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  One small man: Lego astronaut minifig turns 30

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Author Topic:   One small man: Lego astronaut minifig turns 30
Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 08-25-2008 10:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Lego minifigure was first manufactured and packed into a LEGO set the morning of August 25, 1978. Children of all ages and Lego employees around the world today commemorated the milestone by kicking off Go Miniman Go!, a movement that aims to inspire generations of LEGO children to reconnect with the adventures their minifigures enabled them to live through creative, constructive Lego play.

In 1973, Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, son of the company founder, challenged designers to add a new dimension of play to the Lego building experience, leading to the first Lego figures - a family created from a combination of Lego bricks and special elements to build people. A smaller figure, a simple head on an unmoving body, was introduced in 1975. Godtfred's son, Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, introduced play themes to the Lego System of building toys, signaling a need for a more realistic, moving figure that had more role play ability for children. Sketch after sketch led to the design of nearly 50 different prototypes and crude models before company executives chose the contemporary minifigure. A patent was filed in 1977, and the first minifigures were manufactured and put into sets for the world to enjoy -- in time for the holiday season of 1978 -- in the Town, Space and Castle themes.

The very first minifigure was a police officer, followed by a fireman, a
nurse, astronauts, medieval knights, a gas station attendant and a
construction worker.

The first minifigure astronauts shipped in 1978 came in red and white spacesuits with a moon and rocket logo imprinted on their upper torso.

Various changes to the basic design followed, but the first to appear with a NASA logo and to be modeled after a real spacesuit came in 2003 with the limited release Lunar Lander (10029). The two included figures wore Apollo-style spacesuits, consistent with the set's NASA-approved theme.

Lego astronaut minifigures have flown on the space shuttle and in 2004, landed on Mars with the Spirit and Opportunity rovers.

In the past three decades, over four billion minifigures -- astronauts included -- have been produced; that's more than 12 times the population of the United States. Every second, 3.9 minifigures are sold around the world.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-30-2010 04:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Lego is currently running a promotion on their website: Purchase $75 or more (maybe buying this?) and receive "an authentic, vintage Spaceman minifigure, on a removable 2x4 Brick magnet" with the quote "...in space since 1978." Just use code USSM at checkout...

GoesTo11
Member

Posts: 1025
From: Denver, CO USA
Registered: Jun 2004

posted 06-30-2010 05:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Aaaaand... I feel old.

mark plas
Member

Posts: 360
From: the Netherlands
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 07-01-2010 02:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mark plas   Click Here to Email mark plas     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This brings back old memories. I got my first set, the Alpha-1 rocket base, when I turned 5 years old in 1980.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
Member

Posts: 2123
From: Toms River, NJ,USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 07-01-2010 08:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by GoesTo11:
Aaaaand... I feel old.

You ain't the only one. I remember those being the first minifigs to not only have faces, but movable arms.

I briefly toyed - pardon the pun - of building a Lego city, getting some of the sets I used to have from way back when and combining them with the newer sets that looked neat. It would have been a strange city, with the new minifigs, those with arms and faces and driving six-stud wide cars, mixing in with the faceless and handless, driving four-stud wide cars.

Jay Chladek
Member

Posts: 2211
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 07-01-2010 09:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think my Legos from childhood are still in storage, including a couple of the space sets from circa 1979-80. As such, I grew up with the space man figures and spent many hours playing with them.

A couple months back, I found a cool T-shirt at a model show. It was blue in color and on the front it had the Lego space agency logo. The back had a couple of the computer display panel artworks on it. Even though I don't do much with Legos today, given how much fun I had with those space sets back then, I had to snatch it up.

GoesTo11
Member

Posts: 1025
From: Denver, CO USA
Registered: Jun 2004

posted 07-01-2010 12:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jay Chladek:
I think my Legos from childhood are still in storage, including a couple of the space sets from circa 1979-80. As such, I grew up with the space man figures and spent many hours playing with them

I had most of the LEGO space sets from that era. My favorite thing was to mix them up and build "replicas" of actual spacecraft like Ranger, Viking, and Voyager... Or I'd just make up a ship as I built it.

All gone now, presumably into the same black hole as all my Star Wars toys and figures. It blows my mind what that stuff sells for on eBay these days.

tegwilym
Member

Posts: 2284
From: Renton, WA USA
Registered: Jan 2000

posted 07-01-2010 03:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think I was 10 years when that rocket launcher came out for about $8 at the local toy store. I spent a whole weekend collecting newspapers and bottles to recycle for money. I think I ended up with about $7.50 after the weekend. Took a few more weeks to get the money, but it was so awesome when I got it!

Now 32 years later I'm eagerly waiting for my shuttle to arrive!

Retro Rocket
Member

Posts: 245
From: Santa Paula, Ca,. USA
Registered: Dec 2007

posted 07-04-2010 05:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Retro Rocket   Click Here to Email Retro Rocket     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My first Lego set was given to me by my grandmother in 1975 who had just returned from France. It was the Moon Lander with Rover and three astronauts, but they weren't the minifigs, those were introduced in '78. Before that my faves were Tinkertoys, Erector sets and Lincoln logs.

We built our own house in the country just west of D.C. so I had plenty of real building blocks to make forts, dog houses and chicken coops.

After the moon kit Legos were now my favorite and I begged my parents for a new kit each time the chance arose.

When I saw the 487 Space Cruiser I had to get it. Till then, the shapes were very basic and building an airplane was near impossible, but that kit had a whole bunch of great new shapes and it kepy me busy a long time.

Since I was an only child in the country with ony a few families with kids my age nearby I plated with Legos, built models and drew a lot of spacecraft like my new hero Joe Johnston, the Star Wars designer.

In '78 and '79 Lego made a few more space kits and I bought them all and set up different layouts and vehicles. I did a BSG Land Ram using the new tracks and motors offered in set 404, which was my favorite Xmas present of '79.

Here's the kits in the catalogs, note the layouts: 1 | 2 | 3

Back in '99 I bought a huge collection of Lego space kits from '77 to '85. When I was young I really only got the pre '80 kits.

By 1980 I was 13 and by then I was good enough to build nice models, but they ended up taking too long. My dad had moved to California and I'd stay there for Xmas and the summer.

My interests also shifted from models and space toys to cars and Playboys. When I moved to California in '82, I was in Santa Barbara, the nicest place I've ever lived and I really want to move back there.

I designed a coffee table with a clear glass top and the 2x4 baseplate layout with all those first space kits. I used thin acrylic panels on the underside to keep the cats and Annie Frank, our ferret out of the spaceport.

I lost the pictures of it, but if I can get Lego Digital Designer working, I can do the layout and table in CAD and put it up for sale. I have enough sets to do a couple!

Anyone interested in this or the later sets, e-mail me and I'll put a list of what I have together. All the keepers are going to my son.

Jay Chladek
Member

Posts: 2211
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 07-04-2010 05:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ahhh the memories. The Space Cruiser and Moonbase set #928 is the one I had (and likely still have the parts for in storage). That takes me back.

Retro Rocket
Member

Posts: 245
From: Santa Paula, Ca,. USA
Registered: Dec 2007

posted 07-05-2010 09:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Retro Rocket   Click Here to Email Retro Rocket     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When I built my 1/25th International Space Station for NASA HQ to display at the National Air and Space Museum, there were lots of Lego parts used for detailing the model and many of the added details were correct in size, shape and scale for the model.

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