|DID YOU KNOW?|
|The first two series of CMFs had barcodes printed on the bags that indicated which figure was contained within. After AFOLs started posting these online to share, LEGO changed the design of the packaging.|
Collectable Minifigures (Collectable Minifigs or CMF) is a LEGO theme that includes no sets in the traditional sense other than minifigures in blind polybags with appropriate accessories. Beginning in 2010, these limited editions aimed at the collector market have proven quite popular amongst other sub-groups, especially army builders and those looking to add previously unavailable characters to their creations.
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While this unconventional theme has no official subthemes, there are recurring themes in the characters presented that run through the different series including:
- Sports-themed characters include players of hockey, soccer, tennis, baseball as well as a figure skater, competitive skier, martial artist.
- Beach-themed characters include surfers, a lifeguard, SCUBA diver.
- Jungle: Tarzan-like Ape-man, Jane Goodall-type researcher (with chimp accessory).
- Cave Dwellers: caveman, cavewoman.
- Warriors: Spartan, Musketeer, Space Marine, Samurai, Aztec, Roman.
- Costumes: several Halloween/fancy dress costume suits have been produced including: gorilla, bunny and Godzilla.
- Band: several guitarists, bagpiper, maraca player.
These subthemes appear to be somewhat random, often overlap, and in several cases would seem to be simply providing male and female companions (ie: samurai and kimono girl, Viking warrior and female viking warrior).
One of the keys to the popularity of this theme may be the large number of elements produced from new or seldom-used molds or in new colours or with new printing. New hairpieces, heads, and headgear have been produced including parts that have been used in subsequent themes such as Lord of the Rings and Monster Hunters. New accessories have been designed included a syringe, teddy bear, hand-held fan, baseball bat and electric guitar. Re-using some elements such as an alien head from the Space Police theme or the fedora hat from Indiana Jones have been a boon for fans seeking those parts in new colours. One common element among all Collectible Minifigs is a black 3X4 stand that has 1 row of studs along the center. While several of the minifigs have appeared with odd coloured skin (green witch, white vampire, etc.) all regular minifigs have been made using yellow as opposed to any of the flesh tone colours.
To date, all series of Collectible Minifigs each contain 16 unique figures. Packages of Collectible Minifigs usually come in a case of 60. A case does not contain equal amounts of each type of figure. A case often contains a minimum of 3 of each unique minifig, and up to 6 of some. Some retailers have been knows to get cardboard displayers, which are meant to be set up vertically.
Barcodes and Dots and Feeling
The initial two series of the theme included barcodes on the packaging which identified the contents of the packet. Enterprising fans soon distributed cheat sheets of the codes online allowing those who were aware of the codes to choose which figures they wished to buy if the retailer did not object to inspection.
The company changed the packaging for the third and subsequent series which reduced this type of cherry picking but they still required a machine-readable inventory control system for internal use. The led to the creation of what some call the dot system. Small raised dots on the bottom edge of the packets - similar to Braille bumps - were created that are machine-readable but much more difficult to interpret by sight or touch.
The more common method to try to identify individual figs after the introduction of the dots is simply using a feeling for key elements within each package. Each minifigure in a series usually has a distinct element allowing for experienced fans to rapidly identify specific characters.
In 2013 Dorling Kindersley, in cooperation with LEGO, published the LEGO Minifigures Character Encylopedia. This hardcover book features illustrations and information about the first 10 series of Collectible Minifigs.