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The Evolution of the Lego Minifigure

Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,617
The have been countless discussions about mold changes for parts throughout Lego's history. The Lego Minifigure has gone through some changes of its own. I have been going through my collection of minifigures and have been noting the changes from 1978-Present.
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Comments

  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,617
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,617
    edited April 2015
    Here are 2 minifigures. One from 1978 (left) and one from 2014 (right). They both look relatively the same, but they are different in many ways.
    Andor
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,617
    First we will start with the heads. Notice the difference. The one from 1978 has a solid stud and the one from 2014 has a recessed stud. The Lego minfigure head has gone through a few changes since its inception, but I am just showing the difference from 1978-Present :)
    Andor
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,617
    We now will take a look at the torsos. You can see the molds are much different.
    Andor
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,617
    The legs have gone through some changes as well. I noticed that there isn't a seam on the minifigure from 1978, but there is a clear seam on the one from 2014.
    Andor
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,617
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,617

    Current Lego Minifigures (From Denmark) have Lego stamped inside both feet. I have noticed that Minifigures made in China have Lego inside only one foot.

    There have been many changes throughout the years, but I just wanted to get this discussion going and see if the community can offer more insight on these changes. This information will be very useful for people trying to put together minifigures from lots that they have purchased and also serve as a guide to make sure they have the correct minifigures with the sets.

    AndorFizyx
  • TarDomoTarDomo FinlandMember Posts: 515
    Nice! Another interesting thing is the evolution of SW minifigs from the yellow heads and simple hairpieces and helmets to arm and leg printed superbly detailed minifigs. Yoda from 2002 look a lot different than the ones seen in the past few years. Battle Droid Geonosians have other color than years ago... there are plenty of exampels
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,617
    Yes, minifigures have gone through many visual changes, but I am focusing more on mold changes than the various printing and color differences. As far as Yoda is concerned, there really hasn't been an official original Trilogy version other than the one that came with #4502. Lego used the same minifigure for #7103 and #7260, but they were for Episode 2 and 3.
    Andor
  • catwranglercatwrangler Northern IrelandMember Posts: 1,676
    This is a great thread that addresses something I've wondered about lately, and I'm finding the close-up pictures very handy! 
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,617
    This is obviously a work in progress, but I will be adding more pics and info shortly :)
    catwranglerAndorlego007chuckp
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,617
    There have been at least 2 torso changes since 1978. The first one occurred around 1983-84 and the second one occurred around 1997-98. I will provide pictures soon :)
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,617
    This information has been very useful to me in the past. I found what looked like a complete set of minifigures from #6075. After further inspection, I found that a lot of the legs and torsos were newer than what came in the Classic Yellow Castle 1981-83. I was very disappointed.
  • qzh0223qzh0223 Member Posts: 7
    keep posting, I am also interested in those minifigure :)
  • bobabricksbobabricks Vancouver, BC, CanadaMember Posts: 1,836
    Wow, not by @Istokg? I'm surprised. ;)

    Very nice thread, I have noticed that some torsos (current "X" inside) have rounded top corners and some have sharp corners.

    Andor
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,617
    Top torso 1983-84
    Bottom torso 1997-98
    Andor
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,617
    Wow, not by @Istokg? I'm surprised. ;)

    Very nice thread, I have noticed that some torsos (current "X" inside) have rounded top corners and some have sharp corners.

    Top corners, as in where the top peg is located? I haven't noticed much of a difference. I have looked at about 20-30 or so and I think the difference that you may be seeing is wear n tear. Molds wear out eventually and details are not as sharp. I don't think that is a mold change that you are seeing :)
  • bobabricksbobabricks Vancouver, BC, CanadaMember Posts: 1,836
    It is not wear and tear, I was looking at mint figures. Here are some pictures of torsos that have corner difference. It's small but it's there.


    Andor
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,617
    edited April 2015
    Wear n tear on the mold, not the minifigure ;) Are these your pictures? If not, I would not trust the resolution. I have both these torsos in my collection and both are exactly the same. You can see by those pics that Gan Solo's arms are lower. Does this mean the hole placement for the arms are lower? I think you are looking at an optical illusion :)
    Andor
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,617
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,617
    I am currently working on the legs right now. One thing I have noticed is that the hips are not always attached the same way. It doesn't matter which direction they are attached to the legs, but it is inconsistent which way they are attached.
    Andor
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,617
    @qzh0223 , You are interested in the Classic Yellow Castle Minifigures? There are a couple that are in decent condition, but the heads should be hollow studs and a noticeably lighter shade of yellow than newer minifigures. The hands are a lighter yellow as well. The torsos are hollow and the legs should have a horizontal Lego trademark stamped between the two hip "studs". You will notice that Lego is noticeably larger than the next mold change for the hips/legs assembly. This change happened around the same time as the torso change (1983-84).
    Andor
  • oldtodd33oldtodd33 Denver 4800 miles to BillundMember Posts: 2,092
    @Pitfall69  The classic Yellow Castle #6075 has solid stud heads. 
    Pitfall69
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,617
    Just remember that #375 (1978-1983) is rarer than #6075 (1981-1983) which was only available in North America. The longer a set is out, the more likely there will be pieces from different molds. This is especially true throughout the first few years of the Classic Pirate line. At least you can narrow it down to just a couple years :)
    Andor
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,043
    Wow, not by @Istokg? I'm surprised. ;)

    Very nice thread, I have noticed that some torsos (current "X" inside) have rounded top corners and some have sharp corners.

    Good Lord... mold variations..... I'm busy enough with 20,000+ set variations....  :o

    Minifigs and 2x4 brick mold variations.... there's plenty of folks out there to fill in the slack....   :)

    Here's a prototype hairpiece that was never produced from 1979.....



    Pitfall69AndorbobabricksFizyx
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,617
    ^That's what I "figured". My research is not as precise as yours, but then again, you have been doing this for a long time. I'm definitely not going into parts and what not. I just want to focus on minifigures :)
    Andor
  • oldtodd33oldtodd33 Denver 4800 miles to BillundMember Posts: 2,092
    Minifigure heads went from solid to hollow some time around 89-90.
    Andor
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,617
    ^Right, along with putting lipstick on female minifigures and more facial expressions other than the classic smiley face :) I will get to that shortly.
    Andor
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,043
    @Pitfall69  You just go right on ahead.... I'll be the student!   :)

    There is a lot of contention on Bricklink among some sellers because of the rather slow conversion from solid stud to hollow (open stud) by TLG.  They use a default for all the minifigs, and that makes for some unhappy sellers.

    One of my all time favorite old time LEGO sets only sold in Europe and Australia was the 277 Fireplace set (Homemaker).... it had 5 solid stud plain red minifig heads and 4 solid stud plain black ones.  This was a very cool set for those rare parts, by not using them as minifig heads.









    oldtodd33Pitfall69LittleLori
  • AndorAndor United StatesMember Posts: 252
    Thanks you for doing this @Pitfall69  This is very fascinating and helpful. A great credit to the community. Keep up the good work. Huzzah!

  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,617
    Istokg said:
    @Pitfall69  You just go right on ahead.... I'll be the student!   :)

    There is a lot of contention on Bricklink among some sellers because of the rather slow conversion from solid stud to hollow (open stud) by TLG.  They use a default for all the minifigs, and that makes for some unhappy sellers.

    One of my all time favorite old time LEGO sets only sold in Europe and Australia was the 277 Fireplace set (Homemaker).... it had 5 solid stud plain red minifig heads and 4 solid stud plain black ones.  This was a very cool set for those rare parts, by not using them as minifig heads.









    This is the main reason I started all of this. I found it frustrating that the Bricklink inventories didn't include the solid studded heads as an alternative part in some of the Classic Castle and Classic Pirate themes. My collection consists of older first run sets of those themes and a lot of my minifigures have solid studded heads.
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,617
    According to Bricklink, these torsos are the same, but they aren't. The one on the left is from #6060 Knights Challenge (1989) and the one one the left is from #10002 Club Car (2001) The lower picture shows the differences between the 2 torsos other than the obvious printing on the front. 

    1989 Top
    2001 Bottom
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,617
    So, my point is that if you order this torso on Bricklink, you may not get the correct era torso.
    Andor
  • LusiferSamLusiferSam MontanaMember Posts: 435
    Don't get me started on trying to find the right type of torso on BrickLink.  It can be a nightmare.  My current dilemma stems from an eBay purchase from about a year ago.  The seller said they were mostly complete sets and may have some modern substitutions.   Turns out that was an understatement.  Half of the minifigures had X type torsos and hollow heads.  Solid heads are easy enough to find, but O type torsos are a real pain. 

    It took months to find everything.  I had a couple of sellers not know the difference between O, H and X or hollow, short ribs and long ribs types.  I had one seller who did know the difference cancel an order because his inventory was wrong.  I then spend a few months searching for the wrong type because I had wrong year down in my mind. 

    I got the last of these torsos in February.  Now I get need to finish getting the period correct bricks.  I'm down to 4 bricks across 3 sets and I found a seller that should have the right items. 
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,617
    ^I feel your pain brother...I feel your pain. My mission is to help all that I can. As fultile as it might seem.
    Andor
  • LusiferSamLusiferSam MontanaMember Posts: 435
    For what ever reason this site wouldn't load last night, but the minifigure section of Arnoud van den Bos's Leggodt.nl is one of the best resources online for minifigure evolution.

    The Dutch version of the site is best.  But for those of us that don't read Dutch there is an English, German and French version as well.
    Pitfall69
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,617
    He says the recessed stud head came out in 2009 according to his chart. That came out in 2014, unless I am reading the chart incorrectly.
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,617
    oldtodd33 said:
    @Pitfall69  The classic Yellow Castle #6075 has solid stud heads. 
    I just noticed this. I meant to say solid stud head. I got a "head" of myself there ;)
  • LusiferSamLusiferSam MontanaMember Posts: 435
    Pitfall69 said:
    He says the recessed stud head came out in 2009 according to his chart. That came out in 2014, unless I am reading the chart incorrectly.
    You're not reading it incorrectly, you just happen to be wrong in your assertion.  There is never a clean cut transition between when parts change, there always a period where you'll find both.  The earliest set I could easily check for this was the Pet Shop.  The globe for the street lamp a recessed stud and the minifigures have hollow studs.  The Town Hall has all recessed studs. 

    I first notice it this in '12.  And I've seen a mix hollow and recessed head since.  The trend is toward new heads having a recessed stud.   My guess is that Arnoud is correct and the part first showed up in '09.  It may not have been a printed minifigure head and could have been a plane round brick.  And who knows what set and what location it first showed up in.

  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,617
    I am going through some legs now. Looks like many variations. Large Lego molded horizontally between hip studs, then smaller Lego, then Lego molded smaller vertically. Lego molded inside feet.
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,617
    I understand that the longer a set is out, it can have many variations from the sets first production run to its last. That is what makes this so hard. Although, I think my goal is more for older Classic sets than new ones. I may be wrong, but I think that the majority of newer sets have longer production runs than sets produced long ago.
  • LusiferSamLusiferSam MontanaMember Posts: 435
    ^ I'm not so sure.  What you mean by "longer production runs?"  Many current sets are only available for only a year.   I believe the number modern sets made is larger, but they are made in a shorter period time.  Sets from the 80s would be available for years.  This means the time in production would be longer.

  • legomattlegomatt Member Posts: 2,537
    I've nothing useful to add (which is hardly a shock to anyone! hah), just wanted to say what an excellent thread you've created @Pitfall69.

    Oh, hold on... *thought forming* ...Have you noticed anything about the shape or grip of minifig hands/wrists?
    My old fig hands appear to look and feel slightly different to newer fig hands, seem to have much more 'flex' to them than modern ones, which seem much more rigid. Also the wrist joint on modern figs feels more fragile - or under more pressure when the hand is rotated - like it's going to bust if i rotate the hand, an action which itself is less smooth than it used to be. Whereas my old figs wrists seem both more robust and don't impede hand rotation at all.
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,617
    edited April 2015
    Yes, the hands went through both molds and obvious plastic changes.

    @LusiferSam , production runs of today compared with 30 years ago would be an interesting topic.
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,617
    edited April 2015
    I took a quick look at medium to large sets(with minifigures) made in 1979 and their average lifespan was less than 3 years. I picked 1979 because that was the year I got my first large Lego set and have been in love ever since.
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,617
    I am only using sets with minifigures because minifigures are the basis or my research. If I have the time, I will do some quick research to see what the average years of production were for sets made in 2009 or some other year. I won't be incliding CMF's, just medium to large mass produced sets.
  • legomattlegomatt Member Posts: 2,537
    Pitfall69 said:
    I am going through some legs now.
    You can say that again, I remember those pictures. ;o)
    Pitfall69
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 10,617
    ^You had to bring that up ;) Too bad nobody has heard or seen @Yellowcastle for months.
    legomatt
  • jpeg07jpeg07 Aotearoa Member Posts: 17
    Very interesting discussion (albeit from several months ago). I have spent ages, in the past, trying to get the correct minifigs and parts for older sets. Sometimes Bricklink sellers state "hollow torso" or "light yellow hands" but it's often hit and miss (usually miss). Also, as Leggotdt.nl states, the 1978 sets had thicker printing for the eyes and smile too. But, yes, after a short while (i.e. about 1979 onwards) you can never be sure whether a set had old or new parts or a mix. It all depended on what Lego had in stock. 
     One question I have though, is why some of the solid stud heads I have in my collection are noticeably "squarer" in profile than others? Some don't have the noticeable tapering off at the top of the head above the eyes. The angle is much sharper. Anyone shed any light on this?
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