Human rights icons in the form of LEGO minifigs

Posted by Rob Walker on January 17, 2008
Posted Under: Blogging The Brand,Consumer Behavior,Fandom,Flickr Artifacts,Pleasing,The People's Marketing

Martin Luther King, Jr., originally uploaded by Dunechaser.

As the title makes clear, that’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Or rather, it is a Lego “minifig” representation of Martin Luther King Jr.

I encountered this on Flickr yesterday, and I was surprised, and interested. Particularly because Flickr photographer Dunechaser’s photostream, and related blog The Brothers Brick, contain images of other minifig representations of human-rights icons: Steve Biko, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Gandhi. Go ahead and click, it’s worth it.

Please put aside the issue of whether or not the above image actually resembles Martin Luther King, Jr. I knew that Lego made lots of minifigures — but were these manufactured and sold as MLK (and Ghandi, etc.)? I asked Dunechaser, whose real name is Andrew Becraft.

“The short answer is no,” he replied. “That said, aside from the occasional accessory created by a third-party vendor, I only use official parts manufactured by LEGO. It’s all about putting together the little plastic bricks in an interesting way — sort of like working in a medium with a limited palette, which is more challenging. Nearly all the LEGO creations you see on Flickr are original designs as well.”

So these are customized creations, as it were. Relevant Flickr pools include The Minifig Stars Pool, and the LEGO Pool.

Mr. Becraft adds: “There are certainly very rare LEGO minifigs, and since I’ve been collecting for more than 30 years, I have LEGO elements that are no longer available. LEGO occasionally produces very small runs of elements to test designs or new colors, and these can show up on the secondary market (eBay and a site called BrickLink). Naturally, elements that were never released in LEGO sets are very, very rare”

He also tells me he’s part of LEGO Ambassadors, which is described on the site as “a community based program made up of adult LEGO hobbyists who share their product and building expertise with the world-wide LEGO community (kids and adults actively participating in a LEGO community) and the public (kids, parents, grandparents).” Details on that here. The upshot is that it’s a sort of brand-evangelism/co-promotion/people’s-marketing situation. So I suppose on some level, by posting this entry, I’m playing into the hands of LEGO’s murketing! Ah, well.

Okay, if you didn’t click above, you simply must see Gandhi. Here he is:

Mohandas K. Gandhi, originally uploaded by Dunechaser.

Further diversion may be found at MKTG Tumblr, and the Consumed Facebook page.

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