Legoland hires Minifigure Ambassadors at each of their parks, and their sole purpose is to swap Lego figurines with visitors
THOSE careers advisers at school have a lot to answer for. At no point is any student ever told that they could be paid to walk around theme parks and trade toys with kids.
But that is an actual job – Legoland hires Minifigure Ambassadors at each of their parks, and their sole purpose is to swap Lego figurines with visitors.
Employees at the parks wear a nametag with a LEGO mini figure sat on top and if a child (or adult) asks nicely, they can swap the figure – whether it’s an exclusive Lego superhero or custom-made – with one of their own.
The only rule for trading is that both minifigures must be in complete form, which means a head, legs, and body.
But the Minifigure Ambassadors are the ones to seek out at the park – they carry around more than 100 minifigures at any given time.
The ambassadors launched several years ago following the success of trading pins at Disney theme parks.
They were first trialled at the park in Florida with a man named Frederik being named the first official ambassador.
He has revealed the secrets behind the job on Reddit – which figurines were the most valuable, what the job was really like and who were the worst customers (adults of course).
Frederik worked at Legoland Florida for two years and became the first Trading Ambassador.
He left the job but still carries around figurines to trade to this very day.
He said: “I own a few sets, mostly Star Wars – the 30 per cent discount meant I kind of had to.
“But I have a small wooden box full of minifigures.
“I usually keep one on me, you never know when you need a kid to stop crying about something.”
Everyone loved the Minifigure Ambassador – but even with something as universal as Lego there were some things that got lost in translation between different nationalities,.
He said: “I would say Legos to Americans and Lego to everyone else.
"I've always seen it as a cultural thing. Though the higher ups at the park were mostly British, so [Americans using the word Legos] made them very upset.”
Behind the scenes, Legoland keeps big stock bins full of minifigure pieces, so that employees could improve their figurine if the one they received in a trade wasn’t particularly impressive.
As well as trading with the visitors, it was also the ambassador’s duty to tour the park trading with fellow staff members so they each had a good figure on their name badge.
Frederik said: “They'd usually get a good one to start off with, but it only takes one torn up minifigure to stop them from trading for a while.
“Everyone loves to trade, but they definitely get let down when they get a crummy one.”
While everyone wants a quirky Lego figure, there are some which are far more valuable than others.
In 2007, Lego made 10,000 copies of a gold chrome-plated C-3PO minifigure and it is highly prized among fans, as are the 5,000 Mr Gold figures that Leo released in 2013.
Frederik said: “[The most valuable figures I traded were] mostly Star Wars ones.
"I had a Queen Amadala minifigure at some point and I’m not sure if it was rare but a crowd of people went bananas for it.
“I also tricked a lot of people into thinking I had Mr. Gold."
He continued: “There are values online and while I don't follow them, you tend to figure out which ones are rare because you never see them get traded.
“I was rarely worried about what I got because I had an entire store full of minifigures to stay stocked with.
“If a kid was making a bad trade I'd try to tell them that they might find a cooler one instead though – the parents really appreciated it when you looked out for their kids.”
While the kids might get excited, often the most excitable of all are the Lego-mad adults though.
Frederik said: “Every day I wore the vest I'd get some [adult] with a box of minifigures.
“My favourite was this one guy who would try to impress the girls that worked at the park with his Lego knowledge.
“He'd track me down later on to tell me about how all the girls were into him because he knew he stuff.
“Other people would go on and on about their ‘deep knowledge’ of older sets, like I didn't know anything about the stuff I wore on my chest.
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“Most of the older guys were parents that were sharing the same enthusiasm their kids had, which I loved.
“But if I saw a lone adult trying to scoop up some valuable figures (usually to sell), I'd focus on the kids and try to give the best minifigures to them instead.
“It was weird seeing a 30-year-old man trying to argue with a little kid that he saw a minifigure first.”