Minifigure hair is a fascinating study. One would be hard pressed to find a more potent example of how much the LEGO Group has shifted its focus to minifigure based sets in recent years than to look at the history of the hair components that have graced the heads of the plastic populace. For this week’s Origins we are going to take a look back at the hairdos sported by minifigures through the decades, and find the very first one.
Style was hard to come by in the early days of the LEGO minifigure, but today the little fellows are spoiled for choice. 33 new hair styles, either new colourings of existing elements or new parts entirely, have been released in 2016. To put that in perspective, it initially took 34 years for there to be that many variations in hair; it was not until 2009 that the cumulative total of variations reached 33.
Furthermore, hair has gotten far more exotic in recent years. Both male and female figures have sported bigger components with more detail. This has in no small part been driven by the LEGO Group’s expansion into licensing which started in 1999. Star Wars, Super Heroes and Lord of the Rings have created and sustained a need for more and more hair styles. Internal IPs such as Exo-Force, Collectible Minifigures and Agents also used a variety of specific hair elements. Whether it is for a movie accurate version of a character, or to impart a personality such as with Dr. Inferno, these new hair pieces have been put to good use.
If, however, one goes back to before 1999 when Star Wars came out, the picture is completely different. Only six hair specific parts for minifigures existed. Of those, two were very theme specific – the top knot used exclusively in the Islander theme, and the long hair with side braid used in the Western Native American sets. Of the four remaining, three were female, and all were quite plain.
The earliest of these actually came out before the minifigure as we know it today was produced. Appearing alongside a compliment of other plain mannequin figures, the rest of who sported cowboy hats, the first minifigure style hair can be found in the 1975 set 365 Wild West. Known as the ‘Pigtails Hair’, this set contained two versions – one in white, the other in red. This set was the origin for minifigure hair.