LEGO Brand Store Opening Exclusives - The Minifigures That Are Rarer Than Comic Con Exclusives
15th September 2023
Everyone loves the opening of a new LEGO store, and if you're one of the first customers through the door, you can bag yourself some exclusive swag.
In 2011, LEGO began the tradition of handing out minifigure packs at store grand openings. These typically contained three minifigures in clamshell packaging with a unique cardboard backing, which often depicted something with a connection to the store's location. For example, the set given out at the Castleton Square store in Indianapolis featured a NASCAR car, because of the famous speedway in the city.
The vast majority of minifigure packs were also numbered, which gives a clear picture of their rarity. Between 300 - 500 copies of each pack were typically produced and were distributed to the first customers making selected minimum purchases. This makes them rarer than many of the highly coveted Comic-Con exclusives.
In this article, we give an overview of the minifigures that have been given out at grand openings and store anniversary events in different regions
LEGO fans in the US and Canada were given more favourable treatment than their counterparts in Europe, as each minifigure in the packs featured unique back printing, which makes them rarer than almost all Comic-Con exclusive minifigures. The printing included the year of the grand opening and the store's location. For example, for the Lone Tree store opening in Colorado, the back printing reads “2011 The LEGO Store Lone Tree, CO”.
As far as I can work out, the minifigures didn't have any connection to the location of the store, with a chef, Lion Knight, prisoner, construction worker, and Brickbeard being among the most commonly chosen characters.
To mark the opening of LEGO's 100th North American store, which occurred with the opening of the Crossgates Mall Store in Albany, New York in 2019, a special clamshell pack was produced. This included the same minifigure from the LEGO Shop Employee Minifigure (5001622) polybag, but with gold back printing saying “100 LEGO STORES NORTH AMERICA”. It also had a metallic backing card and a 1x4 red brick with the same text printed on it.
To get the clamshell pack and an accompanying celebratory poster, customers had to make a minimum purchase of $50 in any of the 100 North American stores. The set was only available until stocks lasted but is significantly less rare than other grand opening giveaways because of its widespread release.
The UK minifigure packs were slightly rarer than the North American versions, as they were usually limited to 300 copies, rather than 400 - 500. This might have been LEGO's way to make up for the fact that none of the UK minifigures had unique back printing or included any unique parts.
However, LEGO did tailor some minifigures to the store's location. For example, at the grand opening of the Liverpool store, the exclusive pack contained minifigures representing three members of The Beatles, and at the Newcastle store, customers received a pack with minifigures of singer Cheryl Cole and TV show hosts Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly. (They might not mean anything for US readers, but in the UK they are household names!).
At the grand opening of the UK's largest LEGO store in Leicester Square, London, the rarest of all the exclusive minifigure packs was given out. This was limited to 275 copies and included a minifigure of the store's mascot, Lester. Customers who spent £100 or more received a scratchcard where they found out whether they won the Lester minifigure or a brick-built parrot polybag. Understandably so, people were a bit hacked off by this system, as many who had queued for hours left disappointed.
The Lester minifigure was later included in a polybag that was only available to buy at the Leicester Square store.
European LEGO fans also got a rough deal, as the minifigures again lacked any back printing. The production runs ranged from 300 - 500, except for the Berlin store re-opening minifigure pack, which had a production run of 750. However, the unique cardboard backings included some nice designs that were far more elaborate than most produced for North America.
Chinese LEGO fans also got treated to some exclusive minifigures at their grand openings, but in far greater quantities than elsewhere in the world, which makes sense given how populous China is. They were limited to between 3,000 to 5,000 copies, and each included a male and female minifigure with a unique printed torso.
The minifigure packs given out at the grand opening of the Beijing store were the rarest, as there were two variants with different leg colouring, and each was limited to 1,500 copies.
Although the majority of grand opening minifigures are rarer than Comic-Con exclusives, if you waited in line to get one of these packs, don't expect to get thousands for it. This is because superheroes are much more desirable than a standard minifigure with some special text printing. They can also lack appeal for people that aren't local to any store.
Their values range wildly but you can expect to pay around $150 - $250 for North American packs, and the equivalent for European and UK packs. The Beatles pack from Liverpool is one of the most valuable, given the popularity of the legendary pop band.
If this article has got you excited to head to a brand store opening and add one of these packs to your collection, we advise holding off. This is because unfortunately LEGO stopped giving out minifigures in North America and Europe in 2019 and two years later for China.
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