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The Big Green Pig and the Hunt for Minifigs

“He’s a big green pig…” That was the first description I ever gave the staff at Scallywags toyshop while trying to track down a little-known Return of the Jedi figure, the Gamorrean Guard. The Gamorrean Guard! That’s a name I’ve not heard in a long time; a looonng time…

Hunting down this porcine monstrosity in a pre-internet age only got a little easier once it was actually released. My bad – sorry, Scallywags! It was still a heck of a time coming, mind, so the day that figure finally came, my joy was palpable.

I suspect a great many of you recall a similar joy over a favourite toy. You may be curious to wonder, though, what they’d be worth if you hadn’t played with them. In mint condition, a Gamorrean Guard currently changes hands for as much as £180… A vinyl-caped Jawa, meanwhile, fetches up to £13,000 at auction. But why am I telling you this?

It’s because I’ve never been more acutely aware of the two schools of thought as regards whether toys should be played with or not. To put it in Toy Story parlance, The Stinky Pete Postulation versus The Woody Way… This all came to mind last week after I made my way to the LEGO Shop. My mission was to pick up some new minifigures for my friend Bert, age eight. He’d particularly set his heart on the clown, which is an absolute delight… If the balloon-animal dogs with which he comes aren’t soon considered one of the finest-ever accessories, I’ll eat not only my own hat but also the clown’s.

Clown
They’re the dog’s: Best… Accessory… Ever!

The other minifigure of choice is the one that haunts me! The Policeman. If you haven’t heard, the Policeman commemorates the release of the very first articulated minifigure – a near-identical policeman – 40 years ago. As a tribute, the new one holds in his firm-but-fingerless grip a tile printed to look like the box out of which his ancestor came. So the Policeman figure isn’t just cute. It’s clever. It’s fitting. And it’s rare

New policeman
Let’s be having you! The New Policeman costs time… Or money.

Apparently, there’s just one of these in every box of 60 figures. Those are pretty poor odds! Worse, though, is that adults know this. Collectors know this. Sellers on eBay know this… And the LEGO staff – usually so quick to help in store – also know this: they’ve quite rightly been told not to help customers find the little fella!

Consequently, like some Star Wars toys, the Policeman’s become a collector’s item with a hefty price tag. An unopened blind bag currently sells for up to £25 online… And the damn thing’s only just come out! So I’m sad to say, my quest to give Bert a figure he’d love to play with is set to cost a packet. Worse, if I pay for one as though I were a collector, there’ll instantly be one less mint-condition Policeman in the world!

Old Policeman
40 years on patrol: The Original Policeman

My other option is to get up at the crack of dawn, journey to town and be first in the LEGO Shop door. That way I can start groping my way through a rack full of newly-replenished packets in the hope that one has just arrived… Is that what I’m going to do? Almost certainly. Why? Because that’s a fair way to do it. Because I know how much Bert loves playing with his LEGO… And because this may well be to him as the Gamorrean Guard was to me. That Policeman, metaphorically, is a big green pig…

About Deej

Magician. Hypnotist. LEGO fan... You're not likely to meet many people more happily geeky than writer Deej Johnson! Every now and then, though, he inflicts his interests on others, so here we let him write about LEGO... Better that than watch a card trick.

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