According to the My Sets section of Brickset, I own 1700 minifigures and of all those minifigures only one is an elusive resident of Fabuland. The Fabuland minfigures are like no other, too big to be a standard LEGO® minifigure and too small to be a Duplo figure. They are unmistakably LEGO but remain one of the most unique range of characters to appear in the world of LEGO. So we thought it would be fun to take A Look At LEGO…. Fabuland!
Before the cross-product success of Bionicle, Ninjago, Legends of Chima and NEXO KNIGHTS, The LEGO Group created a whole new theme aimed at young childrens, which would sit between Dulpo and the standard LEGO System range. Released in 1979, Fabuland was the first theme that LEGO created which went beyond the brick, by also encompassing storybooks, clothing and a great stop-motion TV series. Much like Chima and similar themes, Fabuland was a character based range, featuring a cast of colourful animal characters. These ‘Fabufigs’ were much bigger than the standard LEGO minifigures and had movable arms, legs and unlike their LEGOLAND neighbours, a ball-jointed head.
The residents of Fabuland were given names and stories, with each of them having their own little role to play within Fabuland. Although the ‘Fabufigs’ were vastly different in style to the minifig, the foundations of the Fabuland world were made up with the standard LEGO bricks. These were accompanied with a wealth of new elements like furniture, vehicle parts and accessories. Even the build instructions offered something new for LEGO, as children constructed their Fabuland sets, parents could then read them the story that followed the build and the characters it included.
In the UK, a claymation TV show was created around the world of Fabuland called ‘Edward and Friends’ these 5 minutes stop-motion shorts aired on BBC2 in 1987 and also spawned a collections of story books published by Ladybird. Although based on a line of children’s toys, Edward and Friends attracted the talent of some British greats with Bernard Cribbins providing the voiceover and Mike Batt, father of the Wombles, creating the music.
Fabuland stayed on the market for 10 years before being discontinued in 1989. There were over 100 sets produced many of which have become incredibly sought after thanks to the themes many unique elements. It was reborn briefly in 2000 under the new guise of the LEGO Mickey Mouse range, this was based on the popular Disney character and used a majority of the unique elements created for Fabuland. Not surprisingly some of these unique elements have since reappeared in LEGO sets as diverse as Spongebob Squarepants, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, NEXO KNIGHTS and even LEGO Friends.
Fabuland was honoured in 2014’s LEGO big screen debut, The LEGO Movie and one of the sets based on the film. With the Fabu-Fan minifigure appearing in The LEGO Movie set 70813: Rescue Reinforcements, she featured a Fabuland t-shirt and Fabuland was shown as one of the The LEGO Movies many realms.
Even almost 40 years on the love for Fabuland within the LEGO AFOL community is still strong. It paved the way for other popular LEGO story-based themes and the unique way they go beyond just playsets, to create an array of different means of interacting with the lovable characters and they world they inhabit. Although there hasn’t been other LEGO themes in the similar style as Fabuland, beyond the Mickey Mouse sets in the early 2000s, the continued use of elements created for Fabuland is a fun legacy for one fabulously unique themes.