As much as LEGO fans love the company’s endless series of collectible minifigures, they loathe the fact they’re sold in blind generic packaging — something that’s going to become a truly random experience late next year as LEGO continues to move away from plastic packaging.
Some fans will buy a LEGO set just for the included minifigures, so back in 2010 the company capitalised on that with a line of collectible minifigures featuring unique costumes and accessories available nowhere else. To date LEGO has released 40 of these minifigure collections featuring everything from The Muppets characters to the residents of Springfield from The Simpsons, but the company hasn’t made it easy for collectors to grab just the ones they want.
The collectible minifigures have so far been only sold in small plastic bags for $US5 ($7) each with generic artwork on the front that doesn’t specify what actual figure is inside. It’s a technique known as “blind bagging” and the intention is for collectors to just keep buying pack after pack until they find the one figure they’re after. Even at just $US5 ($7) each that approach quickly gets expensive. It didn’t take long for collectors to realise a pattern of bumps on the plastic packaging correlated to what figure was inside, but eventually LEGO stopped marking the bags that way.
Collectors on the hunt for a specific minifigure now rely on a technique where they squeeze and grope the flexible plastic packaging in hopes of recognising a specific part inside, and for all of the collections released to date you can easily find “feel guides” online making it easier to determine what figure is hidden away inside each pack. But next year LEGO will be making those feel guides obsolete too.
LEGO has already made announcements that it intends to switch to 100% recyclable packaging by 2025, and it’s already starting to swap out the plastic bags used to sort the pieces in larger sets with paper alternatives. But according to Brickset, that initiative is going to eventually include the plastic packaging used for Lego’s collectible minifigures too. LEGO gave Brickset a behind-the-scenes look at the design process for the updated minifigure packaging, including several approaches that were considered but eventually abandoned, such as paper envelopes that were deemed too easy to tear open on their own during transport.
The final design for the new collectible minifigure packaging, which is expected to be introduced in September of 2023, will use a paper box with a carded front similar to how LEGO packaged the bandmates minifigures from its now defunct Vidiyo line. Although the new packaging can most definitely be squeezed, doing so will provide few clues as to what minifigure is included inside.
As the world strives to eliminate single-use plastics, LEGO’s decision to change its minifigure packaging is certainly a welcome one for the environment. But at this point why not go one step further and eliminate the “blind bagged” approach altogether? When you calculate the environmental impact of a collector driving to their local toy store on several occasions only to find themselves with five copies of the same pizza guy minifigure, there’s no denying that simply letting LEGO fans buy exactly (and only) the minifigs they actually want would be a win for the environment too.
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