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Building with LEGO – customize your minifigs

by admin on October 2, 2013

in Building Techniques

(Written by Geneva – gid617)

In this series we are going over a few basic LEGO techniques and ideas for building a good LEGO MOC (My-Own-Creation). I’ll be taking examples from several LEGO builders to give you a good idea of different styles and possibilities of the techniques covered, though unless otherwise specified, the examples are mine. We’ve already covered Building with LEGO – Bases & Borders, and also Building With LEGO – Beautiful Landscaping, so now we’ll cover minifigures! We’ll talk about the art of combining minifigure parts, minifigure posing, and then other uses for basic minifigure parts. 🙂

LEGO Minifigures

LEGO MINIFIGURE COMBOS: As you are probably aware, most LEGO minifigures come ready to be assembled, fitting the environments they were designed for.  But these minifigures aren’t always the “coolest”, and sometimes (if you were trying to build a renaissance era MOC for example) the available “official” combinations don’t quite work. And on other occasions, it’s just nice to create a unique minifigure for whatever it is you have in mind. Of course, a lot of minifigure combinations are  subjective; I might think a particular minifig head is perfect for an occasion, but you might not like it at all! Still, there are a few general techniques that can be helpful.

Building with LEGO - LEGO Minifigures

Usually, taking minifigure pieces designed for one theme (for example; a LEGO Power Miner’s torso), and incorporating them into a totally different theme (say; Classic Middle-Ages Castle), doesn’t work so well. When you hit on something like that, it’s probably a good idea to ask someone else, “Does this combination look good?”. This way you can be sure you’re not just seeing what you want to see! On many occasions, tying a particular color (or two complementary colors) in both the top and bottom of a minifigure (say red pants and a red hat) helps with the overall look.

And be sure you keep an eye out for clashing printed details; having something like two belts can really mess the combination up! Don’t be afraid to take hands and arms out of torsos, or even legs out of pants (though I wouldn’t suggest pulling too hard!). And of course, there is a entire world of LEGO customization and customizers, which opens up a whole host of possibilities!

LEGO Minifigures by Julius No

Examples of excellent minifigure combos are Simon of Nalderick by Simon S., Black Falcons by Julius No, Mitgardians by Ecclesiastes, and Soldier of the Queen by Mark of Falworth.

LEGO MINIFIGURE POSING: Posing is another important aspect of minifigure usage in a MOC. Typically, a minifig (unless you’re recreating a statue) with everything all straight doesn’t look very realistic. Usually, you can plant a minifig on two studs and then twist a little, which will probably give it a bit more natural posing. It’s also unusual for someone to hold their arms straight down, so moving them up helps as well. Keeping the arms up even higher and rotating the hands slightly helps indicate that a minifig is talking.

LEGO Minifigure Posing

But a great deal more can be done to improve a minifigure’s pose than just this! As you may have noticed, it’s rather difficult to get a minifigure to hold something in both hands. And it’s virtually impossible to get both hands to touch each other – unless you take the arms out! Once both arms have been removed and attached to an accessory (a rifle, for example), they can be rotated inwards until almost in the sockets, which will keep the arms stable, as in the example below by Mark of Falworth.

LEGO Minifigures by Mark Falworth

Some people manage to achieve the same basic effect using a LEGO rubber band (I never have). When a figure is laying down (sleeping, swimming, dying, etc.), taking out arms and even sometimes legs adds articulation. Just be creative with your minifigures – there are dozens of fascinating possibilities! (For example, here I used a shovel to attach the arms and legs and rest the head.) Below is an example of an innovative minifigure pose by Digger1221, using a pair of handcuffs to attach the arms.

LEGO Minifigures by Digger1221

➡ OTHER USES FOR MINIFIGURE PARTS: Minifigure parts may seem fairly specific and difficult to use for other things, but in reality they are quite useful, with hands being the most versatile. They work for everything from coat-racks to rugs – but we’re getting ahead of ourselves here! 😀

Almost all minifigure parts (and I’m confining myself to body parts; head, torso, arms, hands, pants and legs) are useful in large brick-built animals. Heads make nice rounded ornaments, but do be careful not to expose the facial expression! Just imagine a skeleton face peeking out of your ornate balcony! Legs are also useful for furniture; they add a nice rounded touch. Below is a very clever example by mijasper.

LEGO Minifigure Parts Usage by mijasper

As I mentioned, I find minifigure hands the most useful. Yellow hands make great hay, brown ones work well as driftwood, green ones make good grass, and all different colors work well as levers. They are good for furniture that need small legs, and for all sorts of tiny designs requiring small rods. I personally have found them good for birds, greenery, roofs, hay, levers, flags, and a host of other things. Probably the use I was most pleased with was as a rug (though I got the original four hand technique here); the four hands held together well enough to let me arrange them in a design!

LEGO Minifigure Hands Usage

So these are just some creative ways LEGO minifigures can be customized and even used in unusual ways. How about you? How useful do you find minifigures? Do you enjoy creating your own unique combinations? Have you been inspired by some of the techniques and ideas above? Feel free to share your thoughts and questions in the comment section below! 😉

And you might also want to check out the following related posts:

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

~EliteBrick~ October 2, 2013 at 10:05 AM

nice post Gid! What you did with the hands is very cool. Admin when are you going to post my starwars reveiws?

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benny October 2, 2013 at 11:23 AM

im thinking of doing a post soon about the 15 years of Lego star wars. if its ok with admin and no one else has already dibs on it

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ninja of stealth October 2, 2013 at 12:32 PM

that’s a great Idea benny! I would like to read that post! 😀 the thing with the hands was cool! also the statue with the guy kicking was awesome! 😀

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admin October 2, 2013 at 1:14 PM

Hm… nice idea! I say go for it! 😀

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admin October 2, 2013 at 1:13 PM

It will likely be next week. This week is already full. There has been a lot of article submissions recently, plus also a lot of next that I had to cover. But don’t worry, I have your articles, and will get the up as soon as I can. 😉

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gid617 October 2, 2013 at 1:50 PM

Thanks! 🙂

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Chris of Yoda Archives October 2, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Great tip on removing the arms to make a minifig hold an item with both hands. I will use that sometime. I like the examples of minifig parts in building MOCs as well.

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gid617 October 2, 2013 at 1:51 PM

Thanks! Yes, I’ve found that technique useful myself!

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Chi-bacca October 2, 2013 at 1:55 PM

Wow I was thinking of doing a post like this…… Guess great minds think alike 😉

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Carbo October 2, 2013 at 3:37 PM

Great post!

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gid617 October 5, 2013 at 2:32 PM

Thanks!

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Jacob October 2, 2013 at 11:54 PM

I love some good figure concepts. If I hold take decent pictures I would do more of it, as it is relatively quick, and takes up less space than many other LEGO creations. It sometimes bothers me when people make a great mo, but the figures that go in it feel rather uninspired. Sometimes this is not an issue (say a Power Miner’s moc having a regular Power Miner minifigure) but well made figs can make a moc look much better.

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gid617 October 5, 2013 at 2:40 PM

Yes, good figure combos add a lot to a MOC. Occasionally I even base a MOC around a figure. As far as photography, practice makes progress! I was dreadful when I first started…
If you’re interested though, I could pass on a few tips others have given me.

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K October 8, 2013 at 6:30 PM

Great post. Very educational!

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Matthew Oh October 8, 2013 at 9:50 PM

Fantastic techniques, thanks for the blog post! You should do more of these Building with LEGO, more techniques and all. 😀 Great job, keep posting!

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