Lego – with an almost century-long history – has celebrated a lot of key anniversaries in its time. But this year falls fallow between key birthday touchpoints. Instead of commemorating a moment, its latest launch salutes the resident mayor of the toy box. Announced today, the plastic minifigure has been reworked into a new wooden, and upscaled, format. ‘We’ve never really paid homage to the classic minifigure in this way,’ says Sine Klitgaard Møller – a longstanding design director at The Lego Group. ‘Our trend reporting tells us that there’s a real appetite with our dedicated fan base – and from the public at large – to see historic objects reconfigured.’ 

Few understand the appetites of the Lego community better than Møller, who has been with the organisation for 24 years, and highlights the family-feel of the company. Injecting an outsider perspective is playful homeware design specialists Room Copenhagen (which Lego has worked with as a licensed partner for many years). Together, the in-house Lego design team worked with Room Copenhagen to create this contemporary twist on a classic.

Lego Minifigure
Lego minifigure holding a camera

The main change? Minifigure has had a growth spurt: now, it stretches over 20cm toe-to-hat. The traditional plastic body has been swapped for handcrafted FSC-certified oak, with adjustable yellow plastic hands, familiar to today’s Lego minifigures.

Though forward-looking in materiality, the piece recalls key moments from Lego’s history, like the Bedford firetruck (1959), which was the last product to combine plastic and wood in this way. The first Lego toys were hand crafted from wood, as per the vision of the late founder and master carpenter, Ole Kirk Christiansen. His craftsmanship and attention to detail secured a high level of quality, but when wood supplies became scarce in the aftermath of the Second World War, Ole started supplementing his production with plastics. ‘I have always been committed to making the nicest and most robust objects, and just like other carpenters I believe the best type of advertising is when the product promotes itself,’ Christiansen said, speaking in 1950. ‘Our purpose is to produce a really good, solid and finely crafted piece of work, and ensure LEGO products always be known for their exceptional quality.’

With this renewed emphasis on materiality, one wonders: is this a toy to be played with, or a decorative shelf-dweller? Either and both, says Møller. ‘Lego should be for everybody. A lot of our dedicated fans would place it on a shelf, as it is a truly beautiful object to look at. But we want to give everybody the opportunity to interact with the piece, too. There’s a lot of art objects out there that you can buy, but we really wanted to nudge people to get creative.’ §