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What LEGO minifigure colour represents you best? Administrator Posts: 6,580
edited June 2020 in articles
What LEGO minifigure colour represents you best?

I'm working with the Women's Brick Initiative on an interesting topic - when you make a sigfig, what colour parts do you choose?

Some people use yellow, and some use other skin tones. Which would you choose, or would you create more than one sigfig with different colours?

To find out, we've created a survey, and we're looking for everyone to take it! To do so, please click on this link. It's quite short - only four questions, so will only take a minute or two.

We would love everyone to complete the survey. We are especially encouraging men to participate so we can get a balanced sample.

Again, the survey can be found here. Please feel free to share the link with anyone who might be interested, whether they would be considered an AFOL or not.

The results will be published later in the summer. Thank you for your support!

© 2020 Republication prohibited without prior permission.


  • playwellplaywell UKMember Posts: 2,233
    Did something bad happen already with the comments on the front page or did they just get turn off from the start in anticipation of what was to come?

    Anyway I will start with my constructive criticism before moving onto my white privileged response.

    Surprised that the picture is of only male minifigures heads. Also by putting yellow at the top there is an unconscious bias that yellow is more white than black before you even ask the question.

    On the survey:

    What age are you? - You dont need other (please tell me age is not fluid too)

    What ethnicity/ethnicities do you identify as (check all that apply)? - This is clearly written from an American viewpoint, I would advise you to look at how others categorise ethnicity from a more global perspective.

    I am not really clear from the post on the front page what it is your looking to find out. I think there is a legitimate question around if different ethnicities can identify themselves with yellow minifigures.

    Now from past posts its clear that identity AFOL groups are controversial. I am not sure brickset is doing itself any favours posting things that need commenting closed before it even begins.

    Its also now clear that the Women's Brick Initiative is very interested in identity politics, which is fine nothing wrong with that. But I thought brickset would want to keep out of politics as much as possible. 

    I know @MeganL is part of the brickset team and also part of the Women's Brick Initiative team. Again no problem with that but I guess my question is should we have a separation of church and state here?
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 20,313
    Are the colours in the survey meant to be LEGO colours? As I could not spot "light nougat" which I would associate with when using realistic flesh tone parts. The lightest colour on there is quite different to other pictures of light nougat on my screen, somewhere between light nougat and nougat.

  • lessjunkfoodlessjunkfood IndianapolisMember Posts: 115
    I know it is trying pinpoint skin color, but for my more traditional mind I would use the standard yellow to represent myself. It just seems “more Lego” than the flesh tone options. But to each their own, Lego’s a big hobby with plenty of room for all. 
  • playwellplaywell UKMember Posts: 2,233
    ^ I am the same but I think it might be because I see myself as being unlicensed.
  • 12651265 The Great State of TexasMember Posts: 1,092
    I voted for yellow.  I'm white.....but we all know that white bricks yellow over time.
  • The_RancorThe_Rancor Dorset, UKMember Posts: 2,334
    edited June 2020
    Pretty certain that comments were disabled on the front page article before they were even written because the vitriolic amongst the community couldn’t be trusted to deal with a simple survey with a cool head.

    I do actually think the article image putting the yellow minifigure head at the top associates it too heavily with the lighter end of the spectrum, but it’s an interesting topic all the same. I don’t tend to have a separate sig fig but I answered the survey as if I did.

    It did make me wonder about showing ethnicities more obviously in unlicensed ‘yellow’ themes. I guess it can be suggested with clothing and hairpieces but probably not executed through eyes and mouth printing.
  • LordmoralLordmoral Puerto RicoMember Posts: 886
    I am actually still surprised how the progressives consider that the people in Latin America can't label themselves Hispanics or Latinos/as, are the progressives so racists nowadyas that they took it upon themselves how to label us? Then again, that is the same crowd that thought the Land of Butter brand was racist featuring a beautiful Native American woman on the front box art and just portrayed the lands, you literally removed a beautiful woman and took her lands, or how the beautiful Aunt Jemina was removed from the pancake brand after surpassing the racist image it had, you are so jealous of our coexistence that your leaders continue to drive a wedge between us:
  • JudgeChuckJudgeChuck UKMember Posts: 1,549
    I see that the whole of the Middle East and North Africa has been relegated to "Other", along with half of the rest of the world, but at least the ones that most Americans will have heard of are there... /sarcasm /rolleyes
  • colaycolay OxfordshireMember Posts: 547
    IMO yellow is first, as it's the colour most people identify with as being a minifigure colour. This is always a no win situation. If a darker head had been placed 'first/on top' would people have said, why is this colour first, yellow is the traditional colour.

    This is the issue we are all facing. people need to see past colour
  • cody6268cody6268 Member Posts: 298
    Without even getting into politics, I think there's a reason yellow was chosen nearly 50 years ago, and why it should be stuck with. Only when licensed themes began to be a big deal did LEGO even bother.
  • BrainsluggedBrainslugged England (the grim North)Member Posts: 2,060
    I'm a white guy but would like to use one if the darker shades. I'm not gonna get cancelled for cultural appropriation, am I?
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 20,313
    I'm a white guy but would like to use one if the darker shades. I'm not gonna get cancelled for cultural appropriation, am I?
    No, but you might get abducted for choosing too dark a shade of green.

  • BrikingBriking Dorset, UKMember Posts: 762
    Seems like a really, really bad idea to bet involved with.
  • Bosstone100Bosstone100 USAMember Posts: 1,434
    edited June 2020
    How about we refrain from using racist terms like "white privilege"? It's designed to race bait.
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 15,024
    I think I understand why comments were disabled on the main page... 😬
    And probably why this discussion ought to be closed as well.

    Perhaps we can have a debate over the self-identification of the various shades of Hulk?

    Or if I were a tree, what kind of tree would I be?

    I still consider LEGO (and the minifigure) to be universal and neutral, with the aberrations being the licensed and house-themed tone variations. 

    It certainly demonstrates that the consumer seeks out licensed products that more accurately depict what is on the screen.  (But I don't recall why the second generation of Star Wars LEGO went to variation of flesh, rather than the traditional yellow.)
  • playwellplaywell UKMember Posts: 2,233
    edited June 2020
    How about we refrain from using racist terms like "white privilege"? It's designed to race bait.
    I was making fun of my own response and also the people that wouldn't like it all at the same time. I was acknowledging that I was critical of the survey both because it wasnt well written but also because I am warry of the intent. I dont like the term because being a white kid from east London I have seen too much underprivilege for it to really resonate with me and I was using the term to make fun of it.

    Saying that its not racist to call someone white and in some ways privileged "white privilege". The problem becomes when we are told because someone is white and privileged their opinion is invalid. Which brings us nicely back to the topic at hand, the commenting being closed and the only option being given was to "like" the post.
  • TheBigLegoskiTheBigLegoski Amsterdam, NederlandMember Posts: 1,435
    I cannot bring myself, or rather will not partake (as in: I choose not to) in this survey. Why? What purpose does it serve, to know who prefers which minifig colour / skin tone head, hands, or other minifig body parts for a potential sigfig, if you even have one for yourself?!? And suppose you do have a sigfig, just like e.g. the colour T-shirt you choose to wear today, tomorrow you'll wear another T-shirt with a different colour, perhaps some print on it, if that is your thing, or a tie, a shirt, a suit, a dress, a skirt, an avatar in a game, your shoes etc. etc. you can choose another minifig sigfig with a different hair-peace/headgear, face & body prints, Lego colours etc. etc.
    Well, why even bother to leave a reply when I am not partaking in the survey?!? To me this survey reeks of politics, political ideology and activism, and I do not care to have my Lego hobby tainted by any of it. Especially since politics already encroaches upon almost all other aspects of life. Actually, unfortunately Lego is not exempt for it either, as TLG unfortunately recently has once again also been hijacked by all the ongoing lunacy in the world, that this time has even resulted in: rioting, arson, looting, murder and killings, iconoclasm, and last but not least the insidious phenomenon known as 'cancel culture'.
    I never bothered to update my Legolas icon on this forum, because I like LOTR, I like those elf minifigs, but I could just as easily and happily use a picture of a green troll from either LOTR/Hobbit, or one of the non-licensed Lego themes (castle/CMF). There are plenty of other minifigs from various themes I equally like, both unlicensed and licensed such as: Space, CMF, City, SW, the Pirate theme to name but a few, that may or may not represent a human, and I could choose to use instead of my current one.
  • playwellplaywell UKMember Posts: 2,233
    So yellow minifigures were meant to represent everybody but in 2003 when Lego went to make a Lando Calrissian minifigure they obviously decided that yellow didn't work and they used brown instead.

    Since then Lego have passed up a few opportunities to show us that yellow figures can represent non white people.

    In 2014 we got the Lego movie with Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks and Liam Neeson all represented by yellow figures. However Morgan Freeman is the only non licenced figure not to be represented by a yellow figure.

    In 2019 Lego remade yellow star wars figures for the 20 year anniversary and again gave use the same Lando Calrissian rather than saying yes Lando can be yellow like we should have done in the first place.

    Now my view of this used to be that yellow figures can represent anyone and its just that Lego didn't really handle it well in the past. But then we got #60234 and I began to change my mind.

    It has been pointed out that there seems to be black a family in that set. To me the yellow against the black hair just didn't work well and I started to change the way I thought about it and I questioned if I saw yellow as white or not this whole time.

    I think Lego does have a bit or a problem here but saying that I have no idea what they can do about it. Yellow figures are Lego, they are iconic and I dont want to see them go.

    So as I hope you can see I have no problem looking at this issue and I think it is interesting.

    But if you want a debate around this issue you cant do it by closing commenting. If you dont want a debate then why post an article about it? If you want a group to look at it and come back with statistics and even conclusions then why are the "Women's Brick Initiative" the right people for the job?

    If brickset publish the results I hope that the commenting is opened. If not I hope that the results are publish as data only without any interpretation.

    I hope this was a bit more helpful to the discussion than my first post :)

  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 15,024
    ... I wish they just would have used an old Johnny Thunder head (w/moustache) for Lando in a pre-2003 SW set, so that @SMC wouldn't have the perfect point to illustrate that for all of the 'universality' that LEGO often represents - it clearly doesn't.

    I do point out that Darth Maul predates Lando when it comes to non-yellow minifigure heads, but one wonders how long that between 1999 and 2003 the LEGO design team was mulling over printing that sexy, sexy moustache on the extra TIE Fighter Pilot minifigure heads...

    Admittedly, I'd be the first guy to demand a Lando minifigure in the principle wave of Star Wars sets.   (Certainly before a Biggs Darklighter figure!)

    And it's not necessarily a bad thing that Lando was the first of many flesh variations.  And that there are many flesh variations that emphasize inclusion and the wide variety of flesh tones on planet Earth.  It is obvious when LEGO misses these cues from time-to-time - like the LEGO Movie.  I again completely agree with @SMC that it gives me pause that the LEGO Movie World is apparently fairly universal - except for Vitruvius and DC characters that have character-appropriate flesh tones.

    When all of the accounting is done, I don't think it matters, but it gives me pause...
  • vwong19vwong19 San DiegoMember Posts: 1,189

    40+ years ago Lego created the minifigure, a neutral race toy. Lego’s color palette back then consisted of about 7 colors so yellow seemed like a logical choice for the neutral skin tone. Now Lego has a color palette of 40 hues with 6 skin tones. 

    Does yellow represent light skin tone people? European (Ie Viking, Roman), American (I.e. Abe Lincoln, Native, ancient tribes), and Asian (sumo, samarai) seem to have a good representation in the CMF. 

    Darker skin tone? Zulu warrior, African tribal person, any black icon (Muhammad Ali, Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, etc) seem to be missing among CMF. I get that licenses would prohibit some people to be depicted in their uniforms, but there seems to be some opportunities to include more “people.”

    Am I upset that Lego uses yellow as their default for non-license themes? No... but that’s because I’m used to the simple yellow happy face having grown up in the 80s. Do I like the licensed themed minifgures? Yes! Besides being a super hero fan, I like the different races that are represented and the diversity that it offers.

    The shape of the minifigure is a trademark of Lego, but that doesn’t mean the color of the skin necessarily has to. Does skin color matter? If you are black, I think it does. Is it something that light colored people take for granted? Will kids stop playing with Lego if the yellow skin is phased out? Should skin color be a topic of discussion? How many people on Brickset are black?

    It seemed not too long ago that Lego started breaking away from gender stereotypes. If adding color to the minfigure helps in any way with race relations and perception, then I’m all for it. 
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 20,313
    SMC said:

    In 2019 Lego remade yellow star wars figures for the 20 year anniversary and again gave use the same Lando Calrissian rather than saying yes Lando can be yellow like we should have done in the first place.

    Wasn't the point of the anniversary figures to be replicas of the original ones? If they changed the design (aside from the back saying it is an anniversary figure) then it would not have been a very good replica. If they changed his skin colour from reddish brown to yellow, there would be complaints that they have made him into a yellow guy, which some people equate to being white.

    But that also brings up why he was chosen. Was it due to popularity, or was it a race-based decision - would there have been an outcry of racism if a non-white(yellow) face was not chosen for the anniversary figures? I'd have preferred an anniversary "classic grays" Boba Fett.

    vwong19 said:

    Darker skin tone? Zulu warrior, African tribal person, any black icon (Muhammad Ali, Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, etc) seem to be missing among CMF.

    Who is this guy? Lennox Lewis used to wear red gloves and often wore red shorts. Could it be him if someone wanted it to? Is Hank Aaron missing? There are already a couple of baseball players, so he is represented. He is only missing if you equate yellow to mean white skin.

    I think a bigger problem is if LEGO go to using flesh tones, thin what City sets will look like. How many reddish brown minifigures should there be in the range? Should it be that they map the demographics or the LEGO buying population, or the world population, or the general western population, or individual country populations meaning different sets for different countries. Would sets sit on shelves because they made the wrong distribution? What about the standard cops and robbers set? If they make a black cop and a white robber, is that OK? If they make black and white cops but only white robbers, is that OK? If they make a set where there is one white cop and one black robber, is the OK? In my view, the latter will be picked up as a racist set. No matter what else they produce in the same range, if they depict a black man as a robber being chased by a white cop in a single set then there will be claims of racism and calls for the set to be banned. I understand why LEGO don't want to go there.

  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 15,024
    Given than LEGO is a multi-billion dollar International privately-held company, they may ignore the 'cancel' culture and stick to their principles.  The fact they announced they would be de-emphasizing police sets in the current climate is window-dressing pandering and I sincerely doubt will have any impact on their production, profits, distribution or sales.  Maybe parents stop buying 'pro' police stuff, but I'd be betting against that everytime.  

    Just like with the Shell nonsense, I am sure LEGO will become a target, and it worries me that the complete lack of nuance in our political climate may result in some 'worse' (incoherent) change in the product.  I do not think it would improve anything by adding various shades into the non-license hopper.

    I can't wait for a press release where LEGO defends their licensed products by pointing out the franchisors want accurate flesh-tone figures to reflect the actors and characters in the franchise and/or license.

    Other than SpongeBob, I'm not sure how well those properties would look.  Yellow Ninja Turtles or Thanos?
  • The_RancorThe_Rancor Dorset, UKMember Posts: 2,334
    ^ It’s a really small thing but TLG could introduce a couple more afro hair style pieces and sprinkle them around more often in their unlicensed ‘yellow’ themes. The idea being that a wider variety of people can go ‘hey that minifigure has hair like mine’, whilst keeping the concept of Lego’s classic yellow characters.

    I’m certain TLG will stick with yellow though for unlicensed as that type of minifig is a signature of the brand - and there are no shareholders to tell them otherwise. I would just think of licensed characters as Lego minifigs that have been designed & decorated to more accurately represent the ones we see on screen, human or otherwise. Not sure where mini dolls go on that spectrum but the female leaning themes have a history of not using yellow for their figures in Lego.
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 15,024
    ^ Ah, but one must be EXTRMEMELY careful as to what parts may be construed as representative of one ethnic group.  That's a trap.

    Without espousing a bunch of potentially insensitive examples that would only serve to reinforce certain stereotypes (in the eyes of certain folks deliberately sensitive to these things), I would only suggest a wide variety of pieces be made available.  

    (And I write this post as my son customizes his Nintendo Mii, which has so many options, you can do a pretty good version of Invincible Iron Man.)
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 15,024
    CCC said:

    Who is this guy? Lennox Lewis used to wear red gloves and often wore red shorts. Could it be him if someone wanted it to?
    Maybe it's my bias, but I would never consider this to be an approximation of Lennox Lewis.  But, moreso because other than in the '88 Olympics, I don't recall him ever wearing headgear, and he has very distinct dreadlocks and always had facial hair.

    But if you were to swap those, then LEGO would have an infringement lawsuit on it's hands...
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 20,313
    Yes, the headgear is more amateur than pro but most Lego boxers wear it. And your last sentence is important too. If they make a generic figure that is obviously someone living, they may have trouble. Whereas you and I can change the head and hair if we want.
  • MeganLMeganL Chicagoland Outpost, Brickset TowersMember Posts: 132
    edited July 2020
    @SMC Thanks for sharing your thoughts.  A couple of my own, in no particular order:

    We got the idea for the survey from hearing from some WBI members that they didn't feel like they could build sigfigs that adequately represented them.  Doing a little more anecdotal research, we found that some people use yellow, some people use other skin tones, and others use both.  Considering some of the history that has been discussed in this thread, we thought it might be interesting to get a sense of what some of the broader AFOL community felt about the issue. 

    I disabled comments for a couple of reasons: first, the purpose was only to make people aware of the survey, and for them to participate if they so chose.  It's a valid point that I didn't want the level of comments as we've had for some of the other articles because - the point was just to make people aware of the survey.  

    Brickset is just one of the fan communities to share the link (and much thanks to Huw for agreeing) - New Elementary and The Brothers Brick (among others) have also shared the link for us.  Several LUG Ambassadors have shared the link with their membership as well.

    As for some of your other points - on the ethnicity question, you're absolutely right in that it's US centric.  It's one of the reasons we added "other" - we expect to learn from this survey and if/when we do future surveys we'll be able to bring a much more global perspective.  The image used in the post just happens to be one I found while looking for something to represent different skin tones - the observation about the colour order has been made in different forums.  I've used a different picture when doing follow up.

    Colours that were used were LEGO colours - we used the HEX/RGB codes used for LEGO skin tones so it would be consistent no matter where it was being viewed.

    I respect those who choose not to take the survey, and I'll talk to Huw to see if he's interested in publishing some of the results when they're ready.  

    Edited to add: sorry for the delay in responding.  I'm in the middle of a move, and it's taken all my time this week.
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