It is evident that the LEGO minifigure population is not representative of our real world community at large. Minifigure heads and torsos overwhelmingly are produced in the colors light nougat or yellow (which is white-coded). We looked at the amount of skin tone presence on female minifigure torsos to examine how interchangeable torsos are when creating minifigs of different skin tones.
Ethnic Versatility of Female LEGO Minifigure Torsos
There is a huge lack of respectful minority representation in the LEGO minifigure population. In another WBI analysis article, we discover that the actual percentage of human skin tones on female heads that represent people of color is extremely low at about 7%. After determining that there is only a small selection of heads for women of color to choose from to represent themselves, we turned to examine female minifigure torsos.
With heads, it is impossible to change the skin tone of the face to be something else. However, some minifigure torsos may work for many different colored minifigures, depending on the amount of skin tone present on the torso. For example, a torso wearing a coat that shows no skin color could be used in a versatile way, while a torso wearing a tank top that has light nougat coloring on the neckline and arms would be restricted to being used on white-coded minifigures.
We performed a deep dive into the skin tone presence on female minifigure torsos to determine how many torsos could possibly be used for minifigures of multiple skin tones and how many would be restricted in the minifigure skin tone they could be used for.
For this analysis, we collected data from Bricklink in July, 2020, and examined every female minifigure torso released and listed on the site as of then (a total of 470 torsos). We developed a rating system for the presence of skin tone on female torsos, as shown below with examples of each presence level. This rating system helped us quantify the amount of skin tone present on female minifigure torsos.
In the following chart, we summed the number of torsos in each level of significance for skin tone presence. About half (49%) of all female torsos showed no skin tone at all, and the other half (51%) showed slight to significant amounts of skin tone. This means that out of 470 female torsos, there are 230 with no skin tone at all that could be used for minifigures of any color.
However, 51% of female torsos showed skin tone somewhere, meaning that these (most of which were yellow or light nougat) could not be used to depict a person of color.
The following graph reveals the presence of skin tone on female torsos since 2010. Please note that there were only 20 female torsos in total produced before 2010. Percentage-wise, there appear to be more torsos made before 2014 that had skin tone present, but that could also be due to the small number of female torsos made at all during those years compared to after 2014.
After examining all the female LEGO minifigure torsos released to date, we have come to the conclusion that about half of female torsos show no skin tone and can be used to represent many different ethnicities, while the other half do show the presence of skin tones and are restricted to being used for minifigures of that color. Most of these torsos that show skin tones are light nougat and yellow (which is synonymous with white skin). We recommend that LEGO produce more torsos that do not show skin tones or show skin tones that represent races and ethnicities other than white/Caucasian.