Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Thoughts on the Lego Movie Minifigures

Well, the new series of Lego Minifigures is out, and it’s directly tied to the forthcoming movie (yes, it’s out already overseas, I know…). I’ve picked up five so far, and will possibly get a couple more. Let’s kick it off!

The ones I’ve bought

Emmet's regular face
Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt) is the main character of the film. Apparently an ordinary minifigure who’s mistaken for a Master Builder (what this entails will presumably be revealed in the film), he's dressed in construction gear, and would easily fit in with a construction or mining related set from City. His standard face is him with a big goofy smile that’s quite reminiscent of the 1980s-1990s minifigure faces, before they started getting a little more sophisticated in their printing technique. I’d wager this resemblance is entirely intentional. His alternate face depicts him with his eyes shut and laughing…unfortunately it has the effect of making him look like a slightly racist anime caricature. Emmet also comes with an Octan pamphlet or magazine. It depicts a minifigure being eaten by a Lego shark, which gave me a giggle.

Emmet is easy to get mixed up with the Bad Cop/Good Cop, as their accessories both feel quite familiar. So you’re best to check for the absence of a set of soft handcuffs in the bag, once you’ve found a helmet and magazine/phone tile.

Wyldstyle (voiced by Elizabeth Banks) seems to be wearing a goth-style outfit [edit: apparently it’s Wild West-themed] – a corset and skirt, different to the skater-girl style that she’s been seen wearing in promotional material prior to now. She also comes with the same folding fan that the Kimono Girl (series 4) and the Flamenco Dancer (series 6). She’s neither here nor there as a figure, but I picked her up as she is one of the main characters. Given her seemingly intentionally “edgy” design, she’ll either be quite endearing or incredibly annoying. Time will tell, but I generally like Elizabeth Banks so I’m hoping for good things.  

Good Cop/Bad Cop (voiced by Liam Neeson) seems to be one of the most readily available characters in the range. For the most part, he’s a standard looking highway patrolman, who’d look right at home in the City theme. However, turn his face around and you’ll find that a crudely drawn smiley face has been drawn on the back of his head – just like a child would draw. Presumably this will be explained at some point during the film itself. Though I’m sure it’s meant to be cutesy, it actually reminds me of the promotional artwork for The Dark Knight, which was styled to look as though the Joker had scrawled all over it. It's a little creepy.
Regular, cool cop face

He comes with a set of handcuffs, and a mobile phone styled to look like an iPhone. Intentional or not, this is a nice reference to Neeson’s character in the Taken series.
Disturbing nightmare face

Velma Staplebot is not really my sort of figure, though the parts could well be useful for creating some sort of office manager in a City setting. I actually thought she was Emmet when I was checking the bags, otherwise I probably would have passed on her. She comes with a clipboard which notes something about “Taco Tuesday”…I assume this will become clear in the film.

Panda Guy is a cool concept, and one of the characters I was most excited for. But he has some sloppy paint apps on his headpiece and matching panda baby (teddy?) that undermine my enjoyment a little. Combine this with the lower-quality leg pieces they’ve been using in some of the minifigures series and I’m no longer so thrilled. Granted, I may feel differently after I see the film.

The Others

Calamity Drone ranks as my least favourite of the series…I don’t really want a robot woman from the Old West.
Gail the Construction Worker looks cool, and according to Brickipedia has the distinction of being the first female minifigure in a construction uniform. I suspect she’ll be endearing in the film too.

“Where Are My Pants?” Guy looks pretty funny. But I suspect his main value will be in his Hawaiian shirt piece...combine him the head of Frank Rock from Monster Fighters, and you have Bruce Campbell’s character from Burn Notice.  
President Business (voiced by Will Ferrell) is the big bad of The Lego Movie. Apparently he’s trying to undermine the world of Lego by gluing all the pieces of the Lego world together. As a minifigure, he’s a little so-so to look at, but his square headpiece is interesting. Though I’m not really fussed on him, I may pick him up anyway – seems like it makes sense to have a figure of the lead villain. He comes with an Octan coffee cup.

Wiley Fusebot is bizarre, resembling a robot Davy Crockett. I like the idea of a regular Davy Crockett minifigure, and this guy would let you make one quite easily.  So I may yet get one – but this is one that I’ll probably need to see in action in the film first.
Abraham Lincoln is apparently one of the Master Builders in the film. He looks cool, but I just can’t quite commit to buy. I’m sure he’ll be popular in America, though. I feel similarly about William Shakespeare – he’ll be big in the UK, no doubt, and lots of English teachers will probably have this guy on their staffroom desk.   

Marsha, Queen of the Mermaids – we’ve already had a mermaid reasonably recently, but this one is a bit distinct from the one in series 8, thanks to different colouring. This colouration makes her look like Mermaid Barbie or something – cool for my wife, not so much for me.
Taco Tuesday Guy veers into slightly racially insensitive territory again, similar to the Island Warrior in Series 11, but he’s quite entertaining. However, I already have the Maraca Man from series 2, so I’ll pass.

Mrs. Scratchen-Post is sort of amusing as a cat lady, but I think she followed too soon after the Grandma from series 11. I’ll pass.
Larry the Barista will fit well into a City collection. But I don't know where he'd fit in my collection, so it's a no for the time being.  

The Verdict
Now, why don’t I think I’ll collect the set? Well, there’s a lot of familiar ground trodden over from previous series – particularly with a cat lady and mermaid both seeing release relatively recently. There are no direct repeats, but the stuff I like I already have, and the stuff I don’t I didn’t want anyway.

To be fair, a lot of the repeated stuff is probably because the movie will introduce a whole new group of fans to minifigure collecting. It is good that newcomers will have access to lookalikes of some of the earlier characters – if they do this in future series, hopefully I’ll be able to get hold of a series 1-esque Ninja – but for the moment I’m happy to sit it out. Granted, this may change after I see the movie and get to know some of the characters. The Lego Movie is on my must-see list for 2014!  

Overall verdict? Cool for new collectors, but less so for those of us who have been collecting minifigures for a bit longer.

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