For the first 43 years of its history, the Lego company did not make any figures. Trains had no passengers, businesses no customers, houses no residents. That all changed in 1975, when the first minifigures were manufactured. These yellow figures were armless and faceless, more like pegs with hair (or hats) attached than anthropomorphic figurines.
After three years, the company got the good sense to redesign the figures with moveable legs, smiley faces, and the classic, C-shaped hands we all know and love. This basic design has remained unchanged in the four decades since. What has changed is the variety available in minifigures. Simple smiley faces have given way to more nuanced facial expressions. Painted-on costumes have been augmented with detachable accessories. Kick ass facial hair is a regular sight.
Another great leap forward in minifigure design came in 2010 when Lego spun off minifigures into their own product line. Instead of only being included with Lego sets (and thus bound to the themes of said sets), the characters were now designed and released as curated collections of 16 figures. Since then, there have been 18 regular minifigure sets (and 9 themed minifigure sets). These sets are limited edition and thus hard to come by, but you can buy solo figures to add some character to your curated collection. Here, then, are 15 of our favorites. Originally available only in sealed bags (so you couldn’t see which one you were getting), specific minifigures are now available on Amazon for those with particular tastes. Note that some of the selections are a bit costly, as they’re rare finds. But man, are they cool.
Lego Brick Suit Girl
Let’s get meta. You, the Lego fan, can now purchase a minifigure of a Lego fan who has dressed up as a Lego fan for a party. It’s like a Charlie Kaufman screenplay contained in a two-inch toy.
Perhaps ’80s Yuppie would be a more accurate name for this minifigure, whose rolled-up blazer sleeves and Zach Morrisian cell phone are hallmarks of the Wall Street decade. If there’s a bigger jerk of a minifigure, we haven’t found it.
Corn Cob Guy
Now here’s an accurately named toy. Corn cob guy is a guy wearing a corn cob suit. Just keep him away from a heat source unless you want him to really pop off.
Look at this glorious ‘stache! It’s this characters most notable feature, but it wouldn’t work without the thick eyebrows and single-shouldered leopard-print leotard. The included barbell means this guy can stay swole in between Vaudeville performances.
Every town in the Wild West needs a wide-eyed, unshaven prospector. It’s a miracle that this guy, with his suspenders, pickaxe, and well-worn hat, wasn’t included in one of the 20 previously released western sets. He and Gus Chuggins should get together.
Mexican Mariachi Maraca Man
The maracas are sadly not functional, but the green sombrero and intricately patterned poncho more than make up for it. Add a guitarist and you’ve got the beginnings of a great mariachi band.
With his squirrel cap, plaid shirt, and multi-day beard stubble, this is the minifigure from series 5 most likely to have an axe-throwing setup in his backyard.
The affable smile, full pot o’ gold, and buckled top hat let you know this is the good kind of leprechaun, not the scary one from the horror movie series.
In the grand tradition of making fun of the French, this minifigure includes nearly every stereotype we have of our Gallic allies: baguette, French bulldog, beret, mustache, Breton shirt, and neck scarf. The only things missing: a lit cigarette and a palpable sense of ennui.
Banana Guy Suit
The sunglasses and grin let you know that this guy isn’t just a guy in a banana suit but a cool guy in a banana suit.
This guy is shorter than a typical minifigure, so you’re not getting a great deal in terms of dollars per inch. But what he lacks in stature he makes up for in whimsy and appeal to the Sherlock Gnomes fan in your life.
It’s only fair that, after capturing the stereotypical Frenchman, Lego would also take on a quintessential British character: the imperial explorer. His khaki outfit and pith helmet are nice touches, but the pièce de résistance is the painted-on monocle, a true symbol of Britishness if we’ve ever seen one.
The pink mohawk. The sleeveless skull vest. The flying V guitar. The stitched jeans. This minifigure rocks. Hard. Bonus points if you can draw some intricate punk rock tattoos on this guy’s exposed biceps.
Hot Dog Guy
Is the yellow streak because he wants his costume to match his skin tone? Or does this large hotdog man hate ketchup? Whatever the answer, he belongs in whatever Lego setup awaits in your basement.