Minifigures Through Time: A History of Collectible Minifigures Series

So I was reading my fellow bloggers’ posts the other day, and I have to admit, I felt a bit jealous. At least two of them were writing several articles based on some kind of theme, and it felt… pretty cool! I mean think about it, you have this main subject, you divide it into smaller subjects, they are both individuals but part of the bigger picture as well… what’s not to like? And so I said to myself, “Yes, I’m going to do that, too. I’m going to find a theme and write articles about it!”

Like everything, it was easier said than done. Of course, LEGO was a tremendous source when it came to themes and sub-themes, but there were two important things: One, it need to be unique, something I haven’t seen or read somewhere before. Two, it needed to be big enough to become a series of posts. And with the second part came the subject I needed… series… series… hey, why don’t I write about the Collectible (collectable??) Minifigure Series?!!

I can hear some of you saying “Riigght… and what’s so special about the CMF series?” Well, nothing, when you say it like that 😛 However, I’m not talking about looking at the CMF Series like series #1, series #2, series #…. No, I’m talking about taking the whole thing – all main 18 series – and looking at the connections, similarities and differences in between them. Who knows, maybe we’ll even be able to predict what will be in the next series before the article is over!

It has been almost 10 years since the first CMF series was released – which tells me we should get ready for another Mr. Gold level rare Minifigure. Honestly, I find it quite annoying, putting rare Minifigures in blind bags, like the Classic Police Officer or Percivil Graves  from Fantastic Beasts. It’s great if you’re getting the series by the box, sure, but if not, you either need to feel every single blind bag for that one figure, or worse, pay insane amounts of money for that “rare” figure. I mean, do you guys know how much Mr. Gold sells for on Bricklink? And are you kidding me?!

Right, right, sorry, I got off subject for a second. Although technically, I haven’t really started talking about the subject yet so… Does it really count? * loophole 🙂 *

So here we go, the first article about the CMF Series is…

Minifigures Through Time

history of collectible minifigures: the first manMy dad used to tell me stories when I was a kid. Many of them started with “A looooong, long time ago, people used to live in caves” and ended with the invention of the radio, the computer, the car etc. Ladies and gentlemen, before everything, there were two LEGO Minifigures, a caveman and his woman. The answer to the question of “Who came first, man or woman?” is easy with these guys, because in their case, the man came first. He was introduced with the very first CMF series, and his life-long friend came four series later, in the 5th CMF series.

history of collectible minifigures: the first womanThe little Caveman and Cavewoman have some firsts, like that spiked club they both carry. The Caveman was the first to use it, and the Cavewoman was the first to use the dark brown version. Their hair pieces are unique, too. The hair/beard combination was not the first of its kind, a similar design was previously used on Hagrid’s Minifigure. However, it was the first time for a regular sized minifigure to have that combo. Same is true for the soft plastic hair of the Cavewoman – while some Minifigures like the Crazy Scientist from CMF 4 had soft plastic hair, now it was possible to attach bar-sized accessories to it, like a bone or a short spear.

But it’s not the hair pieces, nor the beautifully detailed outfits that strike me. No, it is their expressions. Take out the hair pieces, and you can see how suspicious the Cavewoman is, and probably with good reason! The Caveman… he is on a league all its own. I have yet to see such a silly expression on a Minifigure – and that unibrow is so perfect (and the first unibrow on a Minifigure, too)!

Walk Like an Egyptian 

A little (!) time has passed, and the cave people evolved and turned into… Egyptians! Yes, we now have a Pharaoh (CMF 2), an Egyptian Queen (CMF 5) and an Egyptian Warrior (CMF 13)! However, we also have warriors of Greek and Roman origins who are getting ready to take over the world! But before we witness history unfolding, let’s take a closer look at the Egyptians first.

history of collectible minifigures: ancient egypthistory of collectible minifigures: ancient egyptBoth the Egyptian Queen and the Pharaoh are very well detailed, from their gold-lined outfits to their make-up and shiny jewelry. It may not be the first time we see the Pharaoh’s headpiece (see Adventurers and Pharaoh’s Quest themes), but  it’s the first time it’s made of metallic gold color. His staff, on the other hand, was designed just for him. Fun fact: Did you know that snakes were a symbol of royalty in Ancient Egypt? The staff is the perfect accessory for our little Pharaoh! As for the queen… well, she also has a snake, but this time as a pet – although the reference to a certain someone 1, who happened to be bitten by a snake, is very, very suspicious…!

So what about the Egyptian Warrior? Rumor is, he is the illegitimate child of the Pharaoh! His mom hid his existence from everyone to save his life, but the boy wanted to be with his father so when he grew up, he joined the army. He climbed the ranks quickly and became one of the bodyguards of the Pharaoh. He gets his eyes from his dad, as you can see, and he is very passionate about what he does. He has a shiny golden sword, which he uses skillfully, and a shiny golden shield showing the sun God Ra watching over his father’s empire.    

And the Pharaoh will definitely need more than one skilled warrior, for the Roman Emperor has his eyes on the queen and the empire! He’s getting ready with all kinds of warriors, he has soldiers with the finest commanders, gladiators, and even the hot-headed Spartans on his side, not to mention warrior princesses and Goddesses! And what does the Pharaoh have? One warrior, and yes, I almost forgot, one Mummy (CMF 3) – which may be great for cursing people, but I doubt he’ll be much use on the battlefield…

Again, let’s pause before the battle begins and take a look at these characters.

Veni, Vidi, Vici

The Roman Emperor (CMF 9), oh yes. Now this is one handsome figure, and with so many little details, too! First, he has a brand new hair piece, with a golden leaf crown. His outfit is, of course, embroidered with gold, as it should be with any royalty. He even has tiny golden sandals on his feet! However, maybe the most crucial thing about him is the tile he comes with: Some kind of declaration starting with the words “Veni, Vidi, Vici” 2. Now, I know I’ve heard those words somewhere before, but I just can’t put my finger on it… Finally, the stern expression on his face says it all – he is here to stay!

So who’s supporting the emperor? First of all, we have the Spartan Warrior (CMF 2). He may be a little out of his time, but he was sent as a spy to Ancient Egypt as soon as the Pharaoh appeared. He bided his time, waiting for the battle to begin. While he is fully armored and weaponized, you can see in his face that not battling made him a bit… cranky. He has a golden helmet with a dark red  crest, which protects his head but shows his angry face at the same time. His cape and tunic are the same shade of red as the crest, and so are his sandals. He has a  bronze armor and a shield, and a contrasting gray spear – though no less deadly.

history of collectible minifigures: roman soldierWhen the emperor saw the queen, he knew he had to get his army ready, so he started recruiting soldiers. The Roman Soldier (CMF 6) was one of the first to join. His obedience and the desire to follow orders made him perfect. Knowing he would be the foundation of his army, the emperor equipped him with care. His shield has a unique shape, which, since it’s first appearance, has appeared in only one other Minifigure 3.  Also, the printing on the shield is almost an exact replica of an authentic Roman shield. Same is true for his helmet. The design is very close to what Roman soldiers used to wear back in the day. There’s even a place on top to attach a crest, if need be. He has strong plate armour, on which you can even see how it’s all tied together, a fancy red tunic, and sandals. You have to admit, the emperor (!) spent some quality time designing the perfect soldier!

history of collectible minifigures: roman commanderUnfortunately, while he’s very good at following orders, he kinda sucks at giving them. Having realized this, the emperor assigned the Roman Commander (CMF 10) to, well, command the soldiers. Fun fact: The commander was requested by fans when the Roman Soldier first came out. You can see at first glance that he is no ordinary soldier. How? Well, he doesn’t need to shave as much, for starters 🙂 It seems having to shave has always been a must in the military, and the importance of it decreases as the rank increases – who knew? Of course, a stubble is not the only thing that makes a commander. While he has the same authentic helmet as his soldier, the crest is unique to his design. There have been other attachable crests and plumes since the very first Castle LEGO Minifigures, but this one is one of a kind, and only comes with this specific Minifigure. His dark gray armor further emphasizes his status, and his cape is ‘tied’ around a wolf-headed pin, symbolizing Romulus, the first king of Rome. His silver sword is the only defense he has, but really, who needs more when you have the perfect soldier fighting for you?

From Slave to Warrior

history of collectible minifigures: roman gladiatorhistory of collectible minifigures: gladiatorWhile the soldier and the commander are volunteers and loyal to the emperor, there are some who do not share their enthusiasm. The Gladiator (CMF 5) and the Roman Gladiator (CMF 17). Over the years, these guys have won many fights in the arena. Don’t let the Roman Gladiator’s lack of armour fool you, he is one of the most agile fighters of all time. However, as years passed, they grew tired of fighting for entertainment, so the emperor gave them a deal: Fight for his cause to earn their freedom. Whichever way the battle goes, this will be their last… *enter dramatic music*

Now these guys are very special indeed. The Gladiator’s helmet has an amazing design, so much detail, and very close to what real-life gladiators wore back in the day. It is also unique to this Minifigure only, no other is worthy enough to wear it. Although it seems like the helmet covers his whole face, the holes line up perfectly with his eyes, allowing him to see clearly. His sword is a new design as well, again based on real gladiator equipment. However, he wasn’t very happy when he heard that the Roman Commander also uses the same sword. Since then, many others have used it, and the Gladiator just doesn’t care anymore.

The Roman Gladiator, like I’ve said, relies on his agility. He doesn’t need all that heavy armour, helmets, or shields. Give him a trident to strike his foes from afar, and he’ll defeat the worst of the worst!

Throwing Thunderbolts and Breathing Fire

history of collectible minifigures: warrior womanI saved the best ones for last: The ladies! We have the Warrior Woman (CMF 10) and the Battle Goddess (CMF 12). Now these ladies have very interesting reasons for joining the Roman Emperor’s cause. Apparently, the Warrior Woman used to be a princess! Imagine that! But her rebellious character made her leave everything behind and become a warrior instead. Now, I swear that sounds familiar, I remember reading a similar story but… who was that? I can’t remember. If she had a disc and sword instead of a spear and shield, she could be 4… No, no, I’m imagining things. And that eagle on her shield, almost like 5… no, it’s not possible. Anyway, the only fact known about her is that her outfit, unlike the previously mentioned Minifigures, is not based on a historical character or period, but on fantasy themed movies and books. No matter where she came from, it’s easy to see that she’s ready for battle!

history of collectible minifigures: battle goddessAs for the Battle Goddess… there are rumors that she used to hate fighting. However, one day, a mortal made the mistake of comparing the Egyptian Queen’s beauty to hers. It was an honest mistake, really. He hasn’t seen many women before, and when he laid eyes on the queen, he was captivated by her beauty. Why he went and told this to the Battle Goddess, we will never know. It was his last mistake. Furious with the thought of a mortal woman being as beautiful as she is, she donned her armor and joined the cause to destroy the queen for once and for all. Gods are funny like that. I bet she’d re-think her decision if she knew how much the emperor fancied the queen.

Of course being a Goddess has other perks than turning mortals into stone. Take her headpiece, for example. Her hair and helmet is combined. I know lately we’ve been seeing more and more examples of this, but go a few years back, and you’ll see that Minifigures had either headgear or hair, never both. One of the first appearances of this combo was in the Pirates of the Caribbean theme, with Captain Jack Sparrow. After that, there were other licensed themes that used this, and soon, it was used with Minifigures from all themes. This one, however, is again, unique to the Battle Goddess, along with its white crest. As you can see, she prefers a spear and a shield, just like the Warrior Woman, but her shield has a Pegasus instead of an eagle, an animal fit for a Goddess! Her outfit even further emphasizes her Godhood, from her golden wristbands to her golden belt, her golden undies, even her golden flip-flops! Ok, calling them flip-flops may decrease her Godhood a bit, but come on, she’s wearing flip-flops!!

And there you have it, historical Minifigures from the collectible… wait a minute… all this talk, and I was able to mention only two (ok, two and a half) eras? Oh man, I thought we were done with all this history stuff. Not so fun fact: History was one of my weakest subjects throughout my education, I never liked it much. Makes one wonder, if I had these figures back then, would it be any different?

Oh well, I guess I will continue another time. Meanwhile, let’s see what’s been happening as I was writing this post.

 

Be sure to check out part 2 of Minifigures Through Time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: While most of the facts mentioned in this post came from reliable sources, the relationships of the characters and their backstories mostly came from the writer’s imagination. Any and all similarities between what’s mentioned above and what the LEGO Group has intended are purely coincidental.

Images showing single figures are taken from www.brickset.com . Group pictures belong to the author.

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1: It is believed that Cleopatra, the queen of Egypt, committed suicide by letting an Egyptian cobra bite her.

2: “Veni, vidi, vici” or “I came, I saw, I conquered” is believed to be said by Julius Caesar, the guy who turned the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. Humble fella.

3: See here.

4 & 5: Her? Or her? Dealer’s choice 🙂

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Pinar

Some girls play with Barbies while others create small worlds with minifigures and continue to do so when they grow up. You can probably guess which group I belong to :)
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