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A playful visual history of Lego’s tiny people

The Lego minifig just turned 40, but it doesn’t look a day over 15. What is its secret?

While Lego bricks were first introduced to playboxes and living room floors in 1949, the first prototype of what would become mini-figures wasn’t created until 1976, when a few Lego designers wanted to play with plastic humans. According to the Lego Minifigure Year By Year: A Visual History, they filed Lego bricks into human form. A few years and many prototypes later, the modern-day minifig was born.

[Photo: courtesy of Lego]
These days, the little plastic humanoids stand four Lego bricks tall, have movable arms and legs, hands built for holding other Lego, and heads that are, like, totally tubular and completely interchangeable. Since their introduction in 1978, Lego has introduced 8,000 different minifigs, with 650 different faces to choose from.

The minifigs also have a diverse resume, having held a variety of jobs from police officer to pirate, doctor to astronaut, veterinarian to Renn Faire enthusiast (er… knight). They’ve also cosplayed as multitudes of pop-culture characters including Daft Punk, Anchorman‘s Ron Burgundy, Apple Store employees, the Boston Red Sox player, and an International Space Station Alien. Lately, though, their full-time work has been starring in The LEGO Movie and its related franchise, with The LEGO Movie 2 coming out in 2019.

To celebrate 40 years of the little Lego people, check out the video and a few historical photos, or just play with Lego all day at your desk.

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