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LEGO Minifigure Turns 30

LEGO: Jay Cochran - 2008.08.25
A global pop culture icon turned 30 today and is celebrating a list of accomplishments and adventures that would overwhelm and astonish any self-described overachiever.

The LEGO(R) minifigure was first manufactured and packed into a LEGO set the morning of August 25, 1978. Children of all ages and LEGO employees around the world today commemorated the milestone by kicking off Go Miniman Go!, a movement that aims to inspire generations of LEGO children to reconnect with the adventures their minifigures enabled them to live through creative, constructive LEGO play.

Online video, contests, downloads, news, games and more encourage fans to rekindle the joy and adventure the minifigure represented when they were young. The online celebration is happening now at http://www.gominimango.com/.

"I'm sure plenty of people who see all the places I've been and things I've done probably wonder when I'll slow down; but I feel as if the adventure is just beginning," said the LEGO minifigure. "I can go anywhere I dream of going, and thanks to generations of children and their imaginations, I have been able to live my dreams in a fun, playful and fearless way. I'm ready to go wherever the world's creative builders decide to take me next!"

Interesting facts about the minifigure include:

-- Minifigures represent the world's largest population, more than 4 billion people strong, making it 3 times larger than China, 12 times larger than the United States and 120 times larger than Canada.

-- Globally, 3.9 minifigures are sold per second, 365 days per year. That's an average of over 122 million per year!

-- There are more than 8 quadrillion (8,181,068,395,500,000) possible combinations of minifigures that can be made using all of the unique parts over the last 30 years.

-- Film stars and comic heroes started to appear as minifigures in 1998 with LEGO Star Wars(TM); only two real people have been represented in minifigure form multiple times (Answer found on http://www.gominimango.com/)

-- The standard minifigure is four LEGO bricks tall and has just over 970 degrees of movement.

Join the Party

Fans will find several different ways to participate in the fun by visiting http://www.gominimango.com/. The blog will feature regular news updates, stories and fan created content. A celebration video depicts the versatility and fun of minifigures throughout some of the most important historic and pop culture moments of the last 30 years. An interactive timeline features minifigures through the decades and vintage TV commercials featuring the minifigure add to the nostalgia.

Those who want to go further will find information on a Gizmodo challenge to create personal Go Miniman Go! videos and a photo contest sponsored by LEGO enthusiasts, an invitation to submit posts for the blog, and games featuring the minifigure. An iGoogle theme, the ability to download any blog picture as desktop wallpaper and information on a variety of minifigure-themed merchandise, like vintage t-shirts, provide ways for fans to take the celebration home. Additional activities will be added as the year progresses.

LEGO Stores across the country today offer ways to join the birthday party, and LEGOLAND(R) California will screen the celebration video in all film attractions and offer merchandise in its Big Shop.

"The minifigure is one of the most important designs in LEGO Group history, second only to the LEGO brick, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in January," said Jette Orduna, manager of the LEGO Group archives. "For 30 years, the figures have embodied the creative hopes and dreams of children as they explore their imaginations through LEGO play, and for some, remain the 'face' of their memories of the LEGO brand. It's often said 'Life begins at 30', so we look forward to seeing where the world's children of all ages take the minifigure next through building and play."

A Legend is Born

In 1973, Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, son of the company founder, challenged designers to add a new dimension of play to the LEGO building experience, leading to the first LEGO figures - a family created from a combination of LEGO bricks and special elements to build people. A smaller figure, a simple head on an unmoving body, was introduced in 1975. Godtfred's son, Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, introduced play themes to the LEGO System of building toys, signaling a need for a more realistic, moving figure that had more role play ability for children. Sketch after sketch led to the design of nearly 50 different prototypes and crude models before company executives chose the contemporary minifigure. A patent was filed in 1977, and the first minifigures were manufactured and put into sets for the world to enjoy -- in time for the holiday season of 1978 -- in the Town, Space and Castle themes.

The very first minifigure was a police officer, followed by a fireman, a nurse, astronauts, medieval knights, a gas station attendant and a construction worker. In its history, the minifigure has also been -- among other things -- a pirate, chef, deep sea diver, cowboy, race car driver, nurse, doctor, mail carrier, secret agent, superhero, athlete, princess, firefighter, movie star, scientist, archaeologist, paleontologist, mechanic and time traveler. Of all of the minifigure's roles, the police officer is most popular, with 41 different versions appearing in 104 sets over the last 30 years.

The LEGO Group (http://www.lego.com/) is a privately held, family-owned company, based in Billund, Denmark. It was founded in 1932 and today the group is one of the world's leading manufacturers of play materials for children, employing approximately 4,500 people globally. The LEGO Group is committed to the development of children's creative and imaginative abilities through its products, which can be purchased in more than 130 countries.

LEGO, the LEGO logo and the minifigure are trademarks of the LEGO Group. (C)2008 The LEGO Group.

STAR WARS is a registered trademark of Lucasfilm Ltd. (C)2008 Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved

Source: LEGO Systems, Inc.

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