The news of Jens Nygaard Knudsen’s passing was almost 24 hours ago and I’m still trying to wrap my head around how much of the LEGO world was shaped by this one man.
The LEGO minifigure is one of my earliest memories of the plastic brick and Jens Nygaard Knudsen was the spiritual father of the modern LEGO minifigure. If you have ever encountered the plastic toy, you would have most likely have met his greatest contribution to the world of LEGO.
I have never met him in person but I do know the LEGO minifigure intimately. It is a defining aspect of the AFOL life and has, for a lot of people, helped others define themselves with the help of the the little plastic man.
For me, the availability to swap out the body for another and then slap on a hairpiece was mind-blowing in the world of 80’s figurines where everything was just pre-designed and fabricated.
He was not only responsible for birthing the minifigure but the Classic Space theme as well which is one of my all-time favourite LEGO themes. The first Classic Space sets, LEGO Rocket Base (358) and Moonlanding (367), were designed by him. If you’re wondering why blue was chosen as the primary colour for that theme, it was also because of his insistence.
Jens passed away Anker Fjord Hospice outside the small town of Hvide Sande on the Danish west coast while battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). He is survived by his wife, Marianne Nygaard Knudsen.
Thank you for shaping the world of LEGO as we know it. It would be a fitting tribute if there would be a minifigure of Jens in an upcoming LEGO Collectible Minifigure Series, no?
Adios space cowboy.