LEGO minifigures are beloved by children and adults alike, and the process of creating one is both complex and fascinating.
From the initial brainstorming session to the final touches on the assembly line, it's a team effort to bring these plastic characters to life.
Brief Minifigure History
Minifigures were first introduced in 1978 and were initially one solid color with no printed details. Today, they are known for their full-color printing and expressive facial features.
When the LEGO design team begins work on a new play theme, they hold a "Design Boost" brainstorming session to come up with ideas for models and Minifigures.
If a set requires one or more new Minifigures, the character design process begins.
The design team starts with a blank minifigure template and adds details such as colors, personality, and accessories.
They may visit a fire station or study historical armor for research and use clay or 3D software to design new elements. Graphic designers create maps of the minifigure's face and body details, and a Model Committee approves the completed design before it is approved for production.
Minifigures are made from acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic granules that are melted and pressed into shape in metal molding machines.
Assembly machines attach the legs, arms, and torsos, and decorating machines print on the minifigure's face and clothing. The finished Minifigure is then ready to be shipped and sold.
The Process Begins
The process of creating a minifigure starts with the iconic yellow stud heads, which are detailed with various facial features at pad printing stations. This includes printing on the eyes, eyebrows, and mouth, as well as applying stickers for the irises and pupils.
The heads are then assembled with the bodies, which are made in a variety of colors using the injection molding process.
Adding the Finishing Touches
After the bodies and heads are assembled, the Minifigures are given their final touches, such as printing on clothing and accessories. They are then inspected for quality and packed into boxes to be shipped to stores around the world.
Creating a LEGO Minifigure is a lengthy and intricate process that involves a team of designers, sculptors, graphic artists, and manufacturing machines. From the initial brainstorming session to the final touches on the assembly line, it's a true collaboration to bring these beloved plastic characters to life.