LEGO capes – from 1984 until now

The LEGO cape is an essential accessory for many characters, including Darth Vader, Batman and the Dragon Master. Read all about how LEGO capes have evolved since their introduction in 1984 as part of LEGO Castle.

Reading issues of Blocks, the monthly LEGO magazine, back-to-back is a fantastic idea. The LEGO Group’s endeavours to add capes, and their eventual switch to fabric, was a fantastic idea, too. Capes add character to the minifigures who wear them, from legendary Black Falcon knights to the Dark Lords of the Sith.  

It’s amazing how capes can cast shadows and make a minifigure look larger in toy photography, too. These essential accessories have a long and celebrated history, despite a few modern-day issues. Here’s a quick look at the timeline of the LEGO Group’s beloved capes, starting in 1984 and ending at the present day.  

1984 – The birth of the classic cape

It all starts in 1984. Instead of Big Brother, a far more benevolent party is calling the shots – the LEGO Group. The same year Apple presented the ‘1984’ ad at Super Bowl XVIII, the LEGO Group made a revolutionary addition to their minifigures – capes. The first of them, in stark contrast with the fabric capes of today, were tiny and were difficult to see from the front of the figure. These were most commonly produced in the 1980s, appearing on 30 minifigures across different sets in black, red, brown and blue.  

Notably, the brown classic cape only appeared in one set – 6040 Blacksmith Shop. It’s used by the blacksmith as an apron, hanging from the front instead of the back. This creative use of a cape was something that wouldn’t be seen again for a while, especially once the LEGO Group transitioned to larger triangular capes made of paper.  

1993 – Dungeons and Dragon Knights

The cape legacy continues with LEGO Castle, though interestingly, the plastic cape now co-existed alongside fabric. The first fabric cape hung from the shoulders of a powerful minifigure – the Dragon Master from the Dragon Knights faction in 1993. The cape itself features a classic green dragon motif and a single hole to attach onto the Dragon Master’s neck peg. Interestingly, the difference between said Dragon Master figure that appears in three sets is the colour of his plumes – blue, red and yellow – but that’s a story for another day.  

The Dragon Knights theme also introduced Majisto the Wizard, a LEGO icon, who was wearing a black classic cape made of plastic. He would later be remade sans-cape in 2022 for 10305 Lion Knights’ Castle.  

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The late 1990s and 2000s – Enter the paper triangle cape

The classic plastic cape was finally retired in the early 2000s, so what would replace it? The ‘new’ paper triangle cape holds meaning for children growing up in the 2000s and 2010s, but for many fans, the material makes this neck ornament a hard pass. Heavy bending and play can easily crease the cape, while its sharp material stops it from flowing off a minifigure’s back. You can forget about spaghetti sauce stains, too. These capes were also used as changing room drapes in 10211 Grand Emporium to some success in covering up a minifigure.  

Granted, the LEGO Group still produced a few non-paper specialty capes during that time, including the ragged robes that cover Lord Voldemort, Lucius Malfoy, and the Dementors’ fronts and backs. This robe and concept were created in 2004 and continued in 4766 Graveyard Duel from 2005, with the cape being remade for grey Dementors in 2010. This was made with a far softer, felt-like material.

2010 to present day – Operation: Forget the rules

The papery triangle cape is still released used today, notably in a shorter version in 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell (though this concept was first released in 2012). The LEGO Group eventually developed a new spongy fabric cape. It is a slight improvement but brings its own issues. From the fabric bunching around the neck to adding unintentional bulk, not all fans love the newer spongy fabric cape.  

The LEGO Group loves to freestyle on modern capes, especially in direct-to-consumer sets like the Queen’s cape in Lion Knights’ Castle, the Michael Keaton Batman’s rubber flowing cape and even Elsa’s beautiful robe that trails her steps in 43197 The Ice Castle. Even smaller sets enjoy exclusive cape designs, as was the case in the recently released 76416 Quidditch Trunk.  

Some fans lament the lack of further fabric materials on their minifigures, particularly side skirts for specialised Clone Troopers in LEGO Star Wars. Others want more effort put into minifigure designs themselves, like standard arm and leg printing standard. It’s a valid viewpoint, but sometimes, all it takes to dress up a minifigure is a trusty cape – no matter the shape.  

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