The general belief among the fan community has long been that the LEGO Group’s contract with Lucasfilm (and now Disney) has prevented it from creating – for instance – a Star Wars-themed Collectible Minifigures series. And as YouTuber MandRproductions (or Ryan) highlighted in a recent video, that’s the line the company itself has taken on multiple occasions over the past two decades.
In that same video, Ryan accused the LEGO Group of lying to fans about its contractual rights. His source claims that the company has always had the ability to sell individual Star Wars minifigures, but simply chose not to – presumably because packaging those same minifigures into expensive sets was more profitable for the LEGO Group.
Speaking to Brick Fanatics at today’s LEGO Fan Media event, however, LEGO Star Wars Design Manager Michael Lee Stockwell reaffirmed that the company is still currently ‘not in a position’ to launch individual Star Wars minifigures.
“Any time any toy company works with a licence partner, it’s through a contract,” he explains. “Simply put, the contract that we have with Lucasfilm and Disney is to develop construction toys. We can include minifigures in our construction sets, because that’s part of the play experience, but we do not have a licence to develop action figures.”
As Ryan touched on in his original video, there have been instances over the past two decades of LEGO Star Wars sets that appear – from an external perspective – to have crossed into a grey area, including constraction figures and magnets. But Creative Lead and Design Director Jens Kronvold Frederiksen says that the specifics of the contract allowed the company to create those products without stepping on the toes of any other licence partners.
“On our side [there’s] a clear rule that they have to consist of so many pieces so you can call them construction toys, and so that you can make activities,” Jens adds. “And in the past, okay, we’ve done different things [like] the magnets, but that’s merchandise. That’s not toys.”
Instead, Jens clarifies that the company’s ‘workaround’ for minifigure collectors still lies in its battle packs, even while we’re yet to see any follow-up to last year’s 75280 501st Legion Clone Troopers. The builds in those sets – whether they’re speeder bikes, turrets or anything else – are partly there to meet the requirements of the LEGO Group’s contract with Lucasfilm and Disney.
“We have a set where you get four minifigures – and preferably a trooper or something that you want to build an army of – for a relatively low price,” Jens says. “We put in the amount of construction that’s needed, both contractually, but also for making it a good toy.”
For the moment, then, the LEGO Group is holding firm on its position that it cannot sell individual Star Wars minifigures due to contractual issues. Whether that changes in 2022 – as Ryan predicts, and many fans are speculating about online – remains to be seen.