LEGO Minifigures 71034 Series 23 contains 12 different character designs, half of which take inspiration from end-of-year festivities. Christmas is represented with the Christmas Elf, Snowman, Reindeer Costume, Sugar Fairy and Nutcracker, while Thanksgiving has a Turkey Costume offered up. The remaining six characters are a real mixture of themes, making the complete line-up of Series 23 quite an unusual and somewhat imbalanced collection.
It doesn’t have to matter if half of this series follows a definite and deliberate theme, and half definitely doesn’t. It could be a recipe for the best of both worlds, creatively and collectively, if it wasn’t for the LEGO Group’s insistence on staying the course with costumed minifigures, and more so in this series than perhaps ever before. A staggering eight minifigures in Series 23 are costumed, and as charming and funny as such characters can be in minifigure form, we’ve increasingly grown tired of how a clever novelty – which was once just one part of a wider Minifigures creative direction – has increasingly become a worn-out trope that’s seemingly now central to the theme’s identity.
Individually, each of these minifigures lives up to the billing we would expect of any Minifigures character (bar maybe Popcorn Costume Guy, sorry dude), bathed in detail and colour and completed with a unique accessory, dual-moulded arms or legs or a new head piece. Additionally, Minifigures as a theme still offers a collection of characters like nowhere else in the LEGO portfolio. Yet in leaning so hard into costumed character territory in this latest line-up, the worlds of play that each series used to open up continue to become ever fewer, and the ways in which these series are collectible beyond the one copy of each are just as much reduced.
As a result, the collective that is Series 23 feels like only half a Minifigures series, and one of the blandest so far.
— LEGO Minifigures 71034 Series 23 details —
Price per minifigure: £3.49 / $4.99 / €3.99 Pieces: Varied Minifigures: 1 per pack
— Where to buy LEGO Minifigures 71034 Series 23 —
LEGO Minifigures 71034 Series 23 launched on September 1, 2022 and is available to purchase from LEGO.com, in LEGO Stores and across various physical retailers. In addition, boxes of six randomly-selected Minifigures packs are available to purchase, but at no wider saving to the individual RRP per pack of £3.49 / $4.99 / €3.99.
— LEGO Minifigures 71034 Series 23 characters —
First up in Series 23 comes the Nutcracker, one of six festive creations for this latest collection, complete with a walnut ready to crack. As a minifigure, it’s bright, bold and, frankly, a little weird. The design works very well for a nutcracker, ensuring this sits just perfectly in any Christmas collection.
That it works so perfectly in every detail as a nutcracker character, though, rather limits any play or collectability value for those not necessarily looking to build out their Christmas collection. There’s little wiggle room for this minifigure to be anything else, in totality or broken into its various parts, which is something worth considering for anyone who ends up with a double of this guy.
The face’s blushed cheeks block its versatility anywhere else, unless you were after a slightly embarrassed pirate or musketeer, while the uniform is just ever so slightly too junior in design to perhaps otherwise cross over into a military uniform. Minifigures are in blind bags and soon moving to blind boxes – doubles are going to be increasingly inevitable, so versatility of pieces for minifigures you can’t ‘army build’ with is important. Nutcracker feels like one example of a missed opportunity to be anything other than the one specific thing. It’s another character from modern Minifigures that is very specific, as we spoke about in our review of Series 22…
Next up is the Sugar Fairy, presumably based on the Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker. Akin to the Nutcracker, design here is bright, fun, vibrant, and quite literal – hundreds and thousands on her cheeks and shoes and a candy cane speak to that. Those details – aside or included – break it from the same specificity of the Nutcracker minifigure, with more versatility and novelty on offer overall.
Green Dragon Costume Girl
The Red Dragon Costume minifigure feels like it only came out the other month, yet it actually released four years ago, meaning Green Dragon Costume Girl may find a whole new audience in 2022. It’s a well-designed and quite LEGO-meta minifigure, green even more so than red too – but for anyone who had the previous version of this character, the design on the new one is completely identical in print, just on a different base colour and with a different minifigure head inside. The same but different, or rather, different but the same.
Ignore our complaints around costumed minifigures for one minute, because somewhat unironically, one of the best minifigures of recent times and of this series is indeed a costumed minifigure. The Snowman design here is lovingly simple yet brilliantly effective, with a head piece that reveals it’s a costume rather than a real snowman. Place this guy in any snowy scene and he’s just perfect. Within the simplicity of the design and the smartness of how he has been realised, this stands out as an example where character selection trumps any other kind of innovation in the Minifigures theme.
And yes, the carrot nose comes out to reveal a rather unsettling eye looking through at you.
Reindeer Costume Girl
The Reindeer Costume Girl closely resembles previous animal costume-themed minifigures like the Giraffe Guy from The LEGO Movie 2 series, or the Llama Costume Girl from Series 20. It’s cute, nicely designed and in this case with a neat new minifigure head print with gap tooth, but overall very, very familiar to a lot of characters we have had in recent years in the Minifigures theme.
This isn’t the first Christmas Elf we have had in LEGO form, but there’s enough that’s different about this one to make it a worthwhile addition to the Christmas collection, from the head and hat piece to the costume with more detailed leg printing, to the charming little snow globe with gingerbread house inside.
Turkey Costume Guy is as ridiculous and funny as you would expect a minifigure dressed up in a turkey costume to look like, thanks in no small part to the very large tail feathers piece that connects at the minifigure’s hips. As with most costumed minifigures, the strength to this design is in the novelty of it, crossed with the situational comedy of fitting it into various LEGO scenes. Which is also why these costumed minifigures are also a bit of a drag, both in play and creativity, because there’s not much else to do with them.
Cardboard Robot Girl
The Cardboard Robot Girl character is one of the more flexible, nicely-done costumed minifigures in Series 23, thanks to vibrant colours across its design, and a versatile torso underneath the cardboard robot headpiece. There are also nice touches across that headpiece and both arms to give the robot that handmade feel, while the face print mimicking the clenched teeth look of the robot is an excellent touch, and a more-than-welcome new expression for the minifigure collection. There’s enough here to admire and to adapt elsewhere, to give the Cardboard Robot Girl wider appeal than most other costumed minifigures in this collection.
Popcorn Costume Guy is perhaps the most disappointing of the costumed minifigures in Series 23, which is some disrespect given that there are seven others to compare him to. Why? Because the head/body piece mould is, quite unusually for LEGO, not as detailed or ‘accurate’ as it could be, with popcorn kernels that are, as just2good also remarked in his first impressions below, way too big and quite misshapen.
Combined with the plain torso underneath and lack of accessory, and there’s not much you can do with this little guy.
The most familiar-looking minifigure from Series 23 is likely the Wolf Costume Guy, for just how many wolf, werewolf and similar characters we have had in previous series of Minifigures, or so it at least seems. There’s nothing particularly wrong with his outfit, with the fur protruding out from the overalls for a clever detail, and a nice printed sack for him to hold. But, again, like all the costumed minifigures here, cute and funny doesn’t translate into the best potential for play and creativity. Where’s this minifigure going once you’ve had a good look at him, switched around his nice face prints and maybe reassigned that sack to somewhere else in your collection?
This costumed minifigure comes with the benefit of having a nicely-detailed and themed minifigure design that is entirely separate to the costume that he comes with. The boat piece is also perhaps the most unique-looking novelty piece from 71034 Series 23 and does get you thinking whether a mid-scale boat could be completed out of that, and then further to that a whole nautical scene. It’s entirely separate to the minifigure it comes with, leaving the character in a neat captain’s outfit, complete with printed cuffs and hat. If there’s one minifigure to connect what Minifigures used to be with what it is now, it’s the Ferry Captain. This may not be the first minifigure you gravitate towards, but it’s an underrated gem of the collection.
In addition, it’s probably no coincidence that the Ferry Captain strongly resembles in appearance Edward Smith, who served as captain on RMS Titanic.
Knight of the Yellow Castle
Part of why this plethora of costumed minifigures is frustrating is that the Minifigures team clearly know what they are doing, as evident in 71034 Series 23’s standout character, Knight of the Yellow Castle. Here’s a modernised version of a minifigure that appeared in the very first Castle set from 1978, 375 LEGO Castle, dripping in all that 2022’s minifigure design can offer, from more accessories than the character can carry (including a printed shield and adorable hobby horse), to a subtle yet neat torso design hidden under a printed armour piece. There’s much to enjoy here from a character that opens up a new world of creativity for younger LEGO fans within the Castle realm, all the while tapping into the nostalgia that older LEGO fans will feel in the year that marks the LEGO Group’s 90th anniversary.
Two thoughts spring to mind: one, why couldn’t the entire series have been creations like this, to really mark that anniversary in style? Two, with his plain torso, no accessories and freakishly disproportioned popcorn kernels, Popcorn Costume Guy must be furious with how much love has gone into the knight.
As we said at the top – there’s plenty to admire and enjoy about each minifigure in Series 23. Yet, for so many being of the one type of minifigure, and that one type being the least versatile in play, creativity, collectability and parting out, as a total series, it just doesn’t work.
— LEGO Minifigures 71034 Series 23 price —
LEGO Minifigures 71034 Series 23 retails for £3.49 in the UK, $4.99 in the US and from €3.99 in Europe (per blind bag). For how many other sets have been impacted by price rises in 2022, at least the minifigures have stayed at this current level for this latest series.
The LEGO Group fairly recently switched down to 12 characters per Minifigures series, in part to be able to offer a greater number of novelty items per minifigure. That quality and investment is certainly visible in each character in Series 23, but with too many costumed minifigures in the line-up, this is perhaps the most repetitive series in recent times – and the one with the least potential for play and collectability. Case in point, £3.49 for the Knight of the Yellow Castle feels like a bargain, £7 for two just the same. £3.49 for Popcorn Costume Guy or Green Dragon Costume Girl seems okay-ish, but then £7 for two of those and it becomes just annoying very fast.
— LEGO Minifigures 71034 Series 23 pictures —
— LEGO Minifigures 71034 Series 23 pros and cons —
LEGO Minifigures 71034 Series 23 is a weird one for a number of reasons. Half the collection follows a specific theme and half does not. Likewise, three-quarters of the collection follows the same template of design – costumed minifigures – which is one of the longest-running and most familiar (and perhaps now overused) character types in the Minifigures theme.
One by one, there’s no denying the value and novelty appeal to each of the 12 minifigures in Series 23, through excellent details and that same high design expertise that Minifigures showcases as a theme better than any other.
Yet, as a collection of 12 characters all in the same line-up, 71034 Series 23 is the most repetitive and uninspired Minifigures series so far. Costumed minifigures are as limited as they are novel – they each speak to that same, funny, cute, meta identity, but it’s one that is barely transferable to anything else in the wider world of LEGO. Minifigures as a theme used to be packed full of interesting, new and highly collectible characters, each with unique identity but that offered inspiration to new worlds of play and imagination. Where are you imagining taking eight costumed minifigures in 2022? And the doubles you get along the way?
|Same high-quality design for each minifigure||Too many of one type of minifigure|
|Knight of the Yellow Castle is everything perfect with Minifigures||Costumed minifigures are the least collectible characters|
|Ferry Captain is an underrated gem and perfect Titanic tie-in||Doubles of many of these characters will be useless|
|The Snowman is the only costumed minifigure we need||A lot of the minifigure faces are surprisingly similar|
— Alternatives to LEGO Minifigures 71034 Series 23 —
Due to the festive slant of LEGO Minifigures 71034 Series 23, there are actually a few decent alternatives to consider, including the likes of 60352 LEGO City Advent Calendar or 41706 LEGO Friends Advent Calendar. You can also now build your own minifigure online, should you want to have a go at creating something with broader play appeal than a costumed minifigure.