Before we start talking about the elusive Policeman mini figure from the current Lego blind bag series 18, I need to get one thing out of the way: I don’t like blind bags.
Blind bags seem to be a ‘thing’ at the moment… well more than the moment, they’ve been around for a while now… and plenty of toy manufacturers like to take advantage of this rather insidious and transparently obvious cash grab. Now don’t get me wrong, blind bags can provide some great collectibles but the way I see it, if I’m spending money on something then I’m entitled to know what I’m buying. Sure, plenty of people enjoy the whole mystery of not knowing what they’ve just dropped their hard earned coin on but not me and yes, the vast majority of blind bagged toys are set at a low price point, but the cash can start to add up if you’re intent on collecting an entire wave or set of toys, especially when waves can include upwards of twenty different items.
Some of the more popular blind bag toylines of late have included brands such as Thomas and Friends Minis, Hot Wheels Mystery Models, Pixar’s Cars, Shopkins, etc, etc… the list goes on and in and of course the most popular of blind bags are, without doubt, the Lego Minifigures which have been depleting the wallets of avid collectors since 2010.
Now of course I’ve bought blind bags before for both myself and my kids (no-one held a gun to my head) but the vast majority of the time I’ve done a little homework and figured out what was in the bag prior to purchase. In the case of Hot Wheels Mystery Models and Thomas Minis (the two blind bag lines most bought in our household) a quick Google search will reveal the product code stamped on the back of the bag informing you which collectible is inside. This makes finding the particular item you’re after pretty easy. Some toy companies are a wake-up to this and refrain from putting any unique identifiers on their bags making it extremly tricky to figure out what is inside. The Loyal Subjects put out a line of Masters of the Universe blind boxes recently that featured some pretty cool mini versions of popular characters, but those boxes had nothing to indicate what was inside and at $AU19 a piece, they can fuck off. I’d rather spend that sorta dough on a Transformer packaged in a nice transparent blister card so I know exactly what the hell I’m buying.
Lego Minifigure blind bags have no unique identifiers on them (yes, I’m aware of the ‘bumps’ code which supposedly run along the bottom of the bags which some collectors claim is a way of telling what’s inside but that method seems flakey at best) and as a result the only semi-reliable way to find the character you’re after is to feel the bag for any easily recognisable pieces such as the wings of a dragon-boy or the pointy end of a rocket-man. Suffice it to say, this method is a laborious process and can make a person feel somewhat dubious while standing in the toy aisle literally ‘feeling up’ small plastic bags for minutes on end. I’m guilty of doing it and so are many others in my demographic. It’s not a good look and should only be done when other adults aren’t in the vicinity.
Anyway, enough of this bullshit about blind bags, it’s getting boring. Let’s get onto the highly sought after Policeman who has the honour of being the chase figure for Series 18.
In case you weren’t aware, (and I have no reason to assume you would be) Lego‘s first ever Minifigure was released in 1978 with set #600 and you guessed it: it was a policeman. 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of the Minifigure and to honour that milestone Lego have re-created the original Policeman and sent collectors into a mental frenzy trying to find him in these stupid blind bags.
The arrival of the first Minifigure was a watershed moment for the struggling Lego company. It added an entirely new way to play with the brick based toy-line. Now kids could inject some much needed character into their brick building experience and create their own narratives around their freshly created constructions. The policeman minifigure was the first in the Lego Town sub-line which was quickly joined by Lego Space and Lego Castle. As touched on before in a previous article, I was massive slut for Lego Space in the early to mid Eighties; I adored that shit and still do today. Thankfully I’ve managed to hang on to most of my Classic Space Minifigs and can foresee no reason to ever part with them. Ever.
The 2018 version of the Policeman is a very nice reproduction of the original 1978 version. It should be noted that the original version had a sticker on his torso to illustrate the buttons and police badge. The 2018 version uses tampo-graphed artwork instead which is to be expected in a modern Minifig.
The figure comes with a 1×2 brick and 1×2 tile which features a simplified reproduction of the original set #600 box art. The two pieces together form a miniature version of that set. It’s a cool little accessory.
The Lego Minifigure blind bags are delivered to stores in display boxes of sixty bags. This is usually how stores choose to put them on shelves. There is only one Policeman per box meaning you have 1 in 60 odds of finding him by chance. If you don’t manage to find a box soon after it is placed on the store shelf your chances of finding him are even further diminished. As of writing the policeman is currently trending at around $AU50 on Ebay. That illustrates how desirable this guy has become and how hard he is for people to find in the wild.
So how did I manage to find not one but two of these guys with very little effort? Well the answer is incredibly simple. But like many things in life it comes down to one thing: timing.
This is the hardest step and the one that is outside of your control unless you work in a toy store, department store or supermarket: you have to find a box of Minifigures that have been very recently put on the shelves. Within the past week I have, by pure fluke, found two fresh boxes in two different supermarkets. On the second occasion I actually saw the shelf stacker rip open the top of the box and put in on the shelf. This is the sort of freaky thing that can happen when you’re shopping late at night for your kids’ following day school lunches. Never one to look the proverbial horse in the mouth, I pounced and was well rewarded.
Lego, as a company, is a very well run machine. It does things by the numbers in a very tried and well-engineered way. Things are repeated and repeated flawlessly to manufacture near-perfect results and when it comes to packing their Minifigure boxes, this methodical approach remains. Contrary to popular belief, the Minifigure boxes are not packed randomly. The policeman can be found in roughly the same location every time, specifically in the left row towards the back somewhere between position 3 and 8.
Finding a fresh box means that no-one can mess up the order of bags before you manage to get your grubby hands all over them.
This is where you will need to do a little bag fondling. The policeman has very few easy-to-feel pieces unlike many of his wave mates. His bag will always be quite flat as compared to others with larger pieces. But the easiest thing to feel for is the small 1×2 brick and tile which form his accessory. He is the only minifig in this wave to come with the 1×2 pieces and they are quite easy to feel for. You should only have to feel about 3 or 4 bags before you find him.
And that’s it. As mentioned, the hardest part is just being in the right place at the right time and don’t be afraid to ask store staff if they have fresh boxes ‘out the back’.
I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge Minifigure collector. Outside of my Classic Space Minifigs I probably own around two dozen modern figs; most of which are Star Wars or DC characters. But I do think these blind bags provide some really cool characters and I admit I’ve picked up a handful from this current series. As a child of the Seventies and adolescent of the Eighties I kinda feel obliged to have this Policeman. Like Star Wars, Lego has always been there in the ether of my life. I wander in and out of it as my tastes fluctuate but I always hold it in high regard. Lego is a massive toy brand and the Minifigs are a phenomenon within that. It would be easy to just become a Minifigure collector and disregard the rest of Lego. But like many things collectible, it’s a slippery slope and one must proceed with caution. I’m already balls-deep in Transformers, Masters of the Universe, Star Wars, DC and Hot Wheels… I must be weary when approaching any other toy line for fear of succumbing to it’s seductive ways.
Hopefully my tips on how to find the Policeman prove useful to you. Try them out before you submit to temptation and go down the dreaded Ebay route; that is a dark passage from which there is no return.
Remember: this is a hobby, a means of escapism. There’s no need to piss away the kids’ inheritance in chasing what you’re after. Patience is a virtue when it comes to finding chase toys. Buying from third parties is an easy and costly method and no where near as rewarding as finding these things for yourself. And by extension of that, we tend to value things more when we’ve worked hard for them and acquired them through patience, wit and picking up hot tips from superbly well written websites such as this.
Now, don’t be a sucker and enjoy the hunt!
So I just found a third Policeman using the above method. It fact it was the first bag I pulled out of the box, number four from the top of the left row. I was just buying some beer from the local supermarket bottle shop and passed a new looking box on my way through. This is easy, guys… if you can just manage to find that fresh box!