28 August 2018

The LEGO® Minifigure at 40: development prototypes

Posted by Admin
The LEGO® Group have sent us these amazing images to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the LEGO minifigure and we just had to share them with you.

Meet the minifigures before minifigures. Here are three of the original minifigures released in 1978 alongside their rather spooky developmental stages. Tap/click any image to enlarge.

Development of the LEGO® police minifigure

  1. I'm glad they ditched ol' lumpy-squarehead guy pronto. 
  2. The second one you probably recognise, as this non-moving style of minifigure was released in sets in the mid-1970s. It is interesting to note the filenames of the images we were sent indicate these are called "stage extras", a name I've never heard before.
  3. Amusing that it took until 2013 for TLG to release the third one, but pretty cool that they did!
  4.  The final figure as released in 1978 – note the stickered torso. Boy did I hate those as a kid! Sort of charming now though.

Development of the LEGO doctor minifigure

Hmmm, more lumpy-squareheads. By the way, you can see these in a glass case in the basement at LEGO House in Billund.

Development of the LEGO space minifigure

These ones aren't on display in LEGO House, as I recall. Those plate-head guys are kinda cool I think. The third one is really interesting – all the decoration they clearly intended to achieve was surely out of financial and perhaps technical reach. I wonder if that is an early version of what became the Classic Space logo?

More early tests for LEGO minifigures

Here's the whole gang – and more! Definitely tap/click this one to see the blue guys up the back.

And what are those red boxes at the back?...

Mould prototypes 

No, it's not TLG's first attempt at Han Solo's carbon-freezing chamber – after all The Empire Strikes Back hadn't even been written yet. No, it's a quick minifigure mould from 1977 made just of LEGO bricks!

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Images in this post were kindly supplied by the LEGO Group. All content represents the opinions of New Elementary authors and not the LEGO Group. All images are © The LEGO Group. 


  1. You know that scene in Alien 4?

    1. The room full of weird Ripley clones.

    2. Oh yehhh but this is creepier

  2. The "Mold Prototypes" are silicone molds as the are used as a first mold for quick prototypes for many products. You start with a model that you want to "copy", fix it in the middle of a closed box (in this case the Lego box) and fill it with a liquid silicone mass. When the silicone has hardened, you cut it into two halves with a sharp knife (you can see the cutting marks on the edges of the red "rubberish" blocks). Then you take out the original model and fill the mold with another material, usually a special polyurethane mixture.

    This way you can get up to 50 copies of your original model without wasting too much money (and time) for a "real" mold. Nowadays you can 3D print the parts, but silicone molds are still in use today, because you can get a better surface structure without "steps" with them. Sometimes a first prototype is made with a 3D printer, then ground and polished and finally used as a master for a silicone mold.

  3. Did you notice the prototype mini legs? In the "whole gang" picture there is a minifig with short, but movable legs. Those were released just now with the Harry Potter collectable series