Did you know that 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of the modern minifigure? In recognition of this very special birthday, the LEGO Group released its party-themed Series 18 minifigures a few months ago, including a remake of the 1978 policeman. The LEGO Group continues to celebrate, this time by reaching into their archives to share some historic images with our readers. Here at The Brothers Brick, we love minifigures and are excited to share the images and history behind the LEGO Group’s versatile and lovable characters.
A system is born, and so is a police officer:
In the post-World War II economy, the LEGO Group began shifting its priorities in toy manufacturing. While the foundation of LEGO rested on wooden toys, Ole Kirk Christiansen saw a future in plastics and purchased the company’s first plastic injection molding machine in 1947. It was with this equipment that the LEGO group first began producing its Automatic Binding Bricks in 1949. These hollow-bottomed bricks were the forerunner of the modern LEGO brick.
LEGO’s earliest sets were fairly basic construction toys, and characters were never packaged with the sets. This changed after Ole’s son, Godtfred, introduced the System of Play series in 1955. “System of Play” referred to the versatility of LEGO bricks to be used by themselves and with a child’s existing toys. LEGO advertised the toy as the perfect companion for dolls and HO (1:87) scale toy trains. LEGO created the Town Plan series, which is populated by brick-built buildings and prefabricated vehicles, to serve in part as an add-on for model railroading.
It was also during this time that LEGO introduced the great-great grandfather of the minifigure, a set of four tiny police officers. The figures were posed in four different positions, designed so they could direct traffic throughout the intersections of the Town Plan. Resembling HO-scale figures, they did not have moving limbs or recessed indentations for connecting to studs but were nevertheless LEGO’s first people manufactured for the System of Play.