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What's in a name (minifigures)

A Member of LEGO Company's staff drops in here from time to time to answer questions from LEGO fans like you.

What's in a name (minifigures)

Postby banthafodder » Sat Jul 04, 2009 12:29 am

This is a rather esoteric question but why do we refer to lego figures as minifigures. Mini to what? I understand that the original lego people were built out of 2x2 bricks with a large satellite for a head and that the minifigures replaced these poor misshapen souls. But now is the time for the minifigure to become the standard figure and everything else named relative to them. Stand proud minifig... er I mean figures and demand to be recognized as the true figure and not a second class citizen to those titans of old. Take it for what its worth but I would like to here other ideas on this.
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Re: What's in a name (minifigures)

Postby meeotch » Sat Jul 04, 2009 10:20 am

Great question. I wonder if part of it has to do with the fact that Legoland still has displays in "midi-scale", so it's still mini in reference to that.
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Re: What's in a name (minifigures)

Postby theJudeAbides » Tue Jul 07, 2009 3:05 pm

banthafodder wrote:Mini to what?

I would assume to humans in general. One thing you should remember is that the word "figure" not only means "human model," but can also be used to refer to the genereral shape of a person's. e.g. "Allen's figure had steadily improved since starting a new diet."

Couple this with the fact that both LEGO employees and fans often make minifigs of themselves (realistic and otherwise) and I think you begin to see the pattern.


An alternative (and much less likely) explanation would be that they're "mini" compared to the old Technic figs, which were discontinued not so long ago. They were 3-4 times as tall as the minifig. Kids today may not remember them, but I cherish my old ones. I always preferred them to the minifigs, but apparently I was in a very tiny minority (I guess there are more albino geniuses than there are those like me). Oh well.
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Re: What's in a name (minifigures)

Postby Iare Tosevite » Tue Jul 07, 2009 6:27 pm

The first minifig use were to be a baby to more regular portioned lego people.

They discontinued the regular people and used the baby mold. That's why there's unusual ratio of huge head and smaller body.

Yeah that's right we have lot of lego babies :D
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Re: What's in a name (minifigures)

Postby Mister Ed » Wed Jul 08, 2009 7:34 am

See, I always saw it as being mini in comparison to other "figures". Like action figures. LEGO minifigures are about the smallest articulated figures you will see. But of course, I am probably completely wrong, since it seems far more likely that the term involves a comparison that is internal to LEGO.
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Re: What's in a name (minifigures)

Postby Solo » Thu Jul 09, 2009 1:21 am

I thought the same as Mr Ed, but I think Iare knows what he's talking about for some reason.
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Re: What's in a name (minifigures)

Postby LEGOscum » Fri Jul 10, 2009 7:55 am

meeotch wrote:Great question. I wonder if part of it has to do with the fact that Legoland still has displays in "midi-scale", so it's still mini in reference to that.


That section of LEGOLand is called Miniland and not Midiland, and the scale is referred to as Miniland-scale.

I guess we'll find out the answer in the upcoming minifig DK book.
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Re: What's in a name (minifigures)

Postby speaknspell » Fri Sep 04, 2009 8:17 am

thats actually a fascinating question, I'll look into this one.

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Re: What's in a name (minifigures)

Postby Paramorefan » Fri Sep 04, 2009 11:19 am

I'm guessing minifigure is called that due to the size and compared to other figures such as action figures and large barbie dolls. So yeah, that's my theory anyway.
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Re: What's in a name (minifigures)

Postby buhs » Fri Sep 04, 2009 5:14 pm

I think banthafodder answered his own question while posing it to us. I have always accepted that they are called "minifigs" because the original LEGO figures were the ones made out of LEGO blocks topped by a special 2x2 block with multi-articulated arms coming off of it (and the hands were yellow circles with a knob and socket joint). The heads weren't radar dishes, but rather a large marble size yellow ball with a printed face, and two studs out the sides for ears (the hair or hat snapped onto the head by gripping to the ears). I actually have at lease one of these heads still floating around one of my LEGO bins somewhere. As kids of the '70s will remember these were the only LEGO figures available until 1978 when the minifig was introduced.
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Re: What's in a name (minifigures)

Postby bluemoose » Sat Sep 05, 2009 12:24 am

buhs wrote:As kids of the '70s will remember these were the only LEGO figures available until 1978 when the minifig was introduced.


Not quite true - kids of the '70s (e.g. me) will remember the short lived (1975-1977) 'hands in pockets' figs that pre-dated the minifig as we know it today, but which share many common attributes with them -
http://www.1000steine.com/brickset/images/0147-1.jpg

The older, bigger figs are often called 'maxifigs'
http://www.1000steine.com/brickset/images/0200-1.jpg

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Re: What's in a name (minifigures)

Postby buhs » Sat Sep 05, 2009 12:23 pm

Thanks Bluemoose! Yes, those were the full sized figures I was thinking of... thanks for digging up the picture. I do remember those "hands in pockets" statues... but they were short lived... and I never really thought of them as minifigs (although obviously some do, so I accept your exception to my statement above.) I originally didn't see the need to bring them up as the topic was regular vs. minifigs.
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Re: What's in a name (minifigures)

Postby legodavee123 » Wed Sep 16, 2009 11:00 am

Also, if you look at the most recent edition of Brick Journal, you'll find out that the minifigs were actually rushed to production. I'll have to look up the specifics, but essentially there was a product designer working for LEGO who was leaving to go work at one of LEGO's competitors in the late 70's. Hence, LEGO became worried that they'd have more competition for sets with minifigs, so they put a rush on releasing the minifigs. That's why you would get some sets like 600 Police Car where the minifig wouldn't even fit into the vehicle! Those sets were never intended to be released that way-- LEGO was just overanxious to get their minifigs into production.

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Re: What's in a name (minifigures)

Postby bluemoose » Sun Sep 20, 2009 7:34 am

Hi Jeremy - what LEGO call things & what the AFOL community call things are often different. The old figs are also sometimes called "Homemaker figs" by the AFOL community, as well as 'maxifigs'. I agree the super-size figs are also often called 'maxifigs' too. Confusing, isn't it :-)

Good to meet you yesterday in the Milton Keynes store. Hopefully we'll see you in Swindon in a couple of weeks time.

Ian

LEGOscum wrote:These are referred to as "LEGO People" (or at least the lady who took me around the LEGO museum in Billund did) and not maxifigs.

Maxifigs are the x8 figures used in LEGO retail displays.
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Re: What's in a name (minifigures)

Postby LEGOscum » Fri Oct 02, 2009 12:19 pm

Hi Ian

I'll be at Swindon at around 12. I've roped in another six people to come along. No, not an entourage.

Nice pics on Flikr. I'd add my ones to the pool but my hands were shaking too much from excitement at the time.

I have to correct myself. The original (waggly armed) LEGO figures are LEGO Family. I was thinking of the peg-like Fisher Price toys who were called Little People.
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