With The Clone Wars movie and subsequent series, Star Wars fans finally got to see what was teased by George Lucas in Episode IV: A New Hope and only briefly seen during the prequels. As the Republic battles against Separatist forces across the galaxy, planets were ravaged, senators kidnapped and the Jedi were spread thin. With so much action there was plenty for the LEGO designers to translate into sets.
However, in an experiment to try and match the animation style, the minifigures were printed very differently. Big eyes, multiple expressions and cheekbones galore, it’s fair to say that these minifigures really split opinion. Nowadays most fans look back with mild horror. But why were the first years of Star Wars: The Clone Wars inifigures so different?
As an animated television series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars had its own unique style that evolved over the years that the show aired. To help set the scene for this different time period in the galaxy, not to mention allow for a new cast of voice actors to have their own take on beloved characters, The Clone Wars was brighter, more angular, and had a distinctive feel. As the accompanying LEGO sets were in development, using production art and character maquettes (statues that act as references for the animators), the minifigure graphics were designed to match.
While this may seem like a radical choice for the minifigure now, back in 2008 there was actually quite a bit of experimentation. LEGO designers often worked on multiple themes at this time, especially if a theme only had one release in a year, so that meant that creativity was being brought into LEGO Star Wars from across the portfolio. At the same time as The Clone Wars sets hit shelves there was also SpongeBob SquarePants, Mars Mission and Exo Force. All of these themes also had very distinctive minifigures or aliens, including differently printed eyes and oversized hairdos.
Another thing to remember is that any minifigure design has to be approved by Lucasfilm before making its way into a final product. So even though The Clone Wars minifigures were a shift away from regular Star Wars ones, they still got the go ahead from Lucasfilm’s licensing department. While fans might complain about the big, creepy eyes, they still do look like the characters on screen – even Rotta the Hutt. If these minifigures were approved though, then why did the design team then revert back to the typical LEGO Star Wars style?
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This probably comes down to a multitude of reasons, including improvements in printing, consumer feedback and changes to the LEGO minifigure style guide. There is now a much more cohesive feel to all minifigures, no matter which theme they come from, and it’s likely The Clone Wars ones reverted to this typical printing in order to fit within the universe. Those 2008 – 2010 era minifigures do look rather odd next to their typical counterparts, so by using one style of printing on them all, it means that they all appear to be from within the same galaxy, as they should.
What do you think of the original LEGO Star Wars: The Clone Wars minifigures? Do you love or loathe their uniquely big eyes? Jump into a Jedi starfighter and come join the conversation on any of the Blocks social media channels!