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Visual.ly just release this awesome infographic about the LEGO minifigure.

It this all correct information?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Please forgive the length of this but I was careful to check all the facts from the graphic and include source information.

All information in this infographic, except for those that follow below, can be confirmed from the Wikipedia.org page devoted to minifigs: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lego_minifigure. I would not deny that Wikipedia can contain errors, however, knowing the importance that the LEGO group puts on its reputation as a company, it would make sense that they had at least checked the page for blatant errors. I'm only guessing of course, but as Wikipedia is a crowd sourced tool, well monitored, it can be reasonably relied on for good information.

The following points had to be confirmed through other quoted sources or other articles on Wikipedia.

According to this thread: http://www.bricksetforum.com/discussion/911/production-oddities user davee123 indicates he learned in a meeting at LEGO, by an exec, that the heads were given holes as a safety measure against choking. Now they have changed that policy in order to accommodate putting the LEGO logo inside the recessed stud. They apparently felt the hole for not choking had not provided any true safety advantage.

The claim that the Police is the first minifig to have been released is difficult to positvely confirm. In the Wikipedia page it is noted that the first minifigs were “police officers, astronauts and pirates”. Hispa Brick Magazine: http://www.hispabrickmagazine.com/en/content/hbm003-lego%C2%AE-minifig-or-life-doesn%C2%B4t-end-30 in its article on the history of minifigs notes that the Police were released in conjunction with “a fire man, a street worker, space figures, knights...”. The first female minifig nurse is noted to have been released two months after that of the above listed. This article also confirms that the police officer is to date the most popular and that there are indeed 41 different variations of them. The article also states the number of minifigs sold per year to be 122 million in accordance with the graphic as well as the claim that with the number of parts there are a possible 8 quadrillion combinations.

This LEGO wiki site: http://lego.wikia.com/wiki/Indian gives information on Native American minifigs being first to have distinct 'racial features', however the drawing on of the nose I was not able to find definitive confirmation of through reliable sources.

The Wikipedia page concerning LEGO video games: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Lego_video_games lists 43 different games, not 42 though this could be due to a new release after the making of the infographic. Most release dates for games licensed to non-LEGO media checked out except for the LEGO Indiana Jones which is here dated 2008 instead of 2007.

According to this article at Gizmodo which claims it was created in collaboration with the LEGO Group: http://gizmodo.com/5070884/exclusive-the-lego-minifig-timeline, the 1990 appearance of the ghost is correct with its specialized appearance. This article also confirms that licensed minifigs began with Star Wars and the character Luke Skywalker, though the infographic merely states “a Star Wars character”.

According to the LEGO Professionals: http://aboutus.lego.com/en-us/lego-group/the_lego_history/ , the Indiana Jones line license was signed in 2007, though the sets are noted as being released in 2008. The release of Prince of Persia is also noted as being one year later (2010) than the infographic though does not note the time of contract which may be 2009. As for the Batman series, I found a website called Brick Superheroes: http://www.bricksuperheroes.com/lego-batman-minifigs.asp which delineates the different Batman minifigs and states the first release to be 2006 as indicated in the graphic.

This article by Cory Doctorow on BoingBoing http://boingboing.net/2012/05/15/history-of-gendering-in-lego.html gives his personal count of gender ratio which he shows in pie graph and states that for the five years he studied he came up with an overall ratio of 3.74:1 but he notes that the first year he took account for, 1989, had its own ratio of 13.5:1. He does say, “The imbalanced ratio of masculine to feminine minifigs persists today, though it has lessened over time. I have seen several different numbers for this ratio, so I decided to do my own count” which would indicate the ratio shown in the graphic would be difficult to confirm or deny. I was unable to find definitive proof either way myself.

Wikipedia has this page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lego_Homemaker for the Homemaker line which confirms the dates of those sets.

This Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lego_timeline confirms the Paradisa dates, but lists the first release date of the Scala line as 1979 not 1997, however, the LEGO wikia page on Scala: http://lego.wikia.com/wiki/Scala indicates it was first released from 1979 to 1980 and then it was re-released again from 1997 to 2001.

The Wikipedia page devoted to LEGO Belville confirms the release year as 1994: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belville_(Lego).

Wikipedia also has an article devoted to the LEGO Friends line which confirms not only the date but most of the information on the graphic about 'mini dolls' vs. Minifigs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lego_Friends whereas this article: http://www.brickset.com/news/article/?ID=2110 at the Brickset site confirms that according to the fact sheet for Friends, the size difference is 5 millimeters.

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8  
+1 for the epic research and answer –  pcantin Jan 11 '13 at 3:12
1  
Most of the facts and figures are also available in the The LEGO Group Company Profile which has a section on the minifugre. They too state only mention the "first minifigures are launched for the themes "Town, Space and Castle", and also has the "two months after" notice for Nurses. –  Zhaph - Ben Duguid Jan 12 '13 at 12:19
    
Also, Wikipedia is notoriously bad at letting you edit articles about you - so while TLG might have attempted to fact check it, they would have to wait until an "independent party" updates the article with a link to another printed source ;) –  Zhaph - Ben Duguid Jan 12 '13 at 12:26

The infographic is visually stunning, and many of the statements are quite correct.

However, there are a few errors.

For example, the following statements are inaccurate:

Minifigs don't have ears

Some do, for example:

  • Dobby from the Harry Potter theme
  • Yoda
  • Jar Jar Binks
  • The Lord of the Rings elves

They have a hole [in the top of their heads]

Many modern minifigs don't have this. Some have a recessed stud instead:

Minifig head with receeed stud

1989 Eyelashes... added

It is true that variety was introduced to minifig's faces was added in 1989, specifically in the pirate sets. However, none of these figs appears to have anything that resembles eyelashes.

122 Million minifigs are sold per year

This may have been accurate when the infographic was produced. However, according to TLG, 340 million minifigs were planned for production in 2012. It seems likely that the number of figs sold should approximate the number manufactured, which suggests that considerably more than 122 million are now sold annually.

There have been 42 video game(s) based on LEGO sets

Of course, this has been true at some point, since there are now more than 42 video games based on LEGO sets. However, when the infographic was produced, 42 may not have been the correct number, as the Wikipedia article referenced by the infographic (which almost certainly contained a list of 42 games at the time) is incomplete. For example, it misses out:


During my research, I did discover something that really surprised me. According to the infographic, a police man was the first minifig, released in 1978. Now, in 1978 several sets were released which included minifigures for the first time, and amongst these was a policeman. This let me to believe that the policeman was just one of the first, rather than specifically the first. However, in 2003 TLG published an article entitled "LEGO minifigure turns 25". Now, although this article is no longer available at the LEGO website, it is available at web.archive.org, and one of the images on this article was captioned, "Here is the first LEGO minifigure from 1978... ". Unfortunately, the actual image is missing from the archive... but the image is still present on the LEGO web site - a policeman from the 1978 set number 600. So, according to TLG, the first LEGO minifig was, indeed, the policeman! I'm still not sure what this actually means: was he the first designed, moulded, prototyped or... what? Whatever it means, it turns out that the information in the infographic is well sourced.

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Maybe by "a hole on the top of their head", they actually mean the recessed stud, which does have a hole in it. –  Joubarc Jan 10 '13 at 12:19
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They specifically mention the purpose of being able to breath through it though, and a recessed stud doesn't fit that description. –  jncraton Jan 10 '13 at 12:35
    
The 'hole' statement, as far as I know, was true originally but the reasoning behind it must have been revised. –  pcantin Jan 11 '13 at 0:37
    
Agreed about the hole statement being true initially - however our own Joubarc has had an official answer on that one –  Zhaph - Ben Duguid Jan 14 '13 at 22:08

I'd be mostly sceptical about the sources listed at the bottom of the infographic that apparently come from Wikipedia, Wikia, various blogging networks, and in particular this article published in 2008 from a entertainment site named 'retardzone' which includes no references.

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Why would you doubt a source called retardzone? Sound perfeclly legit. –  pcantin Jan 9 '13 at 22:18
    
Agreed - they should at least have referenced the Wikipedia references directly [citation needed]. –  Zhaph - Ben Duguid Jan 12 '13 at 12:26

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