In 2010, Lego released their first wave of Lego Minifigures which became an instant global success (somewhat to the surprise of the manufacturer). The Minfigures have now had 4 series of 16 figures in each released, with a Series 5 due later in 2011.
The figures have proved to be popular with children and adults alike due to a combination of price, design and availability. Retailing at around $2.99US/£1.99UK and available from supermarkets, toy stores and online, the unique and humorous design is what has made them so popular, along with the fact that people just love to collect and complete their collections. The figures from Series 3 and 4 are still readily available in the UK (with Series 3 gradually becoming less so, as of July 2011), however online stores still have a high availability of the figures. Figures from the earlier sets can be obtained from sites such as eBay but as with all collectible items, they are starting to show a collectors price premium.
Lego Minifigures Series 1 (8683)
The first wave of 16 figures were released in May/June 2010, each sold separately in individual bags with a display stand, specic character accessories and figure series check list. The Series was identified by it Yellow colour scheme and consisted of the following characters;
Cheerleader, Caveman, Circus Clown, Zombie, Spaceman, Demolition (Crash Test) Dummy, Forestman, Cowboy, Magician, Deep Sea Diver, Nurse, Robot, Ninja, Super Wrestler, Tribal Hunter & Skater.
The figures were marketed as mystery figures, however collectors soon realised that each character could be identified by the unique barcode (something Lego would change from Series 3 onwards). Limited supplies, particularly in the US, made this series perhaps the most sought-after of all the series so far.
Lego Minifigures Series 2 (8684)
Following on from the success of the first series, in September 2010, Lego released the second series of 16 figures, which again was hugely popular. Increased volume meant there were fewer distribution and availability issues, which was the case with the first series. Nonetheless, the second series is also highly sought after. The packaging for the second series was a Dark Blue colour and again, it was found that individual characters could be identified by the unique barcode. The characters in the Second Series are;
Pop Star, Karate Master, Lifeguard, Spartan Warrior, Witch, Weight Lifter, Ring Master, Explorer, Pharoh, Surfer, Traffic Cop, Mime, Skier, Maraca Man, Disco Dude & Vampire.
Lego Minifigures Series 3 (8803)
In January 2011, Lego released Series 3. As before, 16 unique figures, with the same attention to detail as previous series. The third series packaging is identified by it's Lime Green colouring. The figures in the third set are;
Elf, Sumo Wrestler, Space Alien, Space Villain, Rapper, Mummy, Pilot, Snowboarder, Fisherman, Baseball Player, Tribal Chief, Racing Car Driver, Hula Dancer, Tennis Player, Samurai Warrior, Gorilla Suit Guy (one of my personal favourites, the poor guy is sweating under the mask!).
As mentioned previously, Lego abandoned the unique bar-coding of each character and instead, added bump codes on the packaging which made it almost impossible to identify the figure. Some people have advised that the easiest way now to try to identify, is to "feel"" the packet, where possible.
Lego Minifigures Series 4 (8804)
April 2011 saw the release of the Fourth Series of 16 minifigures. This time, with distinctive Orange marketing packaging. the figures in the fourth series are as follows;
Surfer Girl, the Monster, Kimono Girl, Punk Rocker, Sailor, Viking, Muskateer, Artist, Werewolf, Crazy Scientist, Ice Skater, Soccer Player, Lawn Gnome, Hazmat Guy, Street Skater, Hockey Player.
Once again, an exciting and innovative set that has proved Globally popular.
Lego Minifigures Series 5 (8805)
Lego have announced the release of Series 5 for July 2011 and should be appearing in retailers any time now. The Marketing colour scheme for the 5th set is Light Blue and the collection will no doubt prove as popular with collectors, as previous series. The 16 figures in the new series are;
Boxer, Ancient Egyptian Woman, Cavewoman, Detective, Dinosaur Suit Man, Eskimo, Dwarf, Zookeeper, Clown, Fitness Dancer, University Graduate, Gangster, Grenadier Guard, Male Snowboarder, Murmillo (Gladiator) & Lumberjack.
The packaging retains the "Bump" codes similar to series 3 & 4 so it may be easier to determine the exact figure by feel, although there are code diagrams on the the web if you search.
Lego Minifigures Series 6 (8831)
The next wave of Lego Minifigures was released in January 2012. The marketing colour scheme White and Grey. As before, 16 new character figures in the collection and are as follows;
Statue of Liberty, Roman Soldier, Genie, Butcher, Highlander, Robot, Female Space ranger, Tired Child (with teddy), Skater Girl, Leprechaun, Flamenco Dancer, Bandit, Mechanic, Minotaur, Female Surgeon & Alien.
As in all previous sets, this has some great new characters, I particularly like the Genie and the Bandit. Each pack should continue to retail at around $2.99/£1.99.
Lego Minifigures Series 7 (8831)
Released in May 2012, Lego released Minifigure series 7. Again, 16 new figures, packaged in a Red Marketing scheme. The new figures in Wave 7 are;
Female Rock Star, Aztec Warrior, Scottish Bagpipe Player, Sc-Fi Warrior, Hippie, Dark Knight, Red Riding Hood, Merman, Tennis Player, Olympic Swimmer, Bunny Costume Guy, Jungle Boy, Female Viking, Daredevil, Bride & Geek.
More female characters this time and once again, some humorous characters (love the Bunny Guy!).
Lego Minifigures Series 8 (8833)
September 2012 saw the release of Series 8. As previously, 16 figures in the full set and marketed in a Black grab bag and the figures are as follows;
Cowgirl, DJ, Vampire Bat, Diver, Pirate Captain, Skier, Santa Claus, Thespian (Shakespearian Actor), Fairy, Bavarian, Robot, Conquistador, Alien, Cheerleader, American Football Player, Businessman
Some nice new variations in the set that will likely be of interest to collectors of the series, notably the Santa Claus and the Thespian/Actor, however others are starting to show some repetition from earlier series, albeit with some minor changes. As previously , the retail price is US$2.99/UK£1.99 but there also appears to be a small markdown on prices from retailers if you shop around(particularly in the UK) to around UK£1.97, probably due to increased competition for Star Wars Fighter Pods, Power Ranger and the new Angry Bird Star Wars mystery bags, which are sold in the same display areas on shop floors.
The Lego designers have excelled again and provided an enduring series which still has scope for further releases. The Minifigures are a Highly Collectible set if you're a Big Lego fan and collector, it may prove to be a worthy investment if you have the time and money as full series sets on eBay are already retailing at a high premium. Series set's are often available on eBay and other site, the newer sets are usually priced around US$100/UK£60 (as of late 2012).
Series 9 is scheduled to be released on January 2013 with no confirmation yet of the figures but rumours are that it will include a guy in a chicken suit! mermaid, waiter, Ceasar amongst others.