Review: Wooden minifigure

Posted by ,
View image at flickr

It's been a long time since LEGO last sold items made from wood so the release of 853967 Wooden Minifigure in London today is something of a big deal.

It's also something of a departure from the company's usual product portfolio. This isn't designed to be built, or played with, or even bought by those who usually buy LEGO products: the price will ensure that.

It is, however, a beautiful well-made piece that, if you can afford it, will grace your home or office.

It arrives in a very nice box that is not sealed at all, so can be opened and closed again without destroying it.

View image at flickr

The figure sits inside on a printed backdrop, along with a polybag containing 29 parts, and a small pamphlet.

View image at flickr

The backing card lifts out of the box and to remove the figure from it you'll need scissors to cut the plastic band at the back holding it in place.

View image at flickr

The polybag is numbered 11926 (yes, it's in the database now)

View image at flickr

The 26-page pamphlet contains information on the history of LEGO and wooden toys, the material that this is made from, some ideas for accessories to build with the parts provided, and profiles of a couple of the artists that produced the pieces that we wrote about earlier.

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

The minifig is certainly smaller than I was expecting, but it is very well made and finished to a high standard.

As stated in the press release, there is no articulation except of the wrists. I think I would have preferred one of the arms to be at its side, rather than have it in this permanent zombie-like pose.

View image at flickr

The holes normally found on the back of the figure's leg are machined out of the wood and look perfect.

View image at flickr

There are no holes on the bottom of the feet, though, just information about the wood and where's it's made: Vietnam.

View image at flickr

The stud on the top of its head has the familiar LEGO logo laser-cut into it.

View image at flickr

The cut is quite deep.

View image at flickr

It's hard to tell from the pictures just how tall, or not, it is, so this will give you an idea of what a height of 20cm looks like.

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

Here are a couple of the suggested builds. The 2x2 round bricks fit loosely in the hands, there is no clutch and they don't flex so there has to be something above them to stop the accessory slipping through.

View image at flickr

View image at flickr


Verdict

This is a well-made and desirable item aimed at affluent adult collectors and others that appreciate the iconic design of the minifigure.

It is expensive, that's for sure, and for £110 I was expecting it to be somewhat bigger when I first heard what it was. However it is a quality piece that will display well either in your LEGO room or elsewhere: I don't think you will have too much trouble persuading a spouse to allow you to put it somewhere more prominent!

A lot of people have commented on the plastic hands and that wooden ones would have been better. I actually think the plastic looks OK. Wood would have been nice but, given their thinness, very likely to break if you forced something into them, and you certainly wouldn't want that on an item of this price.

As for customising it as LEGO would like us to... maybe if I was confident in my skills I'd have a go but as it is, I'd just ruin it. At the price, that's certainly not something I, and I suspect most people, will want to risk.

Bottom line, if you can afford it, you'll love it. If you can't, it's not for you. Much like any luxury item, really...

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

It will be available at LEGO.com from the 3rd November priced at £109.99 / $119.99.


Thanks to LEGO for providing the item for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

75 comments on this article

Gravatar
By in United States,

Its cool.. but other than a decoration piece it seems odd because its price makes me think of the normal Lego sets I could buy for that instead...

Gravatar
By in Latvia,

Too much for something that isn't in the same system as regular bricks, unfortuntely.

Gravatar
By in United States,

The only reason I would ever buy this is as an investment. And that saddens me a little--toys are meant to be played with.

Gravatar
By in United States,

It's expensive but I'm adding it to my wanted list

Gravatar
By in Canada,

I am one of those long time adult Lego lovers that TLG is aiming this at, but as much as I love it, even I cannot justify the price they are charging. Something more along the line of $99 CAD would be my 'buy it' price.

Gravatar
By in United States,

I find it grimly ironic the company is trying to be more eco friendly yet it releases a product that’s quintessentially the most anti environmental thing possible. Saving trees is environmentalism 101

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

You wouldn't need to force anything into the hands. Given the plastic ones have no clutch anyway, you could just built your holding stick, drop it into the hand from above, and add anything necessary underneath.

And if they have to use plastic for safety or damage reasons, I still think it would have looked better with a plastic head too, with a classic smiley face. At least that way, the exposed skin matches and it looks like he has a wooden suit on.

Although quite a few people have managed to make wooden ones with wooden hands, and with articulated limbs.

Gravatar
By in United States,

No articulation? Hard pass.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

Not excited about it at all. I was planning to get one tomorrow but it's definitely not worth the hassel of travelling into London and I'm not sure I will buy when it's available online either.

Gravatar
By in Canada,

@Sandinista : As someone who personally planted nearly half a million trees and managed planting crews and projects that planted over 25 millions for over 15 years, I can assure you that wood is way more sustainable and environmentally-friendly than plastics (and that FSC logo at the bottom of the figure ensures that some sustainability standards are followed).

Responsibly harvesting trees once they have captured carbon as well as using wood products instead of concrete (whose fabrication is a heavily polluting process) in construction is much better than just "saving trees".

If you want to blame Lego, you should focus a lot more on the company's overuse of single-use plastic bags within bags.

Gravatar
By in Estonia,

If you want a display piece for the same amonut of money, the NASA Apollo Saturn V is way more impressive and heartwarming. Just buy a few of those to one day give your grandchildren a legendary set in MISB.
But for the company's sake I hope they have done their due diligence and are 110% certain the Vietnamese manufacturers don't employ children or cut down trees in a protected forest with endangered species or something like that.

Gravatar
By in United States,

I could make this in my basement, with articulation, for a fifth of the price.

Gravatar
By in United States,

I like the concept of this, but that price... also it's an item exclusively for collectors and collectors aren't going to customize it.

3D printing giant Lego minifigs has been a thing for a while now. There are a ton of accessories scaled up to the same size so you can really customize them too.

Gravatar
By in United States,

i am disappointed that it doesnt articulate, because I would love to see that sucker driving Huw's Technic Land Rover.

Gravatar
By in United States,

I'll pass.

Gravatar
By in Netherlands,

The yellow hands look as garish as on the SW Black VIP Card holder minifigure.

Gravatar
By in Germany,

Made in Vietnam?
That sure justifies the price even more.
What would the figure have cost had it been made in Europe to EU work standards? 1,000 Euro?
I'd love to know the profit margin on this.

Gravatar
By in Belgium,

display piece of a mini figure? 3723 is the only answer AND you build it yourself!

Gravatar
By in United States,

I still think this is an April Fool's joke. Pass please.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

I agree with Huw, one arm up and the other by the side would have looked better. I liked the decorated ones in the promotion article. Perhaps this would be a fun competition idea - design an outfit for Huw's luxury LEGO Plasti-Wood figure :-)

Gravatar
By in Sweden,

Those yellow hands and the fixed zombie pose kinda ruin it for me.

Gravatar
By in Russian Federation,

They could have made the arms wooden and included a pair of extra arms for replacement in case they break. They could have included both plastic and wooden arms and made them interchangeable. They could have put big warning stickers informing people that it's not designed to be toy and telling them to be cautious with wooden arms that may break and give children splinters.

Instead, they just throw in some plastic hands that look way out-of-place on a wooden model, and give the excuse of making it "safe for kidz to play with" despite simultaneously presenting it as a display item rather than a toy and pricing it accordingly. I'm absolutely baffled by the decision making that went into producing this. The whole thing really does feel like an out-of-season April Fool's joke.

I mean, sure, tell me that if I'm not interested I just shouldn't buy it, different strokes for different folks and all that, but the fact that almost two thirds of votes on the press release page are against buying this bizarre product kind of speaks for itself.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

OK so I was dead set against this until I saw the photos for this review and I've changed my mind. The official images and the artists' interpretations were so unimpressive. I don't care too much for the extra pieces provided but we've all got loads of bricks to properly customise this. Good job Huw, I can see this in my home now.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

I love the product and concept. Why more fan grumbling? Because there is a marketing disparity between nostalgia and price.

TLG Marketing team have missed a trick not using heritage style packaging in catering for a niche market with incomes closer to their own, who need not so much promotional waffle to snap up a luxury item- say less, its so 'chic and luxury'.

The limited income customer base may very well love this item but can't justify this sort of money. Their hobby of nostalgia is for classic sets and collectible themes TLG group don't seem to turn their hand to. Only unbiased, broad market research will confirm to TLG the sales they are missing out on but yes it feels imbalanced to this customer.

Gravatar
By in United States,

I'm going to have to whittle some Clone Army Customs armor for it. Once I paint it. Once I buy it.

Gravatar
By in Russian Federation,

It reminds me of the time when Apple released a $300 book about themselves. Even their biggest fans found it to be in rather poor taste and compared it to Apple congratulating themselves. I think I feel the same way about TLG releasing this thing.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

Hang on, is this what the recent attack on 3D printed LEGO-related designs was all about? Removing 3D printed upscaled minifigures from the internet before launching this overpriced knock-off of a fan's creation?

Bit like Brickheadz really...

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

Made in Vietnam?! Look, no offence to Asian manufacturers or countries, but I would have at least assumed that the justification for the price was that it was being made in Denmark.

Gravatar
By in Belgium,

That dull whine that's getting louder.....? Polybag collectors everywhere realising this expensive set contains a numbered polybag.....

Gravatar
By in Canada,

I kind of like the idea but $155 Canadian?

Gravatar
By in United States,

As a fan of lego, buying this would make just as much sense as buying one of those wooden drawing models (if those models cost $140).

Gravatar
By in Netherlands,

@Sandinista
Actually, this is a good thing for the climate, since it's stored carbon that is not likely to be burnt or lying rotting somewhere. Same for plastic to a certain extent as well.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

In terms of a display piece, I love it. Being made of wood, I think it’s really cool. Yellow hands? Doesn’t bother me, actually quite like it as a bridge to the modern plastic minifigure.
I do think it’s a shame that they haven’t allowed the arms at least to move, that for me is missing a bit of a trick.
There is a bit of a contradiction in terms of the marketing and it seems like a bit of confusion over who this is actually aimed at.
It is expensive for a Vietnamese wood carving, would have preferred it to have been made in Denmark to stay traditional to the brand. Also, £110 is expensive. All that said, would it look good on the shelf of my Lego room - absolutely!

Gravatar
By in United States,

A wooden minifigure! Oh wait, it comes with plastic hands. I totally understand why but it totally ruins the display value. The cost is insane for something like that.

Gravatar
By in Australia,

This is a definite no for me.

It's just a bit ... weird, really, isn't it?

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

I’m all for Lego trying new things, but this just seems to have come out of nowhere. I’m really struggling to work out who this is actually for.

Gravatar
By in Germany,

It is a neat idea, but Lego comes again with a mindless price of 120€ for 20cm oak wood.

Gravatar
By in Norway,

Wow... Just wow!

I am so buying it when the price is reduced by 70%.

Gravatar
By in United States,

Still too expensive for me :(

Gravatar
By in United States,

It's a nice piece but it should definitely have moving parts for that price. I'll put my $120 towards the Disney Castle that I still haven't bought yet that's on my wish list.

Gravatar
By in Australia,

It’s interesting that the trailer for this shows a craftsman hand whittling these, when in reality it’s coming out of a factory in Vietnam...

Gravatar
By in Australia,

I'd buy it just to have a whiff of freshly cut sustainable young pine!

Gravatar
By in United States,

Four dollars per piece (US) doesn't meet my 10 cents or less per piece requirement :)

Gravatar
By in Netherlands,

hmz, very pricey! Maybe when it's on sale one day. To be honest I can think of some other sets I'd rather add to my collection.

Gravatar
By in Canada,

I love this product and this idea but $120 is too expensive for something that small. I'll pick it up if it goes on sale.

Gravatar
By in Poland,

Someone will buy this.
For full 120$.

I have no words.
Also people already made wooden articulated ones.

Gravatar
By in Sweden,

It's danish design. The target group has to be the ones buying Kay Bojesens monkey and bird. They're in the same price class. I'll let you guys know when I see the first lego sculpture turn up in a Scandinavian interior design magazine. :P

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

Well would you believe as if £110 wasn't enough there are a few on ebay for more. Here's hoping these sit next to the ISDs on shelves until they get reduced and reduced and Lego review pricing. Personally I'm not sure if I saw one at £50 i'd buy one. Firstly its not Lego, and Secondly even £50 would buy a nice set instead. At Full Price if you wanted a display piece Wooden Figure, or Saturn 5, or a London Bus, or many more depending on discount.

Gravatar
By in New Zealand,

A very unfortunate misuse of timber and Vietnamese manpower.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

I bought it yesterday from the pop up store in London. There were some really cool painted ones and great inspiration if you did want to decorate it. Honestly, it’s cool, but if I hadn’t gone to the pop up I wouldn’t have bought it.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

Needs some clothes. I wonder if Build a Bear ones fit?

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

Three articles in a row on something that is an over priced collectors piece that most of us won't get to lay our hands on? No thanks, not for me.

Gravatar
By in Viet Nam,

Struck by the irony that I live in Vietnam, this is made in Vietnam but I need to have it delivered to ny UK address :-)

It also costs about the same as the average monthly household income here, so those who make them probably can’t buy them :-(

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

Bottom line, I can afford it, but I don’t like it, so I won't be buying it.

Just like any product, luxury or otherwise.

Gravatar
By in Norway,

Looks interesting...
Checks price..... 140$ ?
...
Eh Goodbye.

Gravatar
By in United States,

It looks much smaller than expected.

How does it compare in size to the official LEGO figure set that came out 20 years ago?

I already wasn't able to spend $120, but seeing the size, I am even less interested. I could stock up on my other sets I still need at that price.

Gravatar
By in United States,

So much yellow hand hate. I think it's a smart design choice. I think wooden hands wouldve deviated from the Lego look even more than a wooden body already does, and the yellow hands make the figure pop.

For everyone saying other people have made articulated wooden figs for cheaper...the only ones I could find that were cheaper weren't well made. The shoulders weren't the same height, the arms didn't match, etc.

Hope this gets marked down, though.

Gravatar
By in United States,

@Tupperfan:
You may complain about them, but they actually make a lot of sense. The "family mold" elements are bagged right as they're ejected from the molds, so they don't even have to sort the parts individually, thereby eliminating a _lot_ of work, and the energy required to support it. Small parts are easy to lose, so sometimes they sort a bunch of tiny pieces like 1x1 plates into a smaller bag and put it inside a larger bag. This ensures that the really small parts are all collected together someplace where they'll be easy to locate, but also makes sure the smaller bags that they're packed in won't themselves get lost as you dump the contents of the box out. This eliminates the need to send tons of replacement parts, which would all be packed in a large resealable Zip-Loc-style bag, packed in a padded mailer, and shipped worldwide from Denmark. So while it seems wasteful up front, the only real option they have to improve this is to find a better material for the bags.

@Baldarek:
Target just did the same thing, but at a Target pricepoint.

@Joefish:
No, that's about the fact that they have to at least make an honest effort to protect their trademarks (of which the minifig is one) or they could risk having trademark status revoked for failure to defend. The timing of it, on the other hand, may be tied to this, as they may not have really been aware of what was going on until they got started on this project.

Gravatar
By in United States,

$120 for a piece of wood? No way. Not even $50. Not to mention it doesn't take any time to design set like this compared to any other system sets. For instance the time it takes to design a similar priced Technic set is substantial compare to this.

Gravatar
By in United States,

Geez... if the readers here think this is crazy expensive, you’ll flip if you look at the price people pay for Sofubi figs. ...This thing isn’t a toy. It’s a collectible. ...The price is completely fair given the work in producing it, and prestige it offers. It looks good.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

Now I'm wondering if there's a Bandolier and a Bowcaster to this scale available.

Gravatar
By in Slovenia,

ABS hands on wooden sculpture? Sorry no!
They could use harder wood or stabilised wood to make it strong enough. But cost would rise.

Gravatar
By in United States,

Loved it, until I saw the price

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

If the arms were down and the hands were wooden it would be a great backdrop to a monofig collection.

Gravatar
By in United States,

The yellow hands don't bother me as much as the fixed zombie pose. It would be nice to have one, but I can't justify spending what they're asking. If it was half the price, then sure. I think this would work better as a gift with purchase or VIP store item.

Gravatar
By in United States,

I definitely have some reservations, but the price (per part) does look somewhat more attractive in the 5006061 bundle.

Gravatar
By in United States,

I’m more interested in where I could find a BrickSet minifig torso like the one featured in the pictures than I’m interested in getting the wooden minifig.

Gravatar
By in United States,

Great review. Depending on how many of these are made, it's value as an investment is sure to rise. If you want it and the price is too high, just save $ 10.00 US a month for 12 months and then buy it.
$ 120.00 is just a small part of what I spend on Lego every year.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

Plastic hands? No articulation? £110!? No thanks!

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

You have to wonder what the LEGO management were smoking when they gave the go ahead for this.

I'm sorry, but in my opinion this is utter rubbish. Surely not a coincidence that it is already discounted by £50 on the first day of release?! (Check the sale page of the Lego online shop)

Gravatar
By in United States,

It's either 7 months late or 5 months early for an April Fool's joke, isn't it?

Seriously, not sure what they were thinking with this one. There's plenty of decent actual sets you can get cheaper than this. And honestly, I wouldn't want this thing if it was free. A hunk of undecorated wood that just sits on a shelf? I'll defend Lego all day long making expensive direct consumer sets that are at least worth what they cost. This is a waste of money at any price.

Still not entirely convinced this isn't a joke. The butt of the joke is anyone who would actually buy this. No thanks.

Gravatar
By in Finland,

Well... A wooden figure... Sounds Non-Lego. Rolomolo12345 i think same.

Gravatar
By in Canada,

I don't understand the marketing strategy here. This is going to be a sales dud of epic proportions.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

I bought one online day one but it was damaged. I returned it to store and got another one which is perfect. Is it expensive YES..... Is it a luxury item YES...... but and here's the but, there are only 2500 in the world (and a store manger told me it won't be re-made or re-issued). So if you want one get it now, if you're unsure get it now and sell it on ebay in 6 months for £250+..... It's a win win.

Gravatar
By in United Arab Emirates,

I want four to paint up like KISS.

View more reviews »
Return to home page »