The LEGO Group’s designers have revealed why so many of the characters in 71031 Marvel Studios Collectible Minifigures have ‘happy, smiley faces’ – often in direct contrast to their on-screen counterparts.
Across all 12 characters in the latest series of Collectible Minifigures – which lands on shelves in September – the Marvel heroes and villains wear a range of facial expressions, from The Scarlet Witch’s cheery grin and The Winter Soldier’s smirk to Zombie Captain America’s snarling growl and The Vision’s utter indifference.
Some of those designs have attracted criticism, however, for not feeling entirely appropriate for their character: The Scarlet Witch wasn’t always a bundle of joy in WandaVision, while Sylvie also didn’t spend a lot of time smiling in Disney+’s Loki. But as the Minifigures team explained to Brick Fanatics at this year’s LEGO Fan Media event, it’s worth remembering that these are LEGO toys.
“We don’t want everyone being super angry,” designer Mark Tranter explains. “Not everyone can have fighting faces, because that’s not great for play. As a rule of thumb, we like to do a happy, smiley face and then sometimes an angry or determined face.”
Plenty of characters across the LEGO superhero universe – beyond 71031 Marvel Studios, and even beyond Marvel itself – have double-sided heads, which allows the designers to include both expressions. But to avoid any awkward questions from their fellow minifigures, their hairpiece or headgear needs to mask the alternate expression on the back of their head.
“Sometimes they can only have one side of the face,” Mark says. “Captain America only has one side because the new hairpiece doesn’t cover the back, so we’ve just gone for a happy hero face.”
That presumably also explains why Blade looks uncharacteristically jolly in 76178 Daily Bugle. The enormous LEGO Marvel exclusive is available to order now, while 71031 Marvel Studios will follow on September 1. For more on the latest series of superhero minifigures, learn how the design team had to follow a strict, self-imposed rule for The Vision.