Glued magnet minifig removal!

by admin on January 1, 2011

in Magnets & Keychains

LEGO magnet-sets have been a wonderful way to acquire minifigs without having to buy a whole expensive set. Unfortunately the good times are over. From 2011 all magnet sets are being glued! :(

The minifig’s legs are glued to the magnet base. In addition, the torso/legs assembly is glued to the torso. The minifig’s heads are removable from the torso, and any crown, hair or other headgear is also removable. Weapons and other accessories are separate and removable. Because the figs are glued to the magnet-base they are no longer useful for much more than as refrigerator décor.

The LEGO Ambassador for Bricklink contacted LEGO about this and she received the following reply from a LEGO-rep:

“All Extended Line minifigure magnet sets will as of Jan 1st 2011 be glued. Based on new requirements, the magnet base and the minifigures will have to be permanently fixed together on LEGO Star Wars magnet sets.

To ensure a consistent consumer experience across all LEGO minifigure magnet sets we have chosen to permanently fix the minifigure to the magnet base on all magnet sets moving forward from Jan 1st 2011 (incl. Pharaoh’s Quest launching Dec 1st).

This decision has been carefully considered and was not taken easily as we know that many consumers will obviously not like this change.”

Of course LEGO-fans are not at all happy about this change and have been trying to rescue their figs from their magnet shackles. So far I have seen people trying to pry off figs with a hobby-knife or chisel. This method will separate the minifig from the magnet base, but unfortunately it also tends to break the back of the legs.

I decided to spend a bit of time myself trying to find a solution that is both safe for the minifig and the person using the method. (Please read our Tutorials Disclaimer for your safety here.) I will start with the process that I found working, and below that I will list my failed attempts for your further amusement (and horror!). 😉

1. THE HOT WATER PROCESS – this works!: Originally I thought LEGO is using some kind of strong glue, like Superglue, and tried methods that I knew could work for glue. However none of these worked. (See failed attempts.) Then I did a little research on the methods LEGO used to glue parts.

I have discovered that LEGO is not using glue at all, but a solvent, that actually loosens the surface of the ABS plastic and allows the molecules to combine. Once the solvent evaporates, it leaves behind a cleanly fused surface with no residue at all.

Reading further on the subject, I found that LEGO has been using two types of solvents. One is called MEK (methyl-ethyl-ketone) and at some point they switched to GBL (gamma-butyrolactone). I’m no chemist, so I had no idea what these are, but I read that both of them are water soluble at certain temperatures. So, I thought to try loosening the seal between the minifig and the magnet by hot water.

The challenge is that ABS plastic itself has a melting point, which is 176 Fahrenheit (80 Celsius). So, I had to make sure I don’t cross over that temperature.

• Stove
• Medium size pot with water (for heating)
• Strainer
• Cooking Thermometer
• Cold water (for cooling)
• Watch (for measuring time)
• Kitchen mitts or cloth (to keep your hands from burning)

Remove minifig accessories (tools/weapons, headgear and head)
Bend minifig at the waist so it is in a sitting position (this gives the best angle for the hot bath, and also helps to lift it out of the water)
Lift minifigs hands up, like it is reaching out for something (this also assures the correct angle)

1. Fill pot with water
2. Place strainer on top of the pot
3. Make sure the water level is above the strainer by about an inch
4. Place Cooking Thermometer in pot
5. Heat water to 160 Fahrenheit (71 Celsius) (I found this to be a perfect temperature for the process. Not too hot to damage the plastic, but hot enough to loosen the seal.)
6. Turn off heat (if you have an electric stove, it is best to take the pot off the burner)
7. Place minifig in hot water and leave it there for 5 minutes
8. Remove minifig from hot water (just grabbing it by the neck-stud works great; the water is really not that hot)
9. Hold minifig/magnet assembly in kitchen-mitts with one hand and bend the torso straight back as much as you can (but gently!) to see if the seal is starting to loosen. WARNING! Do not try to wiggle the torso left and right! This will loosen the leg-pins and you will have a fig with very loose legs! ONLY bend the torso straight back!
10. As you bend the torso backwards against the extension plate on the magnet you will see the seal getting loose. At this point the fig may pop right off.
11. If it doesn’t, DO NOT force the fig to come off! Just put it back in the hot water and leave it there for another couple of minutes.
12. Take the fig out again and bend the torso backwards. By this time the fig should either pop right off, or the seal should be very loose.
13. If the fig doesn’t pop off, but the seal is very loose, gently insert a kitchen-knife in the gap between the back of the fig’s legs and the magnet-base. (The fig is fused ONLY at the back of the legs to the studs on the magnet. NOT at the bottom of the feet.)
14. Once the fig is off, run it under cold water to cool it off. WARNING! Don’t move the legs and arms until the fig is completely cooled! You can damage the joints and they will become very loose!
15. DONE! :)

• This method DOES NOT damage the plastic, as we are staying below its melting point. It also won’t damage the print on the minifig.
• Once the minifig is off, on the back of the legs you will see where the fig was fused to the magnet is kind of rough. There is not much we can do about that. But at least we have rescued the minifig from its bondage! (I would not recommend sanding this area to smooth it as I have read that the fusing process makes the ABS plastic more brittle. The back of the legs are already very thin, so smoothing them down may weaken them further.)
• This process may also release the bond between the torso and the leg-assembly. On one of my figs the torso just slipped right off. On another it became loose but didn’t fully come off. I didn’t want to push my luck. 😉

NOW THE HORROR STORIES FOR YOUR EDUCATION AND AMUSEMENT! (In each method listed below I note the process, time elapsed, and the result.)

Method: full immersion
Temperature: normal room temp.
Time: 1 hour
Results: NONE
Adverse effects on plastic: NONE VISIBLE
Adverse effects on print: NONE VISIBLE

Method: full immersion
Temperature: normal room temp.
Time: 1 hour
Results: NONE
Adverse effects on plastic: NONE VISIBLE
Adverse effects on print: NONE VISIBLE

(Isopropyl Alcohol 50% by Volume)
Method: full immersion
Temperature: normal room
Time: 1 hour
Results: NONE
Adverse effects on plastic: NONE VISIBLE
Adverse effects on print: NONE VISIBLE

Method: full immersion
Temperature: warm water
Time: overnight (8 hours)
Results: NONE
Adverse effects on plastic: NONE VISIBLE
Adverse effects on print: NONE VISIBLE

(Baby Oil)
Method: full immersion
Temperature: normal room
Time: 1 hour
Results: NONE
Adverse effects on plastic: NONE VISIBLE
Adverse effects on print: NONE VISIBLE

Method: full immersion
Temperature: normal room
Time: 1 hour
Results: NONE
Adverse effects on plastic: NONE VISIBLE
Adverse effects on print: NONE VISIBLE

Method: full immersion
Temperature: normal room
Time: 1 hour
Results: NONE
Adverse effects on plastic: NONE VISIBLE
Adverse effects on print: NONE VISIBLE

9. THE WD-40 PROCESS – fail!:
Method: full immersion
Temperature: normal room
Time: 1 hour
Results: NONE
Adverse effects on plastic: NONE VISIBLE
Adverse effects on print: NONE VISIBLE

10. THE ACETONE PROCESS – badly fail!:
(Regular Nail Polish Remover by Equate)
Method: full immersion
Temperature: normal room
Adverse effects on plastic: MELTED
Adverse effects on print: MELTED/CAME OFF (See below:)

In summary, I would hope that LEGO will come up with another solution besides fusing minifigs to magnets to meet licensing regulations. In the meantime you can give your minifigs a nice hot bath! And if you come up with something better feel free to share it here! Oh, and while you are at it, you may also want to read about removing LEGO minifigs from keychains.

I have also written a guide with a list of all glued and non-glued magnet sets to help shoppers identify them easier.  Read here: Guide to Glued & Non-Glued Magnet Minifigs! Hope this helps! 😉


{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous January 2, 2011 at 12:40 PM

I’d like to thank you spending your time and money to find a method to de-glue the magnets


admin January 2, 2011 at 1:13 PM

Thanks! I hope my research helps someone else! 😉


Jammiedodger714 January 2, 2011 at 1:24 PM

Great! Thanks for that!
Does the water technique work with keychains too? My Rex’s head is glued inside the helmet, and I want it out!


admin January 2, 2011 at 1:51 PM

I assume it would work as the hot water loosens the seal (assuming that LEGO uses the same solvents for keychains).
Unfortunately I do not have any keychains so I cannot try it out. Maybe you can try and let us know? 😉
I think the challenge would be how to grab the head and pull it out of the helmet. You would have to wiggle it out somehow.


fff January 7, 2011 at 8:06 AM

nice investigation & discovery!! you’re the best!! :-)


admin January 7, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Thanks, fff! Also, thanks for the link to your blog! 😉


Max&Otto January 8, 2011 at 11:03 PM

The best way to remove key chain pins from minifigures is to carefully heat up the tips of a pair of needle nose pliers over a gas flame, grab the pin with the pliers and carefully pull. You might need to try a couple of times until the pliers are just the right temperature, but the pin will eventually come off without any damage to the minifigure – except of course for the hole for the pin…


admin January 9, 2011 at 12:28 PM

Thanks for that tip! I’m planning to write a post about removing pins from magnet figs and I haven’t heard of your method before. Unfortunately I don’t have any magnet figs now, but as soon as I get one I will try your suggestion. Thanks again! :)


She-Devil January 10, 2011 at 10:01 PM

I had a few keychains I just pulled with a regular pliers & the pin came out very easily. MY question has anyone tried melting or found some substance to make it look like it was never there?
Thanks for the info on the freedom of magnets.


admin January 10, 2011 at 10:07 PM

I’m ordering some keychains right now to do some experiments! (I like to try things myself, so I know it works, how it works, and what challenges can come up.) The question you raised about making the hole “disappear” is great, and I will try to address that.
Personally I would not try melting the plastic. What I have seen people do is using putty or even glue to fill the hole and then paint it. You can achieve amazing results with a little paint! 😉


JoshCap December 1, 2011 at 1:47 PM

a lot of woodburning sets have a point tool of some kind. That works fabulously. You don’t have to be strong. My kids don’t care about the holes, so I haven’t tried to patch them, but I’d be excited to try someone’s solution.


Octopunk January 10, 2011 at 1:23 AM

Wow! Fantastically thorough article. Your approach is admirably methodical, and the acetone punchline was hilarious. Thanks. I’m going to have to try this.

I used to work in a model shop where the same type of solvent was used. We called it “juice” but I don’t know what it was really called. I’ve never heard of a counter to it. From my experience removing keychain minifig headgear from heads, it’s the same stuff, and it doesn’t respond well to force.

Thanks to Max&Otto for their tip, as well.


admin January 10, 2011 at 3:31 PM

Thanks for telling us about the “juice”! Interesting!
BTW, someone just sent me this video about removing keychain pins. It is similar to Max&Otto’s method. looks super easy! See it here: Minifig Keychain Pin Removal


Fuffernoose January 12, 2011 at 10:19 PM

Excellent! Tried it this afternoon on two of the Pharaoh’s Quest figures and it worked! Thanks so much for the tip. I wasn’t able to get the torsos off though. But, hey, I’ll take having the figures free. I was so dismayed to hear that Lego had decided to start doing this. I’m so tired of having to resort to eBay and paying $$$ for some of the more rare minifigures. Now that I know this works I’ll definitely use this method again. Cool tip about the keychain figures too. I have only been able to get the rod out of one with pliers so I can take the head off. I’ll have to see about trying this way next time. Thanks again for doing all the research!


admin January 12, 2011 at 10:29 PM

Yay! More minifigs liberated! I’m happy for your success! Thanks for sharing! :)
As far as the torso coming off, I found that sometimes it just slips right off, sometimes it doesn’t. I didn’t want to force it either.
I’m getting some keychains right now to try the methods recommend in the video and by Max&Otto. I will do a post on it to report back with the result.


Jargon January 18, 2011 at 3:43 PM

While I’ve been removing the pins from keychain minifigures for years now, I have had no success whatsoever removing the torsos from the legs.
Unfortunately, the 160 degrees method didn’t seem to make any difference for me. That being said, I’d love to see if you have any tricks up your sleeve on the subject.


Garth Danielson January 20, 2011 at 3:26 PM

Hi – This is a great post. I passed it along to the guys (and those few gals) in our local LUG – TwinLUG.

I’m thinking I want to try this. All I need to do is go get a strainer and some mini-magnets.



admin January 20, 2011 at 9:22 PM

Garth, give it a try! Your minifigs will appreciate being freed! 😉
If you, or anyone in your LUG have a question about the process just let me know. But it is pretty easy. 😀


Scott January 29, 2011 at 10:58 AM

You rock! I just liberated three Pharaoh’s Quest minifigs for my son. Your instructions were spot on and there is virtually no damage to the figure. The only thing I did different was to put them in the refrigerator to cool them down thinking it might help to keep the joints nice and tight. Thanks!


admin January 29, 2011 at 11:02 AM

Yay! More minifigs liberated! Great idea about sticking them in the fridge to cool! I haven’t thought of that! 😉


Chris January 29, 2011 at 4:28 PM

Thanks for the magnet tip…my son loves the figures, and I thought that it would be easy to disassemble those expensive magnets to get the guys he wanted. Poor kids wanted the magnet removed, and it was clear that they didn’t pop off. Found your site and followed your chemistry experiment, and pop, off they came !! Thanks so much !


admin January 29, 2011 at 5:19 PM

Thanks for sharing, Chris! I’m glad your son got the figs he wanted! 😀

Reply February 5, 2011 at 1:03 AM

Hej Maxx,
very great job you did. I bought the first Magnet set’s for my son this week (2. Feb 2011) and read after the buy there terrible things about THE GLUE. After I wake up after the shock I looked for a solution what to do. I found on “” the link to your site. Really great job! But I hope that I’ll get the older Star Wars sets that are not glued.
I’m an “old man” but I’ll tell my son that and what I found at your page. He sall tell his friens and their parents.
Greetz –

Reply February 5, 2011 at 1:12 AM

oh my god – some mistakes in writing. Sorry but I can’t edit the written things :-( Typing is not as easy as it seems :-) ….


admin February 5, 2011 at 11:14 AM

No problem about the typos! 😉
I’m glad I could help you guys! If you bought a magnet set (I assume online), and it is a 2010 release, then you will be good. They won’t be glued.
BTW, this post was not written by Maxx. Maxx is the resident color guru, so he will cover colors for me. 😀
And yes, spread the word! We gotta liberate those poor figs! :)


Chris Christian March 9, 2011 at 11:05 PM

I just replicated the glue removal process for the Atlantis Magnet Set (853087) with partial success. The heating process did very little overall to loosen the plastic and the knife was required to free all three minifigures. This worked fine with the caveat that using a very sharp knife can lead to unintended consequences of cutting off the pips on the back of the magnet and getting them stuck inside of the legs. I would recommend using a dull knife for this step of the process.


admin March 9, 2011 at 11:22 PM

Chris, thanks for sharing your results! :)
Is it possible that the figs may have not stayed in the water long enough, or the temperature was not hot enough?
I have tried the method on several of my magnet figs and it always worked. But I have not tried any of the Atlantis figs.
Perhaps LEGO changed the solvent to fuse the figs to the magnets? Or perhaps they use different solvents at different locations? These are questions to ponder. 😉
I’m not using the knife to cut away the figs at all. I’m only using it to give a little nudge to a fig that won’t fall off by itself. Any other thin object would work just as well. It doesn’t have to be sharp.
I’m glad though that you were able to free your figs one way or an other! 😀


Chris Christian March 9, 2011 at 11:27 PM

Thanks for all the effort spent on researching the best way to separate the minifigures from the the magnet. For an idea of what ended up going wrong with the Crab Warrior due to the use of a very sharp knife, I took pictures at most steps along the way that can be seen here:


admin March 9, 2011 at 11:34 PM

Chris, looks like you did a good job at the end! But yep, that’s a big ol’ knife you got there! 😀
BTW, I love your Mandalorians photo! 😉


Steve February 4, 2012 at 7:06 PM

I am having trouble with the atlantis minifigs as well. I got them off the bases, but the torso will not separate. Any ideas?


admin February 5, 2012 at 10:46 AM

Steve, as I mentioned in the tutorial, the torso may or may not slip off depending on how much solvent is used. The inside of the torso has so many attachment points that if the solvent got deep into the plastic the torso may not separate. I would suggest not to force it as you can damage the internal support system of the torso making it pretty much useless after you separate it. If it comes off great, if not, just let it be. 😉


Wilson March 10, 2011 at 11:04 AM

COOL! This is so cool!!! I was like ‘WHAT!?’ when i heard and saw the new glued minifigures on those magnets. Your efforts are greatly appreciated by Lego fans! I’m definitely disappointed by the ‘scars’ left behind after rescuing those minifigures, but well, its better than nothing right? I haven’t try using this method so, i’m curious about this matter, does the scar affect those holes at the hind of the legs and the bottom? Like maybe, not allowing studs to enter the holes of the leg of those minifigs and hold there just like a normal minifig?



admin March 10, 2011 at 11:20 AM

Wilson, yep, I think this was a bad move from LEGO! Once fans realize the magnets are glued they just won’t buy them. Expect them to be on sale soon! 😀
The “scars” on the legs depend on how much solvent LEGO injected to “glue” the fig. On some figs there will be more, on some less. It basically just makes the surface of the legs a bit rough and unfinished looking, and probably also makes the plastic weaker.
It seems like the “scars” show up most on black legs the most because the shiny-ness of the black surface. On lighter colored legs it is hardly noticable.
I have not noticed it effecting the usability of the holes.
Also, please note that the solvent is injected behind the legs, not under the feet. So the feet of the figs are not glued, therefore not effected.
If I really-really want a fig in perfect condition, I would just buy the set, or get the fig from Bricklink, even if it is more expensive. Removing the figs from magnets however gives you some cheap figs great for play! 😉


Kristy March 12, 2011 at 6:17 PM

Awesome! The hot water trick worked like a charm. 6 minutes and a little prying with a thin knife!!! Thank you soooo much. Really appreciate your research!! Hope LEGO doesnt make it harder eventually!


admin March 12, 2011 at 9:46 PM

Yay! More minifigs liberated! Thanks for sharing your results! 😀


Bob March 14, 2011 at 10:10 PM

who knows if this works for the atlantis (2011) magnets?


admin March 14, 2011 at 10:12 PM

Bob, they should be the same. 😉


carla March 25, 2011 at 5:19 PM

I just tried it with the new star wars minifigures. I used a thermometer to be sure about the temp. The first 5 minutes, it didn’t even look like anything was happening. I put it in another 5. I still had to use a flat butter knife to get them to pop off, but they came off just fine.
Thanks for the help!


admin March 25, 2011 at 5:29 PM

Carla, thanks for sharing yoru experiment! I think how easily the figs pop off depends on how much solvents LEGO uses. I have seen some figs have barely any, and some has quite a bit.
It should not be a problem to keep the figs in the water a few minutes longer. The important thing is to keep the temperature below the ABS melting point. 😉
I have found that on most of the figs I have to use a knife also to give them that final gentle nudge. 😀


Brody and Brock March 26, 2011 at 3:56 PM

Thanks. we appreciate the tip. trying it now.


admin March 26, 2011 at 4:58 PM

Brody & Brock, good luck with your project! Let me and other readers know how it went! 😉


Betsi Lujan April 2, 2011 at 7:44 PM

Absolutely worked! Went to the new opening of Legoland Discovery in Grapevine and $200 later, lots of hot water and a fingernail file (hey we are stuck in a hotel…I had to use what was available) they totally popped off! Thank you SO much!


admin April 2, 2011 at 10:10 PM

Hey, Betsi, thanks for sharing your adventures un-gluing you figs at a hotel! LOL! It must have been interesting! 😀
And nail-file, eh? I would not have thought of that! But whatever works! 😉


Andy April 3, 2011 at 4:45 AM

Thanks for the great blog! I tried using pliers to pull the posts from key chains but could not do it. I guess I’m not strong enough. I tried to think of a way build a mechanical tool and found a decent way to do it buy taking apart a chalking gun. I attach the pin to one end using wires and I tie the head/body to the other end of the gun. Pulling the trigger a few times frees the pin ! Good luck. Andy


admin April 4, 2011 at 11:32 AM

Andy, LOL! That is ingenious! 😀


JJ April 6, 2011 at 12:24 PM

Thanks for the tip. The figures all came of the magnets easily, but the torsos wouldn’t budge. Tried soaking them for 10 extra minutes, raising the temp of the water a bit, but no luck. At least they are off of the magnets and my son can play with them! Thanks so much for your experiment and blog.


admin April 6, 2011 at 12:35 PM

JJ, thanks for sharing your results! While some of the legs just slipped off for me, most of them wouldn’t budge. I think it depends on how much solvent was used. I didn’t mind it so much though, so I just let them have their legs. 😉


Stephanie April 9, 2011 at 3:24 PM

THANKS!!! My 7 year old was crushed when he bought the robbers magnet set to play with and couldn’t get them off the magnet. They are now free. At least until he apprehends them and puts them in Lego jail. 😉


admin April 10, 2011 at 1:31 PM

LOL! Yeah, after all, they are robbers on the run! Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to let them go free! 😉


Robert April 11, 2011 at 7:02 AM

Hi, Just got the Yoda, Mace and Dooku set and realized that they were bonded onto the magnet, at first I got in a bit of a flap and went straight to Eurobricks, where someone gave me the reference to you, I just read through it all and I think I’m gonna try it, So I’ll add another comment when I’m done, (Really want yoda to be free from 2011 evil plan!)


Robert April 11, 2011 at 7:13 AM

Oh, Do you know if it would work with yoda, because it’s his feet that are stuck not the back of his legs (I think they changed him because of his height)


admin April 11, 2011 at 9:50 AM

Robert, yes, Yoda has the shorter legs, so he is placed on two small bricks and the bottom of his feet is stuck to those. I do not have a Yoda magnet, but I’m pretty sure the process would work the same way. In fact, it should be easier as Yoda’s legs are more sturdy then regular LEGO legs (no joints to worry about).

The hot water should loosen the solvent, and the minifig should come off. You may need to use a sharp flat object (like a knife) to pop it off, but instead of inserting it behind the minifig, you would need to do it under the feet.

Just be patient. Do not jerk the fig to try to get it off, but let it sit in the hot water, even put it back if necessary, and let the solvent loosen before taking the fig off.

Let me me know how it went! 😉


Rich and Harvey April 11, 2011 at 7:57 AM

Hey there,

“New requirements” as in “Lego want people to spend £30 – £280 on spaceships because they *know* kids really love the figures, and they’ll be doing themselves out of a ton of money if they sell them separately”, I’m guessing.

I bought several sets of minifigures at Legoland yesterday and didn’t spot the minute line of copy on the backs of the packets informing me that they’re glued to the bases now. Cue one very frustrated and upset 7 year-old who just wanted to play with his new toys during the journey home.

But now they’ve all been liberated after a few minutes in a recently-boiled kettle. So thanks a million (and I mean a million) from both of us!


admin April 11, 2011 at 10:07 AM

Rick & Harvey, thanks for the report! I’m glad it worked for you too! 😀

My understanding is that the reason LEGO started gluing the magnets has to do with a licensing issue with the Star Wars frenchise and an other toy manufacturer.

This other toy company (I believe it is Hasbro – if not, someone can correct me) has the license for making Star Wars action figures, and LEGO has the license for Star Wars building toys. This other toy manufacturer argued that the LEGO magnet sets are not building toys and crossed the line into their territory; action figures.

As a response, instead of just completely stopping to make magnet sets, LEGO responded by gluing the figs to the magnets, this way making them decorative/gift items, instead of action figures.

And because now they glued the Star Wars figs, to avoid confusion amongst their fans, they started gluing all magnet figs even where there is no licensing issue (like the city robbers Stephanie mentioned above).

Anyhow, that’s a little bit of the history behind this madness. 😉


Robert April 11, 2011 at 1:56 PM

Wow! It worked, I got all of them off perfectly, One of their legs got a big rough but as you said, Theres not much we can do about it, But now I’ve got them I’m really happy, the Yoda came off even easier than the other two, Before I came here this morning, I was actually considering either selling or binning them! Thank you so much for finding a good solution to Lego’s, rather annoying new system,

Thanks again,



admin April 11, 2011 at 1:59 PM

You are welcome, Robert! I’m glad it worked for you! :)


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