If I say the word “Lego,” odds are the first words that cross your mind will be “bricks”, “studs”, or “little yellow people.”
It’s those last ones that drive a lot of Lego enthusiasts, myself included. Being able to build any world your imagination can dream of is great, but even the most fantastic creations are a little bit lonely without those tiny, ever-smiling faces to populate them.
Fortunately, the Lego Group has been happy to produce all of the itty-bitty blocky denizens that your average man-child god-king could ask for. We’ve been provided an endless supply of pirates, spacemen, explorers, warriors, ninjas, cowboys, race car drivers, and the odd fish monster or two. If you can think of a genre, Lego has that **** covered and then some.
Of course, in recent years they’ve started to slip real people in under the radar too.
Now, hold up. I see the look you’re giving me. It’s that look that says, “Um…they’ve been doing real people for years now, you dummy. Lego started doing licensed properties over a decade ago!”
And to you I say, “Yes comma but…that’s not what we’re here to talk about today. Today we’re going to discuss the Minifigure Theme.”
(“Minifigure,” by the way, is the technical term for “Lego person.” And by that I mean the tiny plastic kind, not the five-to-six-foot-tall fleshy ones who actually get paid by or are obsessed with Lego themselves.)
You see, back in 2010 Lego combined the incredibly evil concept of blind-bagged collectibles with their incredibly popular minifigures. Each series was designed to help flesh out the many worlds you could build with your regular Lego sets and your own creativity. Over the course of fourteen waves, Lego has released everything from a delicatessen butcher to a Gypsy fortune-teller to a Yeti to a girl in a unicorn costume.
Counted among the two hundred-plus characters released so far are a number of minifigures that are…shall we say…suspiciously familiar? They may even be, dare I say, deliberate homages to certain real world people and the characters they’ve portrayed?
Don’t believe me? Read on!
1) The Trendsetter
If you’ve always wanted to build a Lego version of Beverly Hills, congratulations are in order! You can now populate your high-priced Lego urban palaces with The Trendsetter. Of course, you may know her by her other name – Paris Hilton.
Sporting a smile that manages to be both vapid and smug, this minifig socialite princess is the talk of Lego City in a designer outfit and sunglasses that probably cost more gold Lego coins than most minifigures make in a month. Naturally, she splits her time between tweeting her BFF’s on her Lego smartphone and racing her sporty brick convertible down the studded streets on her suspended Lego driver’s license (not included). Alas, we’re still waiting on Lego to release a horde of paparazzi minifigs to hound her every move.
Not convinced that this is clearly the heiress to the Lego Hilton empire? She’s even accompanied by a chihuahua, mirroring Paris’s beloved dog Tinkerbell. Sadly, she doesn’t come with a purse for him to ride in.
There’s more good news if you’re feeling extra meta-snarky; Lego makes tons of police headquarters and jails for when you feel like having the cops bust her.
2) The Egyptian Queen
This one’s a blast from the past. Our radiant Egyptian Queen is rocking a flowing white gown accented with a stunning gold and sapphire necklace and belt. Her feminine facial features are highlighted by strikingly large swaths of blue eye shadow and framed by a head of distinctly styled and straightened ebony hair.
Could this more obviously be Cleopatra?
I’d love to be able to go even further and say that this is the late, great Elizabeth Taylor who famously portrayed the Queen of the Nile. Sadly, I couldn’t find a costume from the 1963 film that matches this one all that closely.
Fortunately, that won’t stop you from playing out history’s most infamous romances and rivalries, especially with all of the Roman and Egyptian soldiers Lego has released! There’s even a Roman emperor clearly inspired by Julius Caesar! Of course, you’re going to need, like, at least a dozen of those sand colored base plates to really sell the Egyptian deserts.
Want more proof that this is the last active pharaoh of Ancient Egypt? She comes with a slithering green snake. Among Cleopatra VII’s many exploits? She committed suicide by prompting an asp to bite her.
Now if only I could figure out how to get her into a lounging pose with that giant skirt piece of hers.
3) The Daredevil
Where have I seen this before? We’ve got a confidant man-without-fear (not that one) in a star-themed white jumpsuit and a cape, all topped off by a big sandy mane your dad would have been proud of.
Yeah, this is clearly legendary daredevil and motorcycle stunt rider Evel Knievel. Sure, Knievel wasn’t known to rock a pornstar-quality mustache, but are you really ever not going to have him strutting around in his matching motorcycle helmet?
Unfortunately, due to what I can only assume were size and cost constraints, The Daredevil doesn’t include a Lego version of the thing Knievel is most associated with – his motorcycle. Luckily for us, Lego has released them in a variety of sets over the years.
The one thing that this minifigure has over the real deal? He’s got no bones to break. The real Knievel holds an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records as “the survivor of the most bones broken in a lifetime.” He topped out at over 443 bone fractures (more than double the number of bones in an adult human skeleton). The worst the minifig has to worry about is his head temporarily popping off.
This minifigure is totally worth owning if for no other reason than that you can launch him and his bike at annoying people and then say, “Sorry! I was just attempting to break the world record for longest Lego motorcycle jump.”
4) The Lizard Guy
Here we have one of my personal favorites simply because of how insane it is that such a thing exists. The Lizard Guy is a man wearing a full-body bipedal lizard costume. Think about that for a moment. What really, really famous film monster is traditionally portrayed by a dude running around in a big lizard suit?
That’s right! This is a flippin’ Godzilla minifigure!
This guy is ready to destroy a miniature Lego city in the sound stage of an slightly less miniature Lego city while your Lego camera operators and Lego director egg him on! This could only be made better if there were another Lego minifigure in a gorilla suit with which he could do tiny battle!
What’s that? There is?
|Warner Bros. Pictures
I’ll admit, a lot of different actors have played Godzilla (over a dozen men and counting), so it’s not like we can really say which one this is. Still…it’s clearly a stuntman portraying the king of all kaiju.
Although, now that I look at him, he does kind of look like the Sh?wa version…
5) The Super Wrestler
With this minifigure we can see that Lego was sneaking in semi-famous faces all the way as far back as Series 1! They could have patterned The Super Wrestler‘s luchador outfit after any random color scheme. They could have…but they did not.
No, this champion luchador sports a set of tights in a very specific shade of baby blue. Likewise, his overlaying briefs and cape are very specifically a bright fire engine red. And naturally his mask and its trim match both respectively.
This, my friends, is Jack Black‘s character Nacho Libre.
Yes, there are some differences. The leggings are now a singlet and there’s an illustration of angel wings on the previously unadorned thighs (although I would argue such a thing is appropriate for a wrestler who works by day in a monastery). That said, there’s no denying the visual parallels. And if the singlet straps really bug you, you can give him the bare torso of the Series 3 Sumo Wrestler to more accurately reflect Jack Black’s husky physique.
Now we just need Lego to provide some more wrestlers so we can build a Lego battle royal! I’m tired of having him beat up Ninjago guys.
6) The Warrior Woman
This is a Xena minifigure.
The Lego Minifigure theme has already clearly demonstrated a willingness to delve into Greek and Roman mythology. We’ve gotten a minotaur, a cyclops, emperors, soldiers, Spartans, and, by the time this minifig came out, even a freakin’ gorgon. Surely Hercules and the rest of the pantheon can’t be far behind, right?
And that may be so. But in the meantime Lego unleashed The Warrior Woman, very obviously their take on Lucy Lawless from Xena: Warrior Princess.
Leather bodice and skirt with gold trim? Check!
Long, flowing dark hair? Yup!
Face that says, “I will grind you beneath my heel and enjoy doing it?” Hells and yes!
The only thing she’s missing is her patented chakram (and Lego totally could have printed one on the little round disc they use for pizzas).
If you’ve never seen Xena: Warrior Princess (or the show it spun off from, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys) do yourself a favor and go check them out. And if you don’t have this minifigure, absolutely hunt her down along with all the ancient monsters and stage yourself a Lego Greek mythology throw down.
Oh! Oh! Lego! I’m just sayin’ – Bruce Campbell as Autolycus, the King of Thieves? You know you want to…
7) The Saxophone Player
He’ll never get caught. This minifigure is on a mission from God.
The Saxophone Player is ready to lay it down for us in his stylin’ black suit, matching hat and oh-so-cool sunglasses. Of course, if that were all there was to him, then he could just be some random MIB agent. But check out those rockin’ sideburns! And is that a little bit of a double chin I detect? I think it is!
Yeah, I think this cool cat is pretty obviously John Belushi as “Joliet” Jake Blues from The Blues Brothers! So get your ass started on building a Bluesmobile and assembling every Lego police officer, sheriff, and firefighter you can! Or, barring that, just buy two of him and make a Lego version of Saturday Night Live!
He really should have come with a microphone (or a new harmonica piece for his brother Elwood) since neither of the brothers are known for playing the saxophone. But if you ever build out the rest of the band you’ll need a sax for “Blue Lou” Marini so it’s not a total loss.
Now give me some more Belushi goodness, Lego! Where’s my Samurai Delicatessen minifigure?
8) The Lifeguard
And then we have this buxom beauty. You can find The Lifeguard slow-motion jogging across your Lego beach, all the while rescuing hapless drowning minifigs and punching sharks and…and…
*Resigns self to looking up Baywatch on Wikipedia to see why the show lasted eleven seasons*
…and capturing serial killers and preventing nuclear bombs from detonating.
Wait, seriously? A show about lifeguards featured serial killers and nukes?
Anyhow, this is Pamela Anderson as C.J. Parker from Baywatch. Yes, I’ll grant you the initials on her red lifeguard swimsuit say “G.T.” (the meaning behind I spent way, way too much time trying to unsuccessfully decipher) but Anderson is so iconic in that role that even someone like me who didn’t watch the show knows what a pretty blonde with an accentuated chest in a red one-piece is an homage to.
And the designers didn’t stop there. She’s got a small circular rescue logo just above her left hip, mirroring the “Baywatch” logo on Anderson’s swimsuit. And, when the time comes for her to haul a water-logged Lego City citizen back to shore, she comes with a Lego rescue buoy! The only thing she’s missing is a Lego version of The Hoff! (They made a Lifeguard Guy, but he looks nothing like Mitch Buchannon.)
I’ve got to be honest, I suspect the slow-motion running is going to, uh, lose a little bit of its punch in Lego form.
9) The Sad Clown
Whoever’s in charge of the Minifigure theme is clearly a history nerd. Since its inception we’ve had blind-bagged characters from Greek mythology, Ancient Egypt, the Wild West, and even feudal Japan. But perhaps the nerdiest reference is The Sad Clown.
There have been Lego clowns before, but each of those was dressed in gaudy and brightly-colored clothes befitting a tramp. That is to say, they were basically the American circus clowns we most commonly think of today. This guy, on the other hand, is sporting a stark white jumper and cone hat with black accents, including a distinctive row of pom-poms that run up his torso and hat. And, of course, a single dark tear runs down his whitened face.
He’s clearly a Pierrot (a stock character from Commedia dell’Arte), but more than that, this particular design is one routinely used for the famous character Pagliaccio.
You heard me. This is a freakin’ Lego minifigure homage to the title character of the 1892 Italian opera Pagliacci. The opera – a tale that involves an affair, murder and lots and lots of passion – is perhaps most famous for its final line. Having just slain his wife and her lover, an anguished and enraged Pagliaccio cries out, “La commedia ? finita!” You may be more familiar with it as, “The comedy is over!”
Or you may just recognize him as the role Sideshow Bob plays when he tries to kill the Simpsons in Italy. That works too.
|The Simpsons / Fox Television
Either way, this is one nerdy minifigure.
As you can see, those sneaky Lego geniuses have no problem slipping “real people” into their tiny world of little yellow guys and gals. And since the Lego Minifigure series is still going strong, I can only imagine we’ll see plenty more where these came from.
What about you, boys and girls? What people or characters would you like to see get an homage as a minifigure?
Previously by Jeb Whitlock
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