Adding a new dimension to collecting LEGO's iconic action figure series, starting with this month's Series 12, every physical figure comes with a code to unlock them for play in LEGO Minifigures Online — and they're so cool.

Funcom's Minifig-powered MMO has been in beta for several months, during which players have been limited to using in-game currency purchased or earned through play to purchase virtual Minifigure packs, each containing one random character from series 9, 10 or 11. Seeing as each new Minifigure unlocked packs a unique power set used to take down the game's enemies in click-heavy action role-playing game style, that's been more than enough.

But now we've got LEGO Minifigures Series 12 hitting store shelves, with 16 never-before-seen figures to play with, including the wonderfully goth Spooky Girl, a man in a pig suit and my personal favorite, the Gamer.

This is the first basic Minifigure set released while LEGO Minifigures Online has been functional, so it gets special treatment. Each tiny blind-bagged figure is packed with a sheet containing a series checklist and a code for unlocking the figure for play in the game. Each of the 16 new characters, from the Genie to the Pizza Guy, is a playable character in the game, each possessing their own unique powers.

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As a gamer who has been collecting these wonderful little plastic jerks for years, it's the best thing ever. I'd much rather spend four dollars on a physical figures and its in-game counterpart than four bucks for a random virtual character from an earlier series.

Now, instead of simply rushing home from the store and praying to plastic Jesus that I didn't buy any doubles, I'm doing that and then quickly logging into the game to add each Minifig to my arsenal.

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It's an extra way to play with your toys or — if you're a collector who is also the parent of small children — a way to let your kids play without fear of losing any pieces.

LEGO Minifigures Online is a free-to-play game, currently in open beta on PC. The game will officially release later this fall on both PC and tablets.