No, they are not meant to come off (and neither are their hands) and I imagine that doing so repeatedly will cause them to become loose, as is the case with hands.
I have noticed that the hands come off a lot easier nowadays compared to 1970s/1980s vintage Lego, but I'm rarely sadistic enough to rip their arms off :)
To answer the first part of the question, the Company Profile presentation (deep, direct link) states:
When the minifigure first appeared, it was decided that its face should have only one colour: yellow. And that its facial features should be happy and neutral . The figure would have no sex, race or role – these would be determined by the child’s ...
I found this interesting comment by J on a blog post about LEGO female oriented sets.
I did a count of male and female mini-figures by theme in the 2011
releases for which we have visual evidence. The modular house line
always tends to be more balanced so there’s still potential there but
the City theme is particularly bad this year. Here’s the ...
You can do that with scale model water decals. You can buy that in blank sheets and print out your designs with an inkjet printer. You can also use products that help those water decals set (adhere) and conform to the surface deformation and use scale model varnishes to seal it in place.
Water decal sheets
Setting solution (sticks better)
All new magnet sets introduced by LEGO will have the figures glued, as will any re-makes of existing sets.
In 2009 LEGO started producing sets of minifigures standing on magnetic bricks. At that time, the figures were removable, although some felt that they were of lower quality than the figs in regular LEGO sets.
In early 2011, however, LEGO ...
Actual Minifigures In Space
There have been a number of videos posted from the ISS mission, where we can clearly see one of the astronauts (Satoshi Furukawa) on the station holding a model with some minifigures:
On the Gallery Pages they list out "Working and living in space - This is the LEGO models shown in the videos"
In the shots there are there are ...
The part in question shows up as a "Minifig Gravity Stunt Handle" (part number x817) on Peeron and a "Turntable Spinning with Sports Trick Handle" (item number bb128) on BrickLink. Looks like it appears in two sets:
Snowboard Super Pipe:
Skateboard Vert Park Challenge:
It seems like you understand why there are unique minifigs, but I'll point it out explicitly anyway. Unique minifigs add character to sets, and add to playability. For example, I always wanted this guy as a kid:
Without him, my pirates were just a leaderless band, but once they have a fearless leader with a peg leg and hook, things become a lot more ...
You can use some sugar liquid to use as temporary glue to make the head stuck to the torso. Then wait till the sugar is sticky and then try to remove the helmet. Once the helmet is loose you can put the head and torso in warm water to loosen the sugar glue and take it off. Then wash thoroughly to remove remaining sugar.
It can be done, but you need to be able to handle the packages. Different minifigure series may require different approaches, from barcodes to patterns of dots or dimples to feeling for certain characteristic parts in the bags. Those approaches have been documented in a number of places:
Series 6 (feel + dots)
Series 5 (feel)
Series 4 (bumps)
Series 3 (...
The minifigure is so-called because the original LEGO "Family" figures that were released in 1974 where somewhat larger, with bodies made from 2x2 Bricks, and arms made from hinged tubes.
There's a bit more of a condensed history in the minifigure tag wiki, and there is a bit more information about the minifigure as we know it today in the Company Profile
Part (or mould) changes have numerous reasons, the main ones being:
decrease mould complexity and thus production cost (for example to )
decrease plastic quantity used and thus production cost (for example, look at the bottom of several 1 x n bricks — the new ones have hollow tubes)
increase part sturdiness (for example to — honestly, how many of these ...
There are a few on Bricklink, if you search by part colour:
And the standard smiley is also available.
If you search for the older Brown colour (instead of the current Reddish Brown) you find that there are basically ...
The smallest area you can enclose a standing minifig in is just about 4x4x4 2/3 with the roof on:
To reach this limit, you need to use the panels and windows to make room for the arms and more importantly the head, which is larger than a 1x1 brick.
To enclose a seated minifig in the smallest space, you will need to ensure that you've ...
They are referred to as "Minifig Hips" almost everywhere: [partlink:970:4].
The LEGO Pick-a-brick service doesn't sell them without legs, and just refers to the whole construction as "Mini Figure Mini Lower Part":
There are already quite a few multi-armed minifigures. I usually won't count Doctor Octopus as one, though. But I'll count it this time.
The very first minifigure to be able to hold more than 2 tools is Doctor Octopus, from the "Spider-Man" theme from 2003. This was achieved by building a harness that goes on the neck. This version appeared in 3 sets, all ...
Your second guess was correct. It's not just a wrench. It's listed as a Screwdriver/spanner on Lego.com:
This part was also included in several sets in the Games line as a human tool to remove tiles from the dice. It's unclear (at least to me) whether this part was intended to be used for tile removal when it was introduced in 1979. Here's an example from ...
Hand colors other than yellow are generally used to either match skin tone in licensed themes, or to represent some sort of gloves. The police officer you mentioned is probably "wearing" some sort of motorcycle or driving glove:
When minifigs were first introduced in the late 70s, the only ones to have non-yellow hands were the space minifigs:
The well known, smiling, gender-neutral multifigure head can be bought on auction sites like Bricklink.
The classic faces are still in production now and are on the minifig or every set in the modular series. (The Grand Emporium alone has seven of these heads) As well as other modern classics like the carousel, winter toy shop and town plan.
Up to five of ...
One theory I've read online is that this change was made to increase safety in case of choking.
This reason appears in a Gizmodo article:
We added this hole on the top of the head just in case any kids got one of the heads stuck in their throat. That way they would be able to keep breathing.
The article, though formatted as an interview, is a ...
In the old days, minifigures had a dab of paint on the neck. I don't know if it was for this purpose but it would wear off over time. You can paint some nail polish or acrylic on the neck to strengthen that connection. Thin the acrylic (use water based) before applying.
A number of the minifigs from the Adventures theme would fit the bill in terms of round glasses and facial hair, especially the Dr Kilroy character:
They also have versions with suits, etc.
There's also a "Detective" figure in the Minifigures Series 5 with the classic Deer Stalker hat that resembles the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes.
There are also ...
LEGO will replace a part for free on their website, providing it was missing from purchase. Sadly replacement parts aren't available for Collectible Minifigures, but you can contact them to let them know.
Ensure the Minifigure packet has been fully emptied, it's quite easy to lose parts when you open the packet.
I can not give you an answer on behalf of TLG, but I can give you some good reasons as to why Minifigures do not have ears.
Authenticity: Lego figures have never had ears. In fact, the first figures did not even have faces, or articulating limbs. They were very basic. Here is a photo showing the basic evolution of minifigures over the years. The first '...
As a conservative approach I would suggest the LEGO Juniors series which has cars and other sets and that are easy to build.
However, from first hand experience I can tell that kids learn quickly. Even if reading instructions is too difficult, playing with regular LEGO parts will soon be a lot of fun.
Besides : Losing small parts will be an issue with ...
Here is another way to consider it:
Make a fist, and don't bend your wrist. The pinky's side of your hand is mostly aligned with the rest of your wrist and forearm. The thumb's side of your hand is not so much aligned with your wrist and forearm. Also notice that the curve of your fingers tapers toward the pinky finger.
Now compare to the minifigure ...