With the release of this year’s Wizarding World sets, we have a fantastic chance to look back to the LEGO Group’s previous approaches to Harry Potter and the Wizarding World. The release of this summer’s wave of Wizarding World Collectible Minifigures (CMFs) presents a huge selection of characters for Potter fans. Focusing on the Wizarding World CMFs, some of these characters have appeared in previous sets, some in several versions. In this article I will be lining up this year’s minifigures with their counterparts from 2016/17, 2010/11 and (in one case only) 2001! As I’m only able to draw from my personal collection of minifigures, the majority of these comparisons will be between this year’s products and their twins from 2010 onwards. Let’s see how the LEGO® depictions of these classic characters has changed over the years…
The central character of the Wizarding World obviously has been the most redesigned character in this series, appearing as the focus of all but 11 of the 54 retail Harry Potter sets (I’m not counting polybags, promotional sets or Fantastic Beasts sets). Harry has seen a lot of changes since his appearance seventeen years ago (far left). The most noticeable difference Harry’s first depiction has from his later brothers is his presentation in the classic yellow of LEGO Minifigures. LEGO had not begun producing ‘flesh tone’ minifigures at the time of Harry’s earliest debut, so much like his licensed Star Wars counterparts pre-2003, Harry gets a yellow makeover! The printing on his torso is much softer than the more modern figures, showing how much the printing techniques and graphic design has progressed in the 21st Century. Speaking of graphic design, Harry is given an oddly dour expression for his debut, bearing little resemblance to his appearance in the first films. Oddly this expression is far more suited to the darker atmosphere of the films being released around ten years later.
So, ten years later we see the appearance of Harry in Minifigure form for the third era of sets released by LEGO for this theme (I am unfortunately unable to compare one of Harry’s early flesh tone depictions as I don’t own one). Other than the retention of his black ‘pudding bowl’ haircut (Bricklink names it as Black Hair, Short Tousled), 2010 sees an all new design for Harry. (Second from left) Sporting a smiling expression on a Light Nougat (known commonly as Light Flesh) head, with a grimace on the reverse, this minifigure is a much fairer representation of Daniel Radcliffe’s Harry and his reversible expression provides better opportunities for play. His uniform is a brand-new design, although it clearly takes cues from the 2001 design. A sharp, defined design of a highly detailed jumper (sweater for our American readers!) is printed on a Dark Stone Grey (Dark Bluish Gray) torso, a change from the less accurate Medium Stone Grey (Light Grey) of 2001. In a similar reflection of accuracy, Harry now sports Black legs which give a much more cohesive idea of the Hogwarts school uniform. Harry’s wand is represented by a 4L Bar, originally created for the blades of Lightsabers from Star Wars. This piece is wildly out of proportion with the minifigure and the issue of wand scale was not resolved until this year’s dedicated part.
Lined up next (third from left) in the rogues’ gallery of Boys-Who-Lived is from his appearance in the LEGO Dimensions theme in 2016. This figure represents a transition between Harry’s earlier appearances and his triumphant 2018 return. The Dimensions version sports the same legs and torso part as his 2010 appearance (although my version of the Dimensions figure sports noticeably softer printing on his torso, I am unsure if this is a quirk of my particular figure, or a wider issue). The changes come with his face print, hair piece and wand piece. The face print, to my relatively untrained eye, appears to be an enlarged version of the 2010 design, even including the dual sided print. This version of Harry’s visage only appeared twice; in LEGO Dimensions and as part of a DK Books exclusive packaged with the book LEGO Harry Potter Characters of the Magical World. The book was released in 2012, a year after Harry’s last appearance in a retail set (until this year). We see a new piece used as Harry’s wand here, similar bar piece to 2010, but one stud shorter, bringing the piece slightly more in scale, although it still seems far too large. This is also the last time Harry’s wand is moulded in Reddish Brown. Harry’s hair is represented here by a newer part (Black Minifig Hair Tousled with Side Part).
Finally, we come onto this year’s Fantastic (pun intended) return of the Wizarding World to LEGO and Harry’s new makeover. 2018 has seen multiple Harry minifigures, with multiple designs and pieces, so for now I will focus on the robed Harry from the new CMF series (fourth from left). The only element that appears here entirely unchanged is the hair piece first used for the Boy Wizard in 2016. The base elements for Harry’s body return to the monotone theme of 2001, although this time moulded in black. The black torso sports a new print showing the Gryffindor tie and jumper underneath Gryffindor robes, matching the appearance of Harry and his fellow students in the early films. The Gryffindor shield has shrunk since earlier LEGO depictions of the uniform, although this results in a loss of detail, the shield now appears in far better scale with the rest of the design whilst remaining recognisable. Harry sports a new face print which matches the 2018 style of the younger Hogwarts students which, to my eye, follows a more cartoon-y style. This subtle change in approach to the graphic design tonally matches the lighter, more family friendly feel of the earlier films. I must briefly mention the other Harry figure from the CMF series, which shows a pyjama clad Harry shielded by his Invisibility Cloak from The Philosopher’s Stone (Sorcerer’s Stone in the US). The face print on that minifigure is even cuter and made me audibly go ‘awww’, in much the same manner as I did when I saw the new baby piece a few CMF series ago!
Returning to the robed Harry, we come to the new elements: Medium Legs and the Wand. The new leg part, appearing for the first time thanks to the Wizarding World theme, is moulded here in black, with printing that continues the cape design from the torso downwards to midway down the legs. The part itself is a revelation for LEGO fans everywhere, who now have the opportunity to depict shorter than normal characters whilst retaining their ability to sit down and articulate their legs. I’m sure most of us have had the frustration of a vehicle or other model with seats and then dealing with the awkward solution of just standing short minifigures on the seats. More specifically focusing on this figure, I am deeply divided about the printing. As a collector who always keeps minifigures intact, I am a huge fan of the move LEGO has made towards including prints on minifigures that match torso and legs. However, from a more neutral perspective and looking at the earliest aims of LEGO, the print means that the piece cannot really be used for another figure or scenario, as the legs have disconnected lines that look incredibly strange when divorced from the appropriate torso.
Returning to far more positive grounds, LEGO Harry Potter fans rejoiced when this year’s minifigures were revealed, holding brand new wand pieces! After nearly two decades we have finally got wand parts that match minifigures in scale, with new and unprecedented detail. Gone are the ugly, smooth bars of the past, moulded in Reddish Brown (with the occasional exception in black or brick yellow/tan) and here are new parts in a range of colours matched to the colours of the wands shown on screen, detailed and intricate. Harry is given here, for the first time, a wand in Dark Brown which actually matches Harry’s on-screen wand. I’m sure I will get comments that Harry’s wand, being made of Holly, was inaccurately portrayed on film, appearing in darker wood, however I am using the films for reference here. LEGO designers have been open that they have taken inspiration from the films and the books (discussed in depth by LEGO designer/Brick Wizard Justin Ramsden and brilliant graphic designer Crystal Fontan in this video for the mind-boggling 71043 Hogwarts™ Castle, however they have clearly used Harry’s cinematic wand as reference for the colour included here. Similarly, all of the 2018 minifigures use wands moulded in the closest colour to their screen depictions.
It appears that this article is quite a bit longer than originally anticipated! Therefore, I will take a leaf out of the films’ book and split this into parts! So, look out for the next part soon! Find the new LEGO Harry Potter minifigures in the latest range of LEGO Wizarding World sets and Collectible Minifigures.