At RLFM Days 2021, an exclusive event for LEGO Ambassadors that gives us unprecedented access to interact and chat with LEGO Designers, I had the incredibly opportunity to participate in a quick interview with the LEGO Minifigures team.
We spoke to Creative Lead, Astrid Graabæk and Graphics Designer Mark Tranter, on the LEGO Minifigures theme as a whole, but was also surprised as they gave us an exclusive sneak peek at 6 minifigures from the upcoming LEGO Minifigures theme in September – which has now officially been revealed as the Marvel Studios series.
I can’t officially reveal it until the embargo has lifted but suffice to say, it’ll make a lot of people very happy. Until then please enjoy some of the more general questions that we spoke about.
Check out more LEGO Interviews from RLFM Days below:
- Answered: Can LEGO sell Star Wars Minifigures on their own? (RLFM Days 2021 – Star Wars Interview)
- A masterstroke of design – LEGO Typewriter Designers Q&A (RLFM Days 2021)
- Missed out on Bricklink Designer Program? The sets were limited by design (RLFM Days 2021)
About Astrid Graabæk
Astrid has been the Creative Lead for this year’s Minifigure Series launches, and is Danish, with a background as a trained architect and designer. For the last 10 years, she’s been with LEGO, and she’s been in a variety of projects, from 4+ to 18+ and now minifigures.
About Mark Tranter
Mark’s a graphic designer, and has been with The LEGO Group for 5 years. He’s been involved in projects, and Minifigures is by far the best.
What is the LEGO Minifigures theme all about?
Astrid: We design both for kids and adults in this theme. We look at what kids from five year olds and up find exciting, that also sparks their imagination and trigger play for them.
At the same time, we also look at what is exciting for adults, and especially AFOLs. Are there new elements, character choices, or colour changes we think would be exciting.
We launch three times a year and it’s a variety of classic launches (numbered series) and also these external IP (intellectual property) such as Looney Tunes which is the current one out now.
when we do our classic launches, we try to do it as a character-rich as possible when it comes to, you know, diversity with gender and age but also exploring themes and stories like sci-fi, fantasy, costumes and everyday life so there’s something for everyone.
LEGO Minifigures has been a gateway into LEGO for many fans and we’ve seen such a huge evolution from Series 1 to where we are today with different. What has been the biggest shift that you guys have seen so far within the LEGO Minifigures theme?
Astrid: As you say, it’s an evolution. I’m the 3rd Creative Lead so far on the theme, and we work with different graphic designers each time.
It’s a theme that is constantly changing. If anything the biggest shift, was the opportunity to introduce external IP to the series (such as Looney Tunes).
Another big change I can think of is the reduced box size and character amount (from 16 to 12), which was done to reach more people.
Has there been any unexpected challenges of this switch from 16 to 12 characters for LEGO Minifigures?
Astrid: More the opposite, I would say we have accomplished a broader reach. We received positive feedback from it, and we had a little bump (in sales performance).
It’s been really interesting to see advancements in moulding techniques for minifigures, with recent Series (like Looney Tunes). How was that made possible?
Astrid: e got to have a lot of input into the elements and it was a lot of hard work, but also a lot of excitement around the characters.
We placed a lot of emphasis on getting these the shapes right. So we have the right balance of LEGO DNA and getting the Looney Tunes character look right. I think we got that split right so to say.
Is there a connection to the number of the series, and the year they’re released? Also, how does the LEGO Minifigures team choose the colour for each series?
Astrid: Actually, the number of the series and the year, that’s purely a coincidence!
For the colour, we look at a few things, such as when what we’ve used preciously, and also whether we should do something new and fresh.
But it’s also looking at the characters for each series. For example, if we have a lot of red in the minifigures, then we’ll choose a colour where these characters stand out the most.
We try to pick the colours and the background colour that emphasizes each individual character.
What’s the biggest challenge with working on a core series where you can be a bit more free with your designs compared to, say a licensed minifigure series?
You often, I guess, looking at a very early concept, art pieces and storyboards for media that doesn’t exist yet. . When you guys get briefed on the project, what’s what’s it like?
Mark: I imagine it’s very liberating, but I actually haven’t worked on core minifigure series, so I can’t really compare.
But I have worked on other projects that have not been IP and it is good when you can just sit down and brainstorm new designs.
But I also do like working from reference as well. So I mean, the two are very different, but I can’t really compare.
Astrid: We finally get to we normally get references, where there’s a costume fitting images, concept sketches. Sometimes previously, we get a sneak peek into movies, which is exciting, but you get a lot of spoilers.
LEGO Minifigures has seen characters pop up from Classic Themes like Blacktron and Space Police recently. Do you link up with other themes to sneak characters in, and if you do, can we get some Ice Planet?
Astrid: I will note that down
Mark: One hundred percent. Entirely my decision, but I’m going to say yes.
Astrid: Of course we can’t reveal what the future brings as we know what the future brings, but of course we are always considering how we can tie in to themes from the 70s and 80s but exactly how and when is not something we know yet.
We do consider they can tie in to tie in to themes like Classic ? But supported projects like that in space and so forth from the 70s and 80s, but exactly how and when is not something we don’t fully appreciate.
Can we get koalas or kangaroo animal costume minifigures in the future.
Astrid: All I can say is that there will be more animals in the future.
Astrid, you’re an architect by training and you’ve worked on some of the most iconic modular sets, like the Town Hall and Palace Cinema. What was the transition like working on those and then transitioning to the Creative Lead of Minifigures?
Astrid: I went from 18+ models and had a period with 4+ models and then minifigures, so the transition wasn’t a quick one.
The development process and the mindset is very much the same, but of course it comes with other challenges when you are down to tiny details on a character to make it as unique as possible, and on the other side it’s about big builds, which is more about aesthetics and design.
The transition happened over such a long time that I didn’t really feel a big change.
What’s your favourite minifigure from the entire LEGO Minifigure series since Series One?
Mark: Ones that come to mind for me is the costume series, but the characters that were dressed as LEGO bricks, I think that’s a fantastic idea.
Astrid: Corn Suit Guy!
Thanks so much for reading! To be the first to know about when the new LEGO Minifigures Series is announced, be sure to subscribe and follow for all the latest news! Once the new September Minifigure Series has been revealed, I’ll also be able to share some of the Q&A questions that I’m sworn to secrecy to!
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Check out more LEGO Interviews from RLFM Days below:
“they gave us an exclusive sneak peek at 6 minifigures from the upcoming LEGO Minifigures theme in September”
What?! This is not the marvel series but something else?
Oh sorry, this was meant to be a reference of the Marvel series. I couldn’t reveal that it was the Marvel series before the official announcement 🙂
Karen Minto says
Seventy-four YO addicted since advent of 4 YO grandson. Have built Tree House, Pirate Ship, and most recently Sesame Street. Love them all and so admire the engineering that goes into each one!