factory

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5005358 Minifigure Factory marks the fortieth anniversary of the modern LEGO minifigure and is currently available with purchases of over £55, $75 or €55 at shop.LEGO.com. More than 10,000 minifigures have been released since 1978, five of which are depicted by nanofigures here!

These represent entirely different periods of minifigure design, beginning with the original Police Officer from 1978 and travelling through the eras of Classic Space, Pirates and Collectable Minifigures before concluding with P.I.X.A.L. from NINJAGO. All five characters are easily recognisable, even at this scale. However, some have expressed disappointment that cardboard forms a significant part of the set. That is a fair criticism, although there is a good reason for it which will soon become apparent.

Box and Contents

The set is packaged in a small cardboard box, not unlike previous promotional items such as 5004389 Battle Station. Removing the decorative sleeve reveals that the box is designed to resemble the exterior of a LEGO factory building which is fun and there are no tape seals or thumb tabs so you can open the box without damaging it.

A single instruction booklet is found inside and this includes a short timeline of minifigure history that runs from 1978 and the first minifigure to 2016 when the first baby figure was released! Unfortunately, the timeline includes a fairly obvious error, showing the boy from 2017's 40263 Christmas Town Square as an example of a minifigure from 2002.

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Minifigure

A single LEGO factory worker is included. The minifigure wears a lovely yellow shirt with a small name badge pinned to the front and a LEGO logo on the back. I am pleased to see this element return as it has only appeared in a couple of previous sets, although real LEGO factory employees usually wear branded high visibility jackets or red polo shirts and it might have been nice to see something more accurate in this set.

5005358 Minifigure Factory

The head features a broad smile and is also fairly rare, having appeared in seven other sets, while the dark brown hair piece is very common. A working magnifying glass completes the figure and can be used to see even the smallest details on the five nanofigures included, as demonstrated on the box.

5005358 Minifigure Factory

These nanofigures are undoubtedly the highlight of the set and I think they look superb. They have been well chosen to represent stages in the development of the minifigure but there is a significant chronological distance between the pirate from 1989 and the nurse from the first series of Collectable Minifigures in 2010. Much maligned though the theme is, a Jack Stone nanofigure could have filled that gap perfectly.

Each nanofigure has been printed with impressive detail and they are instantly recognisable, despite the limitations imposed by their tiny scale. Nanofigures do not include hats or hair pieces so those are instead represented by printing which looks marvellous. The torsos are also very detailed, although the positioning of the astronaut's Classic Space logo is incorrect, unfortunately. This set does not include a spare of each nanofigure or any spare pieces at all, presumably because it was manufactured in a factory outside Europe.

The Completed Model

The box forms a vital part of this set and has been integrated quite effectively, forming the exterior of the minifigure factory. I like the printed door and the 1978 plaque above the loading dock is a brilliant detail, making reference to the year that minifigures were introduced. Those who have visited Billund may recognise the yellow minifigure that appears on many of the buildings belonging to LEGO in the town so it is wonderful to see that here.

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Two more minifigure icons are printed on the back of the box along with a window showing the interior and the roof is decorated with some dark grey corrugated sheets. The back of the box also features a separate panel which can slide back and forth, the reason for which becomes clear once the box is open.

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The front of the box folds down to reveal the minifigure production line. That is definitely the most interesting part of the set but the cardboard box forms a useful backdrop and is printed very nicely with some colourful pipes, a wooden pallet and the US patent for the minifigure. It seems strange that the graphic designer did not use the original European patent as the US patent was not submitted until 1979.

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A light bluish grey 6x12 plate forms the base for the production line and this is glued to the cardboard box. I like the 1x4 and 1x2 hazard stripe tiles laid around the conveyor belt, particularly since the latter element is only available in five previous sets and another rare 1x2 tile, printed with a yellow arrow, is also included. Production begins towards the left of the conveyor and a green paint brush is intended to print each nanofigure before they are loaded into the cart at the end of the belt.

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However, the entire conveyor belt assembly slides back and forth so the nanofigures do not pass by the paint brush, rather defeating the purpose of the production line. Technic pins link the conveyor to the cardboard panel on the rear wall, causing each of the five minifigures to appear on a screen as the nanofigures travel along the belt underneath! This is a great idea and it works reasonably well, although the cardboard has not been cut perfectly so partially obscures the year shown below each minifigure.

Overall

I had high expectations for this set but am a little disappointed. I like the minifigure included and even the cardboard box that forms the factory building works remarkably well. However, the production line has been designed around a function which does not work perfectly and I think a more realistic depiction of minifigure production would have been more appealing.

View image at flickr

That having been said, the nanofigures are definitely the most important aspect of 5005358 Minifigure Factory and they are all excellent. I would therefore recommend this set but it does not quite reach the same high standard as 40290 60 Years of the LEGO Brick in my opinion.

I hope you have found this review informative. Let us know by liking this article and share your thoughts on the set in the comments below.

 

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50 comments on this article

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By in United States,

Neat set, but it seems like a lot of money to spend for so little pieces.

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By in United Kingdom,

nice little set , it is what it is , some times the reviews can over anyalyze whats on offer .. I am sure if it had been made to work perfectly no doubt the spend amount to get it would reflect this but having picked up some bit from Manchester this week for the daughter and myself the £55 was soon hit .. We are happy with it so job done

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By in United Kingdom,

Great set and i love the figures but shame you don’t get any extras of the nano figs.

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By in United Kingdom,

well at least they reasled this at the time we are going to spend some money as jurassic world and solo sets come out in couple of days and this looks really good

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By in Germany,

I think that I would have liked this a lot more if we had not just gotten the great VIP FWP set not that long ago. It seems like a big misstep that there was not a way to incorporate them together. Of course I would have like the 60th anniversary of the brick to do the same, but those free builds were really good.

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By in United Kingdom,

I suspect the boy is used to show when short legs were first introduced as opposed to the specific minifig. So the timeline would be showing when spacemen were first introduced, pirates, knights etc. Not checked the dates to confirm this and not sure what the 2000 and 2007 milestones would be.

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By in United States,

It would be cool if someone made a micro city with the trophy figs from this set as people, as well as Ant-Man's nano figure and the NASA guys.

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By in Canada,

Mine was missing the paintbrush :(

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By in United Kingdom,

A thorough review of an interesting set; thanks for taking the time to go in-depth.
A well-known video reviewer made a good point very recently about free promotional sets which are given out for free as freebies: they're free. Yes, you 'have' (but are not forced) to spend a certain amount of money to get the free set, but then you get the sets you paid for + the free set.
There are many, if not all, LEGO sets that aren't perfect, and cost money, so the minor imperfections of a free set are far easier to swallow.
Keep up the good work, LEGO and Brickset!
Edit: also, what sets this set apart from #40290 is absolutely unique parts, meaning it can't be replicated from a collection of bricks. Whether that's an advantage or disadvantage is subjective...

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By in United States,

Perhaps a Johnny Thunder minifig would have been a good one to fill the time gap you are talking about, better than Jack Stone.

Another error in the booklet is the second pirate minifig shown wasn't available until several years later than 1989. The torso first appeared in a 1992 set, and the variant shown in the book came with two Islanders sets in 1994.

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By in United States,

@thisisteekay send in a request for a replacement. You'll get them for free.

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By in Spain,

@natro220 Yes, there is another error in the time line. How can they omit these errors? They have all the information!!

Not Jack Stone, not Johny Thunder to fill the gap in the years. I think they are not so representative...Perhaps Harry Potter is the right minifigure (even if I am not enthusiastic about it).

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By in United States,

@HeriSanmi It appears they purposely steered clear of including licensed figs. Otherwise I agree, Harry Potter or perhaps a Star Wars figure would have made sense.

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By in Austria,

I can't be the only one who thought the Minifig would have medium brown hair, judging from the promo pictures... Everyone has millions of the dark brown one already, but it's pretty rare afaik in medium br.
Shame.
Anyway, looks neat, but the amount of money you have to spend to get it should've been max. 30€.

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By in United States,

I was going to spend enough to get this set, but the cardboard box kills it.

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By in United States,

"A well-known video reviewer made a good point very recently about free promotional sets which are given out for free as freebies: they're free. Yes, you 'have' (but are not forced) to spend a certain amount of money to get the free set, but then you get the sets you paid for + the free set."

The ONLY reason to buy at full RRP direct from LEGO is the freebies. If they are sub-par, it matters. Otherwise I'll just buy from somewhere else and take the 20% discount.

These free set is a big step down from what we are used to. and yes, it is ok to be disappointed by that

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By in Norway,

"...although the positioning of the astronaut's Classic Space logo is incorrect, unfortunately."
Is it? It's orignially on the figs left side (as we see it) .. as on the nanofig.

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By in Kuwait,

You are at least getting it for free. It is around $13 in our certified store. Still I got two of them.

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By in United Kingdom,

Have to say on the Free or not to Free debate, For the vast majority of us that dont live 10 mins from a Lego store the Lego.com route is the only way to get these items... and we only get what it states.... various people have commented the shops seem to just throw in extra stuff all the time. Brickset is great for revealing Future offers. I got this on day one, which was also the only day you could get an eater fig and a Pod too, so for me /I waited about 3 weeks to get 3 freebies....and thats the only reason I still use Lego.com. Also slightly disappointed with he cardboard element. It looks like it takes up far too much space to display with the box and if its glued it looks like a lot of extra base plates will be bought this week.

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By in United Kingdom,

@dougts
That actually makes it even simpler: if you don't like the freebie, there's NO reason to buy direct from LEGO.
What's the problem?

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By in United States,

I want those microfigures sooo bad...

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By in Australia,

I think the problem with the yellow shirt is that classic Town or City figures wearing yellow clothing just makes it look like they're not wearing anything at all. Yeah, he's got pockets and big corporate logo on the back, but it still looks odd.

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By in United States,

Aside from not having doubles of figures and a few mistakes (brush moving with the line for example) this is more worth it than the Vader pod.

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By in United Kingdom,

I really like the sliding window id thing! It looks really cool! Not much of a lego set though

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By in United States,

looks great

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By in United States,

@dougts: Nonsense. How is this a step down from the Iconic Cave Set or Iconic Easter Set? Those came in cardboard boxes too, and those had no non-minifigure bricks. It’s only subpar if you assume the cardboard box is taking the place of bricks, when you can just as easily see it as a fun way to turn the packaging the set would have had anyway into an actual part of the scene and play experience.

I’ll second that the child minifigure represents the first short legs, and add that his image was probably chosen because the actual short-legged figures who came out that year were all licensed. I can’t for the life of me figure out what milestone the arctic explorer woman is meant to represent, though. Did she have back printing? I know that’s around when the first non-keychain minifigures with printed backs began appearing.

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By in United States,

I was disappointed upon opening to see that the bottom plate is glued inside the box.

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By in Poland,

1. I am really disapointed with errors in this set
2. The list misses first leg printed figure as well, but I am more sad there is no description for each year.
3. Microfigs WOULD look great if they didn't maint the tops of the head. That looks just weird. Also where is Castle minifigure?

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By in United Kingdom,

Thanks got another great review.
I was thinking about purchasing even when Easter hut was in basket too but both sets being cardboard puts me off. Cardboard is a cop out for a Lego set! The VIP freebies aren’t as good as they used to be (excluding the recent 60th anniversary set- very good set).

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By in Germany,

@Aanchir:
Nope, no back printing on the Arctic figure (her name's Crystal Aput btw). Also no other Form of special prints/parts on her. Her torso is even the only element that didn't appear before, so yes quite mysterious why they chose her.

The first non-keychain torsos with backprinting appeared on 7 minifigs from 1998:
Dex, Rex, Max and Alexis from X-Treme Team and the 3 different crew members from RES-Q.
Backprinting remained very scarce in the following years with the next examples being a few SW figures (C-3PO in 2000, Stormtrooper 2001) and the soccer players from Sports/Football.

Also slightly annoying they made another error when chosing Ironhook over Captain Redbeard, since Ironhook wasn't released in 1989 but 1992, so wasn't the first character with a modified hand.

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By in United Kingdom,

Ugh, is this out of stock already? I fell asleep before completing an order last night and its not showing in my basket this morning. This keeps happening they schedule an offer to run from April 2nd - April 22nd and its done by April 6th with no warning.

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By in United States,

@curious
The series 18 CMFs are out of stock. If that was part of your order, they were removed from your bag and the cost may have dropped under $75. That is what happened to me.

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By in United States,

Cute idea that I expect will appeal to some, but this one just has no interest for me. Probably because I'm not so much into minifigures as the builds themselves.

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By in United Kingdom,

@Brainslugged and Aanchir - I am sure you are both right regarding the 2002 minifigure representing the introduction of short legs; I hadn't considered that possibility. However, it still seems strange that they didn't use the figure from 4186875 LEGO 9V Platform which was released in 2002.

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By in United Kingdom,

@InvisibleTimmy

No on the UK store any basket I create no longer adds the minifig factory. Which means the UK stock of them has been exhausted in 4 days. Theres probably more stock for the US store.

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By in United Kingdom,

Customer service have confirmed that they are already out of stock and don't think the UK store will be getting anymore. I'm starting to get a bit fed up of poorly planned promotions this year. If they have so little stock that a 20 day promotion ends in 4 days they really need to adjust the promotional period to something reflecting that.

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By in Norway,

The Norwegian [email protected] is out of stock too....well done Lego. As @curious says, they really need to adjust either the period or the stock for future promotions.

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By in Netherlands,

Also out of stock in the Netherlands,

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By in United States,

Still in stock in the USA

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By in Germany,

@ Aanchir: Nonsense right back at 'cha. Why you would compare this to the Caveman and Easter GwPs is beyond me. Yes, they came in cardboard boxes -- and the first thing I did was throw those away. The major difference is that this "set" does not work without the silly cardboard. It's an inseparable part of the scenery. The baseplate is even glued in, for Pete's sake! If anything, this can be compared to that cardboard Christmas tree thing we got last year (5004934, I believe), which was just as bad. A trend I would certainly not like to see continued.

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By in United States,

My son loved it. I thought it was a nice add on.
Annchir, I understood what you were saying. You are right, it does come with several no mini-figure parts. And it will be allot of fun making your own backing for it. Incidentally we were able to very easily separate the the base-plate without even damaging it
We like to keep the packaging as opposed to throwing it away, but to each his own.
Cheers everyone.

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By in Singapore,

Here it took less than 3 days to clear the stock...

I believe TLG only produced a fixed (limited?) number of sets to be distributed around the world. After all, the more they produce and give out free, the more cost to them, so they have to set a limit in the quantity.

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By in United States,

They've run short on a lot of the smaller sets (not just GWP ones, but also regular sets at [email protected], like the pair of flowers in 40187-1) this year. I wonder if TLG is cutting costs by making smaller numbers of everything, then perhaps scheduling further runs of whatever proves popular. Or maybe they're just making less of their non-licensed sets? It seems an obvious way to cut costs while not harming quality.

Or perhaps they're making the same quantity of sets but sending larger numbers of them to where they make the most profit per sale--meaning Asia instead of North America and Europe.

I meant to get the flower display set along with the related freebie, and wound up having to buy it from Brickset instead (fortunately not at too expensive a price increase). That taught me my lesson; now if I want a special offer I make sure to put in an order as soon as possible.

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By in Germany,

Out of stock in Germany apparently also.
What I don't get is why they still advertise it on the [email protected] main page and several others, yet not add it to the cart regardless. Oh well, some more money saved. Was not too keen on this anyway, so no hard feelings, but - again - crappy planning on TLG's part anyway.

That (regular) Flower set by the way (plus the GWP version on Valentine's day) is another example. Sold out in less than a week for a regular set is unheard of I believe. And that nice Valentine's day flower - don't even get me started about that one. Such a pity. What is wrong with TLG?

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By in United Kingdom,

How long do you have to have been collecting Lego before "Unfortunately, the timeline includes a fairly obvious error, showing the boy from 2017's 40263 Christmas Town Square as an example of a minifigure from 2002."

...becomes an 'obvious' error?

;o)

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By in Norway,

^ not very long ;)

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By in United States,

@Brick Dangerous: I compared this to the iconic minifigure sets in that those are other obvious examples of products where the packaging is designed as a display case or scenery for the product. The fact that you indiscriminately throw out packaging that's designed to complement the product even after it's been opened seems more wasteful to me than anything else. It feels almost like throwing out the planets from the Star Wars Planets sets just because they, too, function as part of the packaging.

I guess you'd argue that the planets are a totally different matter because they're plastic and not cardboard. To which I'd ask, is that really such a big difference? I suspect you'd have no problem throwing out blister packaging from a set like #853544-1, despite the blister itself being plastic. And conversely I doubt you'd throw out non-packaging pieces made from cardboard like the roof of #4707-1 or the backdrop from #40176-1 unless it were noticeably damaged. Why then does it become unacceptable when a cardboard piece functions as both product and packaging?

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By in Canada,

Personally, the thing about this that bugs me the most is the fact that the pirate's legs aren't painted blue. The other nanofigures do a great job of representing their respective minifigs, but that seems like a glaring omission. Pixal's legs are printed, so it's not like they can't do it at that scale...

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By in Netherlands,

I noticed another error in the minifigure line-up in the instructions. Not just the boy is wrong, but also the Pirate Captain. The Pirate Captain with ripped clothes is from the Islanders series from 1994 and not from 1989. That was the Pirate Captain with the black/brown clothes.

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