LEGO’s are known the world over! Their blocks excite our imagination. Give a kid a mess of Lego blocks and in no time they’ll have a structure reaching to the sky! Yet for all the fun of making buildings or secret caves, let’s face it, there wouldn’t be much life to LEGOs without those tiny, (mostly) yellow-faced Minifigures. Minifigs as they are called, allow children to infuse persona into their play. A child can be anyone and go anywhere there imagination takes them!
In this post, you’ll get a sneak peek behind the scenes inside a Lego factory and see how Minifigs are made. There are many steps in the process to make a figure and its fascinating to see the pieces zoom through the automated assembly line and step by step coming to life!
So let’s have a look at the video that’s coming straight from the company’s official YouTube channel and see how thousands upon thousands of Minifigures are made each day!
Brief Minifigure History
A bit of history. Minifigs were first introduced in 1978. Lego was awarded a Design Patent in 1979 protecting their investment in the Minifigs for years to come!
Initially, each piece of the figures was a single color with no printed on details. The wide range of characters and personalities we know today had yet to be born. Fast forward, 2016 and we have Minifigures decked out in full-color and printed on facial expressions. Today’s Lego Minifigures are packed with personality!
The Process Begins!
It starts with the iconic yellow stud heads. Thousands of faceless head blanks make their way along the conveyor belt to be detailed individually. One belt usually caters to a single type of face, and it can produce up to 23,000 printed heads per hour.
Achieving full facial expression is a multi-step process. Each head momentarily stops at a pad printing station dedicated to printing on each facial feature. First, stop hair. Next up eyes, and so on! In the final step, we see a little white dot applied to the eye. That’s the finishing touch that makes the eyes seem to twinkle with adventure!
Elsewhere, bodies for the individual heads are being made. Like before, these blank plastic pieces are first to receive their decorative pad printing and then are whisked down the line for the next step of assembly.
You can’t have a humanoid LEGO minifig without arms and those iconic claw-like hands. Body are precisely assembled by tiny robotic grippers and sliding actuators. Using the neck square on the top as a guide (you can see a little blue light in the first image above), the bodies are set properly onto a conveyor belt where they await their upper body appendages.
Yellow hands are added to the ends of the arms to round out the upper body. Counting the arms and hands, 8,000 bodies are assembled per hour.
To help the Minifigures stand up, another conveyor belt oversees the leg assembly. It’s here where the individual parts are snapped on and moved down the line.
At this point in the production process, the Minifigures meet up with other parts that make up the set. The pieces are sorted and travel down a step-like belt to the bagging station.
LEGO minifigures typically come unassembled in plastic bags, but you can also make your own LEGO companion out of individual pieces at some of their retail stores.
Apart from this, certain LEGO sets come with their own unique and pre-asssembled minifigures to complement their themes (think a Darth Vader minifig to go with a LEGO Death Star).
LEGO’s YouTube channel has tons of videos detailing the creation of some of their most beloved toys, so be sure to check it out!