This paper toy is a Lego Minifigure (sometimes abbreviated as "minifigs"), designed by Toy a Day. A Lego minifigure is a small plastic articulated figurine available as part of the construction toy Lego, produced by Danish toy manufacturer the Lego Group. They were first produced in 1978, and have become hugely successful, with over 3.7 billion produced, and the figure appearing in a variety of media, including movies, books and video games. The figures are usually found within Lego sets, although they are also sold separately as keychains and magnets. While some are named as specific characters, either licensed from film franchises or of Lego's own creation, many are unnamed and are designed simply to fit within a certain theme. Minifigures are collected by both children and adults. They are highly customizable, and parts from different figures can be mixed and matched, resulting in a large number of combinations.
A precursor to the minifigure was released in 1975. These were at the same scale as the current minifigures, but had a different design. They had solid torsos without separate movable arms, solid lower body pieces that were not moveable, and heads without printed features. They had a small variety of headpieces, including caps, pigtail hair and cowboy hats.
The first modern minifigures were released in 1978, with seven different figures in Castle, Space, and Town. For the next 11 years, minifigure heads were produced with a simple facial expression, rendered as two solid black dots for eyes and a smile, also painted in solid black. In 1989, minifigures in the Pirates theme were produced with different facial expressions. The Pirates minifigures also included hooks for hands, as well as peg legs; this was the first departure from the traditional body parts.
Minifigures generally feature six parts: head, torso, hips, arms, hands, and legs; these six parts allow seven points of articulation: swivel head, swivel arms, swivel wrists, and swivel legs. Minifigures are usually packaged as three separate parts in Lego sets: head, torso and legs. The plastic is acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), a tough material that makes LEGO figures durable.
The plastic is melted into specially designed molds that produce the different parts of the minifigure. Some of the molds are also accessories such as weapons or everyday accessories. Heads and torsos always need further decoration, and sometimes the arms and legs do, too. This difficult process is why the figures are more expensive than any other Lego products. After being painted, the head is placed on the torso, the legs attached, and the arms are snapped on. The figures are finally bagged and readied for sale.
Minifigures built from special, uniquely molded pieces were first introduced in Life on Mars. Martians are composed of five tools: two pairs of double arms, a mechanical torso, a conjoined leg piece, and a head. This configuration is also used for many Star Wars Droids; Battle Droids follow the same pattern, while Super Battle Droids feature a head fixed to a torso, General Grevious has space for four arms, and IG-88 has a head constructed of other Lego pieces. Other droids, such as Droidekas, Spider Droids and Pit Droids, are constructed entirely from standard Lego pieces, yet are still generally considered minifigures. R2-D2 and other astromech droids are constructed from unique parts, with a separate top, body and legs. The robots of Exo-Force, Mars Mission commander aliens and Bionicle miniatures have a design similar to the Star Wars Battle Droids, but with separate legs, movable hands, and a head affixed to a small torso. Some female bodies also have breasts that extend from the body, while others have breasts that are merely painted on.
Hagrid, the half-giant character from the Harry Potter series, uses a larger minifigure body, with only the head being separable.
Skeletons, usually found in Castle, Pirate, and Indiana Jones sets, use the standard minifigure head, but unique torsos, arms, and legs designed to resemble a skeletal structure which was redesigned in 2007; although different, these figure parts are still detachable.
Additionally, Pirate minifigures sometimes include peg legs and hooks for hands, such as the Aquasharks and Aquraiders from Aquazone and characters in the Adventurers and Orient Expedition sets, most notably the villainous Baron character.