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Jens Nygaard Knudsen (2020), Lego minifigure creator

by Kirk Fox

Jens Nygaard Knudsen was the creator of the beloved Lego minifigure. He designed the “Lego Man” or figures with no identifiable race and interchangeable limbs. The Lego figures were released to the public in 1978. Knudsen worked as a designer for Lego from 1968 until 2000, helping to create the popular Lego Castle and Lego Space designs.

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Died: Wednesday, February 19, 2020 (Who else died on February 19?)

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Details of death: Died at the age of 78 from ALS.


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His widow Marianne Nygaard Knudsen on Jens’ inspiration for the Lego minfigure: “The figure was created so that there would be life in the houses. At the time Lego’s houses were empty, but then he drew this man.” —Interview with Danish network TV2

What they said about him: “He was a true visionary whose ideas brought joy and inspiration to millions of builders around the world and we thank him for helping to create some of our most loved play themes.” —Lego chief marketing officer Julia Goldin in a statement to USA Today

“Jens was not only responsible for designing the #LEGO #Minifigure he also drove the development of many early LEGO Product lines including my childhood favorite Classic Space. He was truly one of the unsung heroes of the toy industry. Without him, I would have never been inspired to do the things I do today, without him I wouldn’t even have my job today.” —Mathew Ashton, Lego vice president of design on Twitter

Full obituary: USA Today

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