The Minifigure Factory is a Gift-With-Purchase item that is quite unique in its own right and quite different from the regular promotional items — typically a build-and-display piece or a minifigure in a polybag. This set uses the box itself as part of the play construct. The theme is of a LEGO factory employee inspecting minifigures that roll off the assembly line, celebrating the 40th birthday of the first introduction of Minifigures. Let’s jump right in and take a look at what’s distinctive about this giveaway.
The box and instructions
First up, a look at the exterior of the box. The size of the box itself is quite tiny and not the typical dimensions of LEGO boxed sets. A reference to a typical BrickHeadz box is placed beside it to give you a sense of the scale.
The box consists of an outer sleeve similar to packaging we’ve seen in recent minifigure specials. Sliding the box out from the sleeve reveals a printed design depicting a factory-like entrance with “1978” printed at the top of the door. In case you’re wondering, 1978 is the year that Minifigures were introduced into LEGO play themes, very much in the form that you see them today.
The back view of the box has a couple of printed windows, with a peek into the building showing a couple of employees on what looks like a coffee break, just goofing around. What’s interesting to note is the cutout of a rectangular window and a horizontal cutout just below the window across a large portion of the box.
The interior of this set is quite unique as its part of the play theme. The largest wall that’s printed contains a series of pipes in various colours, and both the left and right side have artefacts which look like things one would decorate within a personal workspace. On the left, tiny bits of decorations show a birthday cake with the 40th year (of celebrating minifigures), a party hat, and a photo of a minifigure displaying a good catch. On the right side of the wall is a poster of the minifigure patent.
Opening up the box is yet another surprise — the typical seals that we see are not present. In its place is a flap which indicates that this feature is meant to be a box that is reused. Once the flaps are down, you see a fully printed interior that’s meant to be the innards of what seems to be a production line.
Contained within is a bag containing 86 elements, and a printed guide and a cutout cardboard piece that features 5 minifigures.
Let’s first take a look at these five featured micro-figures and their minifigure counterparts.
P.I.X.A.L (Primary Interactive X-ternal Assistant Life-form) from Ninjago (2014)
Nurse from Series 1 Collectible Minifigures (2010)
Classic Pirate (1989)
Classic Spaceman (1984)
Classic Policeman (1978)
While the classic pirate, spaceman and policeman are represented, and the nurse to showcase the launch of the Collectible Minifigures series, I failed to decipher any significance of the PIXAL character from Ninjago. Then again, they’re minifigures to celebrate minifigures in history, so that’s all that’s needed! They do have limited space to fully have the exact prints from their Minifigure counterparts, but still I think LEGO did a decent enough paint job on such a tiny element.
This set also comes with a factory employee minifigure. His role seems to be for Quality Assurance, ensuring whatever comes off the assembly line is up to LEGO’s high standards. The factory worker sports a yellow company outfit and a back print of the LEGO Logo.
What felt a little out of place was the use of the dreaded Kragle (aka Superglue) that seemed to contradict what’s on page 1 of the instruction book: The supposedly floating 12 x 6 grey plate is mounted permanently into the corner of the factory box. This actually makes building the elements on top of it a little challenge as you start to place the bricks and apply pressure to lock them into place.
Thankfully there are not many elements to be placed. You do have to hold the box in your hands and carefully apply pressure underneath the box to secure the parts.
The next build is a tiny trolly transporter that’s pretty much standalone. While it’s cute, the item really seems out of place.
The assembly line is the interesting bit that works together with the base factory floor. It has a tank of sorts and a green/red button likely to signify a start / stop toggle for an assembly line setup. It’s a quick build on the side and to be placed on the floor mounted plate that’s glued to the box.
The final step is to flip the box over to slide in the cardboard cutout piece and secure them with two technic pins.
The finished build and playablity
The unique integration of the outer box and the assembly line is pretty nifty. Sliding it from one side to another will reveal the minifigure in the cardboard window cutout in perfect sync with the microfigure that the LEGO employee is inspecting with his magnifying glass. While this isn’t that big of a deal, if you push it all the way to the other end, a slight design defect does not allow the Ninjago PIXAL character to be fully revealed.
Conclusions and recommendation
Though it’s pretty simple and not exactly the typical playset one would expect, I do think it’s a well thought out design and a cool piece of memorabilia in celebration of the introduction of minifigures 40 years ago. Overall, it is an interesting concept that uses everything on hand with a stowaway flap to seal it back for storage. LEGO is known for its great design on exterior box art that frequently gets discarded eventually, and this approach is quite a good concept of having actually keep boxes for a reason for play or even for a nice collectable on the side.
The LEGO Minifigure Factory Set (item 5005358) offer is valid at the LEGO Shop from April 1 through 11:59pm EST, April 20, 2018 or while supplies last. Qualifying purchase must be equal to or greater than $75 in merchandise only.