Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Top 10 Collectible Lego Minifigures

Check out the new, updated list: Top 35 Collectible Minifigures! 

It's been an awesome ride so far. Series 7 is out already and more are planned. The collectible, "blind-packed" minifigures from Lego is one of the coolest toy lines today. Seeing as we currently have over hundred different minifigures, a top 10 list is more than appropriate.

Unlike the 100 best G.I. Joe figures, which you can take for gospel, I have to admit that this list will be very  subjective.
I would love to hear your opinions, so leave a comment below with which minifigures you like best, and how your list would look like!

Read on for the ten best collectible Lego minifigures!

But be warned, the list doesn't start right away.. Scroll down a bit if you just want to see the list.

The minifigure. 
Such an amazing concept. Ever since the first was made sometime in the late 70s, they have been an integral part of almost every Lego set. In the very beginning they didn't have any movable parts, and looked more like plastic chess pieces. The minifigures as we know it - with moving limbs and smiling faces - were first character-less, single-color figures, like the standard Lego man to the left here. Or is it a Lego woman? No way to tell. But after a short while, we got decos on the figures, they came with uniforms and clothes painted on, and very soon they came with accessories like hats and tools.
The space minifigures are absolute classics in the world of toys, and any guy aged 30-40 should recognize the Lego space symbol featured on most of the Lego dudes in the 80s and early 90s. It's an absolute delight to see this symbol being featured on the space figures from the collectible line.

No doubt about it, the minifigures enhanced the building sets greatly! Below are a few of my favorites.

But they have also taken a life of their own, outside the sets. AFOLs (adult fans of Lego) are buying the Star Wars sets for the minifigures, kids are going nuts over the Ninjago figures, and of course as the subject of this list, the intensely popular collectible minifigures.

Over the years, we've seen an amazing selection of colorful minifigures, both from Lego's own concepts, and through the licensed sets. And while it would be a pleasure to make a list of the best minifigures, regardless of theme, the very concept of the collectible minifigures - and the fact that I own most of them - makes it just that much simple to make this list.

The collectible minifigures are blindpacked single figures with accessories. It is possible to identify them without opening them through markings on the packs, but it has become increasingly harder. There are seven series consisting of 16 figures each, all with a color code (series 1 had yellow packs, series 7 has deep red packaging). Each series come with its own checklist, where you can cross out the various characters you're getting. The idea is that that the characters are extremely diverse, and while some of them are as expected (ninjas, robots), some of them are really far out there (cave girl, it-guy).
I can imagine some of these being incredibly lame in a kids mind, which is also why I think these are just as relevant for the adult collector.

I'm really impressed by the wide range of characters we're getting. Sure, they have repeated themselves, specially by making one for each gender (vikings, tennis players, surfers, snowboarders, punk rockers, etc..), there are also a few updates (alien, skateboarder), but it's still really cool to see so many colorful and creative choices for characters.

Just take a look:
We've seen figures with an ocean theme...

We've seen characters of a historical theme...

The monsters are cute.

Musicians and other artists.

I love the space characters.

I even had luck and found four space dudes from the first series. Notice the vintage space Lego symbol on their chests.

And of course, the cultural stereotypes.

We also have the sports theme greatly represented with various martial arts, team sports and individual athletes. There are the more normal workers, like the butcher, mechanic, nurse, police officer. In essence there is at least a minifigure for everyone's taste.
Still, there's sort of a consensus among the collectors which figures are attractive, and not all of them ended up on my list. That's not saying I don't like them, it's just that I only had room for ten.
Here are some of the most popular minifigures, for what should be obvious reasons.

I guess you could call these runner-ups. I'm particularly a fan of the punk rocker. The elf is extremely detailed and comes with awesome accessories. The spartan should have had the bare chested torso we saw on the surfer, but is otherwise a great figure. But, like I said, only room for ten, and after much consideration, I ended up with the following selection of minifigures.

And here we go with the list. Here are my top 10 collectible Lego minifigures!

10: Indian - series 1

The first figure on the first checklist. I like the smile on this one. It looks to be a young tribe member, based on the feathers - which can be placed either on top of the head, or back in the head band. Detailed prints on the torso and the pants - but also the "belt" part, which is nice. I got very nostalgic over this one, as it comes with the vintage bow and quiver, exactly like those that came with the figures from the 80s.
There's definitely an understated quality over the Indian. I can totally understand why some would prefer the Indian Chief over this one, just based on the amount of details in the print and the size of his headgear. But for me, the Indian hit the top 10.

9: Mexican - series 2

Deliciously stereotypical or borderline racist? You tell me. At the core, the figure itself has no printed details, but the poncho, hat, maracas and uh.. mustache makes this figure what it is. The hat may be vulgar, but I find it fantastic. Look at the size. And look how happy he is swinging his maracas. Ideally he should have come with a guitar, which would probably have landed him in the top 5. Still a fantastic figure. And the figures with capes and such always appealed to me.

8: Gnome - series 4

I'm not sure what's going on here, but I think I like it. The stumpy, short legs are just too cute. Look how small he is! And he's fishing! He's fishing for compliments. Here's one: You cute little gnome, here's a spot in the top ten list!

7: Luchador - series 1

Who would have expected the luchador to be in the very first series? That's so random! And so awesome! He's totally ready for high flying acrobatics and hilariously staged fights. He's so confident, he's wearing his championship belt into the ring. He may shed his cape during the fight, but the mask stays.
Nephew calls him "the superhero". I can see that. The lucha libre thing isn't that well known over here, specially not with the kids.

6: Gladiator - series 6

TLG (The Lego Group) knocked it out of the park with the Gladiator. One would have expected the gladiator to be in the mix earlier than series 6, but when we first got him, he was more than we could have hoped for. Fantastic prints on torso and pants. An angry and intense face. A cool, roman short sword and quite possibly the coolest sculpted helmet from Lego. The bronze color of the helmet is surprisingly shiny, as is the print on his arm, picturing the scale armor. No print on the shield though, which is a bit of a let down. 

5: Aztec - series 7

I had planned on having a warrior on the list, and we have seen many great ones. I like them all. The centurion, the berserker, the samurai, the viking, the spartan and the hockey player. But when I opened the Aztec from the latest series, I was blown away. 

Everything is monumental with this one. Amazing print all over - stern face, feathered, bejeweled and muscled torso, ceremonial shield, and the head...thing. Yeah I don't know what it's supposed to be. A helmet maybe? I'm impressed at least.
The Aztec stands out in series 7, but the black knight (complete with a Monty Python reference: warthog symbol on his shield is identical to the chest symbol of MP's Black Knight) is worth mentioning, as is the bad ass space dude, the man in bunny costume and the "geek".

4: Geisha - series 4

A conundrum. Why is this on the list, when I'm not really sold on the way TLG does women's dresses? 

Because for once, it actually works. The stiff posture of the Japanese geisha is mirrored perfectly with the immobile, sloped brick. The prints are fantastic on the geisha, she even has flowers in her hair. She's very pretty and a bit mysterious!
One of three figures from series 4 to make the list. Not surprising, as series 4 was incredible. you've seen the gnome, I mentioned the hockey player. You also have the mad scientist, the musketeer, the punk rocker, the viking, the surfer girl. Easily the best series over all, so far anyway.

3: Mummy - series 3

Out of all the monsters, the mummy is my definite favorite. The werewolf, Frankenstein's monster, the zombie. They are all decent, but the mummy stands out for me. The mummy was featured in a mix of very strong figures in the third series. The samurai, the hula girl, the baseball player (who plays for the hilariously named "Clutchers"), the elven warrior, the old fisherman. All amazing figures. But the mummy is my favorite. First of all, he's covered in prints. And I'm glad they did it this way, because out of all the characters, the mummy should be draped all over his body. 

As you can see, he has prints not only on the side of his legs and arms, but also on the back. This is rare in Lego. We have seen it more and more in the licensed sets, but they are also that 25% more expensive than regular Lego sets. Print on the back of his head would have made the mummy a contender for the top spot.
But the prints aren't the only reason he makes the list. It's the scorpion. Lego has the ability to make any minifigure cute. And where they could have gone the easy route and just given the mummy a smile, they instead opted to give him a ridiculously over-sized accessory - that only barely makes sense. The giant scorpion, and the way he's holding it makes him cute.

2: Dracula - series 2

Sharp fangs, sharp suit, intense stare, white gloves or maybe lack of blood? I'm not sure if it's meant to be Dracula, but I call him that. The cape is fantastic, and actually a bit difficult to put on the figure. Comes with a pet bat, or maybe it's a placeholder for when Dracula turns into a bat himself? With the relatively fresh theme Monster Hunters - which I already have blogged about twice - Dracula is as relevant as ever. A fantastic minifigure, and the star of the second series. 

1: Hazmat - Series 4

Only Lego could make something this serious into a cute minifigure. One could assume this was actually the husband of entry #4, to make it even more apparent. Regardless of the nature of his work, the hazardous materials handler is by a solid margin my favorite. Not only is he incredibly cute, he's also extremely well made. First of all, the anti-toxic gun, or what ever it is, hooks into the back, just like an actual action figure. Then there's the plastic visor in the incredibly well-sculpted, removable helmet, just like an actual action figure.

Essentially, this is the first minifigure that has successfully bridged the gap between my interest for Lego and action figures.

That's my top ten collectible Lego minifigures. I've made yet another list since this was written: The Top 35 Minifigures. Go check it out! And feel free to leave comments with your lists!


max said...

Its an awesome collection. I am trying to complete all series also. To complete serie 1-4 is the hardest. I use this site to exchange my duplicates with others. works quite ok

Ryan said...

Very well collected. I was already too late to collect. Very nice! :D