18 October 2020

Minifigs & recolours: LEGO® 75551 Brick-Built Minions and Their Lair & 75549 Unstoppable Bike Chase

Last time, Tim Johnson began working through all the new LEGO® parts from Minions: The Rise of Gru 75551 Brick-Built Minions and Their Lair (£44.99/ $49.99/ 48.73€) as well as 75549 Unstoppable Bike Chase (£17.99 / $19.99 / 19.49€) and today he completes this analysis by examining the Minion minifigures and the recolours. The products in this article were provided for free by LEGO; the author's opinions are not biased by this.

LEGO® Minifigures in 75549 and 75551

75549 comes with Stuart, Gru and Bob. Gru has 2 expressions and printing on the rear of his torso. The Minions come in their traditional overalls.

As for 75551, this set features Kevin in the traditional costume, while Stuart and Bob have different outfits: Light Royal Blue/ Bright Light Blue pyjamas and a Flame Yellowish Orange/ Bright Light Orange rubber suit with Black stripe, respectively. Note also that their eyes are different prints from 75549. The trio also come with incongruous headwear: a construction helmet, a conical Asian-style hat and there's also a fire helmet, not pictured.

Given the Minions are composed of studded bricks, you can’t rotate their heads. This makes them less ‘poseable’ which seems counter-intuitive but perhaps might have been a deliberate decision so that the constituent elements match existing LEGO System designs more closely? However, 90° rotations are of course possible as shown above.

Pulling them to bits, you can see their bodies echo earlier LEGO elements like Star Wars droid bodies, but those would be challenging to use in a creation of your own. There’s more interest in their other constituent parts however, so let’s go through those now.

LEGO Minion heads

The 'minifigures' created for sets based on existing IPs frustrate many builders as the heads are so specialised but in the case of the Minions, the heads sit surprisingly well within the LEGO System. And you know what, you might even find a practical use for them. They are essentially 2x2 domed parts in Bright Yellow/ Yellow ranging in height, but with Black goggles that comprise of a headband with side-studs.

  1. The shortest – Minifig Head Special, Minion, Low, 2-Eyed Goggles (6309132 | 68986) which is used for Bob – is equivalent to a 2x2 dome (30367) with 2x2 round plate underneath.
  2. Then comes Stuart who is is the same height as the ‘bell jar’ piece (30151). There are two printed versions of Stuart: 75551 has Minifig Head Special, Minion, Medium, 1-Eyed Goggles, Smile, Hair print (6310573 | 69101) while 75549 has the variant Open Mouth Smile print (6310455 | 69073)
  3. Finally the tallest – Minifig Head Special, Minion, High, 2-Eyed Goggles, Smile print (6310330 |  69061) used for Kevin – sits 2 plates higher than the bell jar and 4 plates higher than a regular dome.
As the eye connections on the goggles are side studs, you could think of these new parts as ‘SNOT domes’. The level at which the eyes are positioned seems to be pretty much within the System grid, but I wasn’t quite sure. It felt like they were perhaps microscopically higher, and indeed in my picture above you can see the tiniest of gaps between the light grey bricks and the dark grey tiles below them. Perhaps this is just the regular tolerance though. It seems unlikely to affect your building, should you decide to employ the side-studs in a construction.

Those rounded eyes inspired me to locate similarly rounded LEGO elements, which became a fun exercise in creating Minion binoculars and... monoculars?


LEGO Minion arms

Across sets 75549 and 75551 there are these 3 versions of the arm; 75549 containing 4 in Yellow (6300211 | 67908) while 75551 has 2 in Yellow, 2 in Bright Light Orange with a Black Line print (6309175) and 2 in Bright Light Blue with White Hand print (6310566).

If arms like these, which seem to be becoming more common, strike you as being too specialised to use in your builds then perhaps reconsider them as being an angled connector with a Technic pin at one end and a clip at the other. The angle is around 110°.

Other notable parts in 75551 Brick-Built Minions and Their Lair

At last we have 2x Tile Round 2 x 2 with Bottom Stud Holder in Dark Green/ Green (6238881 | 14769), and it is exclusive to this set at least for now.
There are three useful parts recoloured in Bright Blue/ Blue, coincidentally all inverted pieces.
  • 8x Slope Curved 2 x 1 Inverted (6308097 | 24201) which now also comes in Super Mario 40414 Monty Mole & Super Mushroom Expansion Set
  • 16x Slope Curved 2 x 2 Inverted (6307924 | 32803) which now also comes in 71377 King Boo and the Haunted Yard Expansion Set
  • 4x Bracket 1 x 1 - 1 x 1 Inverted (6307926 | 36840) which currently remains exclusive to this set
Two Yellow parts are new for 2020:
  • 8x Brick Round Corner 3 x 3 x 2 Dome Top in Yellow (6299762 | 88293) which also now appear in 43179 Mickey Mouse & Minnie Mouse Buildable Characters and 71368 Toad's Treasure Hunt Expansion Set
  • 4x Tile 2 x 2 Corner in Yellow (6308099 | 14719) which also appears in Mickey & Minnie
  • There is 1x Equipment Boomerang in Brick Yellow/ Tan (6289810 | 25892) which remains exclusive to this set.
  • Plate 1 x 6 in Medium Nougat (6295464 | 3666) appears in a couple of other 2020 sets, and you get 4 here.
Notable for their quantity are the 48 Brick Round Corner 2 x 2 Macaroni in Yellow. Some other common parts in large quantities in 75551 are: 36x Plate 1 x 1 in Blue, 26x Plate 1 x 1 in Yellow and 25x Plate 1 x 2 in Yellow.

The completed set 75549 Unstoppable Bike Chase

As mentioned earlier there is little of interest in this set for adults. It comprises a post-apocalyptic-esque bike plus a smaller vehicle that really looks like it should be able to propel itself... yet needs to be towed along by the bike? I’m sure the movie will explain everything in a logical and clear manner.

It’s a fun-looking bike with a nice profile, achieved with a minimum of elements – the entire set only has 136.
Atypically for me, I applied the stickers as they seem relatively useful and the parts are common enough. The skull face is cool; it makes me think of the artist Pete Fowler.

The completed set 75551 Brick-Built Minions and Their Lair

This set is much more fun, coming in at 876 elements and although it is a basic, relatively unremarkable build I found an innate satisfaction in building curved LEGO walls and topping the lot with quarter-domes. Despite the differences between the Minions' insides, it does get repetitive if you build all 3 yourself so this is definitely a good one to share with friends and family.
The completed Giant Kevin and Stuart are frankly delightful. The arms in particular are highly poseable, with rotation at the shoulder, wrist and fingers.
I am really impressed by the design of the feet. It can’t have been easy to engineer something sturdy enough to support the giant Minion that still looks true to the source material, and not only has the designer achieved that; they’ve also created a footprint that allows for wide rotation, providing more posing options.
Their rear halves are huge doors you open to reveal all sorts of technical guffins inside. Admittedly this would be far more impressive had I applied the stickers. A little Technic work towards the end of the build creates the interior dial which rotates the Minions’ eyes; a superb play function. The lack of space dictates a lack of many other play functions, although there is a fold-down panel inside Stuart that the minifigure stands on.
Naturally, Giant Kevin’s interior is the most spacious. It houses an impressive bank of monitors – or they would be impressive had I, again, applied the stickers, but I was lacking Dark Blue 2x2 tiles in my collection!
©2020 The LEGO Group

Here is the official artwork showing Kevin’s fully stickered interior.

Striking a nice balance between playability and cost effectiveness, you can deconstruct Kevin and construct the much smaller Bob from his parts (much to Stuart’s amazement). I’ve read many comments online about people’s frustration that all 3 Minions cannot be built from just one copy of this set but I like the fact that it strongly encourages kids to rebuild their LEGO set.

If you're buying 75551 (or anything!) consider using our affiliate links: USA LEGO Shop at Home, USA Amazon, UK LEGO Shop at Home, UK Amazon. New Elementary earn from qualifying purchases.

And if you own a copy of LEGO Architecture 21045 Trafalgar Square you can recreate the climactic scenes from the first Minions movie. Yes, I watched it. I was left with the thought that if you put a monkey in a room for an infinite amount of time with a typewriter and an awful lot of sugar, it would eventually produce the script for the Minions movie. Probably pretty quickly actually. I can confidently say I won’t be seeking out The Rise of Gru in cinemas next year, but its effects on LEGO System will be welcome in my parts collection forever.



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1 comment:

  1. Bob's outfit actually fits with the straw hat, as it's modeled after the famous yellow tracksuit Bruce Lee wears in the unfinished film Game of Death (the same outfit that inspired The Bride's outfit from Kill Bill). So it basically appears to be what the Minions will wear when they're performing Kung Fu. Or at least attempting to do so. The color is off, but they probably went with a color that would read as yellowish, without appearing to be a naked Minion.

    The fold-down panel in Stuart's room would probably make more sense if Stuart were standing on it, in his pajamas, instead of Kevin in standard overalls. It's supposed to be a hide-a-bed. This will be the only Minion with pajamas, while both Kevin and Bob will get their own Kung Fu outfits next year.

    The bodies are interesting in that they're molded in _three_ different colors. The overalls are blue, but the shoes are molded in black, and the arm sockets and collar area are molded in yellow. I don't believe this is a first, but it's certainly unusual. The other two outfits get a little weird as a result of using the same molds, but it would have been highly inefficient to do otherwise. The pajamas are tri-molded with white feet (socks?), a medium-blue body, and a yellow collar...which is painted over in medium-blue (and looks a bit off as a result). The reason it's painted instead of just molded in the same color is so the studs remain yellow and blend into Stuart's head. The Kung Fu body, on the other hand, has the feet and body molded in the same color, and the collar area is again yellow that's painted to match the body. This time it's not as obvious, as the desired color is yellow enough to hide the presence of a yellow base underneath, where the pajama collar just has a weird greenish tinge. But the design of the mold is clearly tailored to the shape of the overalls, as the division between yellow and blue is precisely matched to the way the mold is designed. Most likely this was done so that even when every last hint of paint is scrubbed off the body, the basic look of the Minion color scheme will remain intact (and 100% SFW).

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