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Immortalized in Plastic: Real People Made Into Lego

With today’s release of “A Lego Brickumentary,” we’re taking a look at some historical figures who’ve been immortalized brick by brick.

Everything is awesome! It’s even more awesome today because A Lego Brickumentary hits theaters and iTunes at the same time. Narrated by Jason Bateman, the movie takes a look at the most famous bricks in the world, celebrating their status as a global phenomenon. Everyone knows that kids love Lego, but kids aren’t the only ones; there are grown-up Lego artists called AFOLs (Adult Fans of Lego) who use their immense creativity to turn the humble, timeless toy into everything from a functioning tool to a work of art.  

Of course there are the Star Wars kits, the Harry Potter sets, The Simpsons and the new Jurassic World kit. There are superheroes, pirates, and every occupation you can think of. But the world of Lego minifigs—the small little figures with the yellow heads—goes beyond the fictional. There are a surprising number of them based directly on real-life people, both current and historical. Below, you’ll find them grouped into categories, with a few suggestions on who else should be added to each group. 

WRITERS

Mark Twain is a Lego minifig, chosen both for his influence on American writers and his memorable hairdo. And you may remember seeing William Shakespeare, who popped up in The Lego Movie last year. But there are other writers in the world of Legodom you might not expect: poets Langston Hughes and Ezra Pound, and novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald. There’s also Geoffrey Chaucer, Ernest Hemingway, John Milton, and Louisa May Alcott, whose minifig looks oddly like Princess Leia.

Langston Hughes Lego Photo

(Photo: Planet Oddity)

MISSING: Hunter S. Thompson. He was distinctive-looking, and wild enough to entertain young rebels or bring back memories for old ones with a past. And Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., although I suppose it’s not okay to accessorize him with Lego Pall Malls. Unfiltered.  

PEACEMAKERS AND ACTIVISTS

Nelson Mandela Lego Photo

(Photo: Planet Oddity)

If anyone has earned his own Lego minifig, it’s revolutionary-turned-President Nelson Mandela, hero to millions. Mahatma Gandhi also has his own Lego, along with Martin Luther King Jr., both advocates for civil rights and social change through non-violent protest. It’s a small group, but an exclusive one. 

Martin Luther KIng Jr. in Lego Photo

(Photo: Planet Oddity)

MISSING: Malala Yousafzai, human rights advocate and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. 

WORLD LEADERS AND WARMONGERS

Napoleon Lego Photo

(Photo: Planet Oddity)

Of course the list of Lego warmongers, just like real-life ones, is longer than the list of peacemakers. Napoleon’s there, and despite rumors (and incorrect ones at that) that he was a shorty, his minifig is the same minisize as all the others. There’s Alexander the Great (who never lost a battle), five-star general Douglas MacArthur, Chairman Mao Tse-tung, Richard the Lionheart, and William Wallace, made famous on film by Mel Gibson. World leaders include Britain’s Winston Churchill, and Cuba’s Fidel Castro, along with U.S. Presidents past and present: Abraham Lincoln (who also appears in The Lego Movie), Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama

Abraham Lincoln Lego Photo

(Photo: Planet Oddity)

MISSING: I’d like to see Jimmy Carter in a Habitat for Humanity kit. Bonus: the proceeds could be donated, and buying one would give you a tax break. 

ATHLETES

Pele in Lego Photo

(Photo: Planet Oddity)

Lots of sports figures to play with here, including the superstars you’d expect: soccer legend Pele, basketball stars Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant, and the inimitable Michael Jordan, player of multiple sports and general overachiever. 

MISSING: The World Cup-winning U.S. women’s national soccer team. Their time has come!  

MUSICIANS/POP STARS

Elvis Presley Lego Photo

(Photo: Planet Oddity)

Among the predictable like The Beatles (mop top phase), Elvis Presley (in Jailhouse Rock), Prince, David Bowie, and Michael Jackson, music lovers can also find some surprises. Freddie Mercury, Iggy Pop, The White Stripes, and The Village People all have minifigs, and Daft Punk even comes with a set of turntables. There’s a Britney Spears, a Jim Morrison, and a Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin Lego Photo

(Photo: Planet Oddity)

MISSING: Taylor Swift! She just keeps winning people over, from Elvis Costello to Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. There’s nobody she can’t conquer, Lego builders included. 

MOVIEMAKERS, MOVIE STARS

Bruce Lee Lego Photo

(Photo: Planet Oddity)

You can’t have dozens of Star Wars sets without creating a George Lucas too, so that’s what they did. There’s also George’s pal and sometime collaborator Steven Spielberg, Kevin Smith, and Peter Jackson. Stan Lee, creator of superheroes, has one too. There’s Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale, Anthony Daniels as C-3P0, Charlie Chaplin, Bruce Lee, and Chuck Norris

Judy Garland Lego Photo

(Photo: Planet Oddity)

MISSING: For the filmmakers, Alfred Hitchcock would be a great choice, and when it comes to actors, no one would be better than Meryl Streep. You can put her in any Lego set from any era, country, or universe in existence, and she’ll blend right in.

SCIENTISTS AND INVENTORS

Marie Curie Lego Photo

(Photo: Planet Oddity)

Lego made headlines last year when they released a new product line called Research Institute, which featured a trio of female scientists: a chemist, a paleontologist, and an astronomer. This year, they’ve added female veterinarians, deep sea explorers, and aerospace engineers too. But historically, female scientists haven’t found their way into minifigs yet, with the exception of radioactivity pioneer Marie Curie. She’s in good company, though, sharing a (toy) shelf with fellow science whizzes Leonardo da Vinci, scientific method promoter Sir Francis Bacon, philosopher-mathematician René Descartes, genius Albert Einstein, founding father Benjamin Franklin, and Dr. Jonas Salk, developer of the polio vaccine. And the Galileo Galilei minifig has actually been to outer space several times already, due to The Lego Group’s ongoing collaboration with NASA. The tiny plastic astronomer will orbit Jupiter next year. 

Leonardo da Vinci Lego Photo

(Photo: Planet Oddity)

MISSING: Stephen Hawking and Jane Goodall. (Think of the playset opportunities alone with Dr. Goodall!) 

EXPLORERS  

Marco Polo Lego Photo

(Photo: Planet Oddity)

Where would we be without our explorers? There are Lego minifigs of Marco Polo, Captain James Cook, Vasco da Gama, Erik the Red, Neil Armstrong, and Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space.

MISSING: Colonel Chris Hadfield, the Canadian astronaut, David Bowie fan, and social media poet. 

ARTISTS

Michelangelo Lego Photo

(Photo: Planet Oddity)

If we have writers and musicians, we need artists too. Leonardo da Vinci gets a mention here despite already having been included in the scientist category. Like most geniuses, he was versatile. Other Lego’d-up artists include Michelangelo, Vincent van Gogh, Andy Warhol, and Ansel Adams, an artistically diverse group if ever there was one. 

MISSING: Salvador Dali, who’d come with a set of groovy melting clocks. Frida Kahlo should be in there too, don’t you think? They’ve added female scientists, so now it’s time to bring on the female artists.

WILD CARDS

Joan of Arc Lego Photo

(Photo: Planet Oddity)

Magicians, murderers, martyrs, oh my! There are some minifigs that don’t fit into any of the categories above. There’s magician Harry Houdini, headline-grabbing presidential candidate Donald Trump, murderer Jack the Ripper, martyr and Joan of Arc, gangster Bugsy Siegel, wildlife expert Steve Irwin, and for some reason, French mime Marcel Marceau. TV Batman Adam West, late night comic Conan O’Brien and Dr. Jack Kevorkian round out the group. With these wild cards, you could have the most interesting dinner party in Lego OR real-world history.  

Donald Trump Lego Photo

(Photo: Planet Oddity)

A Lego Brickumentary opens in theaters in a limited run on July 31st, and will hit iTunes the same day.