Short for "Miniature Figure", the term Minifigure describes the small, articulated, plastic persons that populated LEGO SYSTEM playsets. Minifigures are known for their multiple detachable and interchangable body parts: head, torso, arms, hands, hips, legs (and miscellaneous accessories); which fit together to create a tiny action figure.
Similar to action figure customizers of the same time period, LEGO fanatics tried their hand at manufacturing new and exciting minfigures by swapping body parts or using official LEGO parts in creative ways. More adventurous artisans began using model paints, paint pens and premade model decals to decorate their minifigs even further. Some even dared to take an X-acto knife and super-glue to various parts, and arrive at some odd concoction.
As the hobby grew it became less of a taboo to utilize compatible minifig accessories from various clone brands. By the late 1990's technology made it possible for customizers to design and print their own minifigure stickers and decals through the use of software like Photoshop, Corel draw and the assistance of high-resolution inkjet printers. Those with keen sculpting abilities took the hobby to the next level by making custom headpieces, weapons and accessories out of clay, epoxy or resin. Some went so far as to design and mold their own minifigure- compatible custom accessories through either plastic injection or indpendent casting methods.
As the hobby continues to grow, the goal stays the same - creating and customizing personalized minifigures that have yet to be seen.
Indeed, many online shops have appeared for the purpose of selling customized Minifig-compatible accessories, many of which do a roaring trade. These include Brickarms, Brickforge, Little Armory Toys, Arealight's Custom Work, Unknown Artist's Studio, and MMCB's Minifig Cloth Accessories.