NEW YORK – Happy birthday, LEGO man!
On Monday, one of America's favorite yellow toy figures turns 30 years old. He's having a birthday party, and yes, you're invited.
If you lost touch with him long ago, it's time to catch up with your old childhood friend. Here's what he's been up to: He's held a variety of jobs over the years, from secret agent to superhero, traveled the world, made loads of friends and has been to his share of glitzy parties.
• Click here to see more photos of the 3,000 varieties of LEGO man.
And recently, he's started his own blog called GoMinimanGo.com. Yes, really.
Actually, he's not all that different from the average 30-year-old man — except that he's yellow, and plastic, and he's been cloned and re-accessorized over four billion times.
"I'm sure plenty of people who see all the places I've been and things I've done probably wonder when I'll slow down; but I feel as if the adventure is just beginning," says LEGO man.
The yellow guy looks like he hasn't aged a bit; in fact, he's gotten more flexible.
Typically standing the equivalent of four stacked LEGO blocks, or 1.5 inches tall, he can move his body in more than 970 different ways.
The first LEGO figures — a family of four — were created from combinations of static LEGO bricks in 1973. Two years later, a smaller figure was invented with a head on an unmovable body.
That design was tweaked to create a movable, more-fun figure, and the first policeman LEGO mini-figure was born on August 25, 1978.
That was when LEGO man swung into action: orbiting the earth as an astronaut, wrangling cattle as a cowboy, stealing booty as a pirate and going after sunken treasure as a deep-sea diver. Through the more than 8 quadrillion possible combinations of minifigures, which can be made by swapping each figure's body and clothing parts, the yellow guy has held just about every job under the sun. He's even been a cross-dressing princess.
In 1998 he made a splash in Hollywood as a movie star and superhero when the first LEGO Star Wars figures were launched. Since then, he's played a host of other film roles, including Harry Potter.
"For 30 years, the figures have embodied the creative hopes and dreams of children as they explore their imaginations through LEGO play," said Jette Orduna, manager of the LEGO Group archives.
In the past three decades, over 4 billion minifigures have been produced; that's more than 12 times the population of the United States. Every second, 3.9 minifigures are sold around the world; that's 122 million per year.
And the most popular figure of them all? After 30 years, it is still the original policeman.
In honor of his 30th birthday LEGO man is throwing a big party, complete with videos, games, news, and contests on his Web site, aiming to reconnect children with the iconic yellow toy.
It's often said 'Life begins at 30,' so we look forward to seeing where the world's children of all ages take the mini-figure next through building and play," said Orduna.