More than 600 LEGO fans from all over the world gathered at the brand’s iconic LEGO House in Billund, Denmark, for the yearly AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO) Day, an event for likeminded enthusiasts to meet up, play, listen to panels and meet LEGO builders and engineers behind the 90-year old toy. During the September 22, 2022 event, fans who bought any of three exclusive AFOL Day 2022 minifigures also received a new and unique accessory, a 3D printed minifigure plastic duck.
The new minifigure recreates LEGO’s iconic wooden duck pull toy that had become a company symbol since 1935, when Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, son of founder Ole Kirk Kristiansen, began helping out at the workshop. Production of the wooden duck would go on until the closing of wooden toy manufacturing in 1960 and was later reimagined in modern bricks for the 2020 Wooden Duck set, which is available exclusively at the LEGO House. With this latest 3D printed addition, a classic toy is reimagined once again.
As the latest version of LEGO’s classic duck, it has been gaining much attention on social media. For example, Instagram user Marc Philippi showed how the new duck recreates the same functions as the classic version; it has a moving beak that opens and closes when the duck is pushed along. In previous versions of the duck, LEGO achieved this internal mechanism by using a rigid wire for the original toy and a combination of Technic parts for the LEGO brick version of 2020, as reported by Brick Fanatics. However, the same internal function has now been achieved at a much smaller scale thanks to 3D printing and a 3.2 shaft LEGO part on the front, which connects to the minifigure.
Although many have described it as the first 3D printed accessory sold by the company, this might not be entirely true. Aside from leveraging AM technology in-house for prototypes and conducting experiments to understand the company’s AM capabilities, particularly in multi-material 3D printing, according to New Elementary, the brand created the first 3D printed piece ever to appear in a LEGO set in 2019. Described as Element ID 6286866|Design ID 66237, the 3D printed part, which represents the arm of a drafting machine, appeared in LEGO’s System House set, which represents the opening ceremony of the company’s flagship office in Billund, built in 1958.
From LEGO’s original headquarters to its classic duck, it appears the company is turning to 3D printing to help recreate some of its most memorable products. Ronen Hadar, senior director of LEGO’s Additive Design & Manufacturing, took to LinkedIn to describe his excitement over the new addition: “I’m extremely proud to share our first pilot at LEGO House. The team has been working hard to develop, approve and manufacture this super cool element in collaboration with our talented designers. This is an important milestone for the team. We are looking forward to sharing more news with you in the coming future.”
Similarly, LEGO Senior Additive Manufacturing Engineer Oriol Massanés Flores briefly announced: “It’s been tough, but the duck is finally out of the barrel!”
While LEGO House Master Builder Stuart Harris shared an image of the red duck on Instagram with the following legend: “Today LEGO house is filled with fans from all over the world who have gathered for the Skærbæk fan weekend [global LEGO Fan Convention] and we have an exciting program of activities along with new amazing fan built models throughout the Experience Zones. We are also going to be testing a brand new element that I have been collaborating on for the past 2 years with our Additive manufacturing team (3D printing to you and me!) a new mini duck has hatched and we are really looking forward to get feedback from fans and guests on what they think of it.”
Considered a unique, one-of-a-kind piece of LEGO history, the 3D printed duck has only been available for visitors of the AFOL event in Billund, so it was only a matter of time before several of these duck figures ended up being sold at e-commerce sites. For example, the online platform BrickLink has ten 3D printed wooden pull-along duck figures for sale, which start at $450 and run up to €800 ($768). One of the largest fan-run marketplaces of LEGO parts, sets, and minifigures, BrickLink was, in fact, acquired by LEGO in 2019.
Exclusive to LEGO House attendees, this tiny element and huge milestone has been greatly complimented since it came out just days ago. It is not only special from a technical standpoint, and for the Additive Design & Manufacturing team in particular but also adds a touch of originality and LEGO history that also make the mini duck a remarkable achievement for every fan of the brand.
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