The history of lego

Обновлено: 13.07.2024

Что значит LEGO, кто его придумал и как не очень популярная игрушка стала мировым хитом? В издательстве «НЛО» в переводе Анны Ландиховой выходит сборник «Дизайн детства» — о самых важных игрушках XX века. Arzamas публикует отрывок

Крупная многонациональная корпорация, известная сегодня как LEGO, зародилась в самых скромных слоях общества — в маленьком датском городке Биллунн. В 1916 году основатель компании Оле Кирк Кристиансен управлял столярной мастерской, которая занималась обработкой дерева и выпускала простую мебель. В период Великой депрессии он занялся производством небольших предметов домашнего обихода, и в качестве побочного продукта этого производства появились деревянные игрушки. К 1934 году Кристиансен решил полностью переориентировать свой бизнес на производство игрушек и переименовать фирму в LEGO (сокращенная фраза leg godt — «играй хорошо» на датском) LEGO History Timeline: 1932–1939.
H. Wiencek. The World of LEGO Toys. New York, 1987. . Игрушки этого периода делались по устоявшимся образцам. Это были каталки, животные или машинки на веревочке, стилистически идентич­ные деревянной скандинавской игрушке. Происхождение фирмы LEGO из сто­лярного и строительного бизнеса, изделия, которые она выпускала, и даже регулярные пожары на предприятии — все это связывало компанию с давними традициями скандинавских деревянных игрушек. Здесь на первом месте стояли преемственность и мастерство, а вовсе не безоглядное новаторство, которое впоследствии станет характерной чертой имиджа LEGO Больше о традициях и мастерстве создания скандинавской игрушки см.: A. Ogata, S. Weber. Introduction // Swedish Wooden Toys. Yale University Press, 2014. .


Деревянная игрушечная утка компании LEGO. 1930-е годы © LEGO®

На примере истории происхождения компании (сегодня эту историю излагают для покупателей в разнообразной форме: на официальном сайте, в книжках, спонсированных компанией, и даже в виде короткого мультфильма) можно изучать, с какой избирательностью создаются корпоративные истории Среди типичных примеров:
LEGO Group. The Ultimate LEGO Book. New York, 1999.
D. Lipkowitz. The LEGO Book. New York, 2009.
LEGOClubTV. «The LEGO® Story». . Хотя сегодня семья Кристиансена и его фирма предстают перед нами в романтиче­ском ореоле (дизайнеры-новаторы, без устали работающие над высококаче­ственными игрушками), на самом деле первые кирпичики LEGO, выпущенные в 1949 году, были подделкой. В 1946 году вместе с приобретенным у британ­ской фирмы по производству станков аппаратом для отливки пластмассы Кристиансен получил производственные образцы продукта, который прода­вала другая британская фирма — Kiddicraft. Эти «защелкивающиеся кирпи­чики» изобрел основатель компании Хилари Пейдж. Он был детским психологом и изучал роль игры в развитии ребенка. Кристиансен немного изменил дизайн Пейджа и стал выпускать и продавать свои строительные кирпичики В 1988 году в результате тяжбы с конкури­рующим концерном Tyco палата лордов Великобритании приняла решение, что LEGO не обладает исключительными правами на изготовление кирпичиков.
См.: LEGO-Myten der Snublede // Børsen Nyhedsmagasin. June (5). 1987. В официальной истории полностью избегают упоминаний о Kiddicraft, и даже неофициаль­ные источники уклоняются от обсуждения этой темы. Здесь можно найти наиболее полную информацию, в том числе подробное обсуждение Пейджа и Kiddicraft:
J. Hughes. Brick Fetish.
Кроме того, история коротко изложена здесь: S. Herman. A Million Little Bricks: The Unofficial Illustrated History of the LEGO Phenomenon. New York, 2012.
B. Vale B., Vale R. Architecture on the Carpet: The Curious Tale of Construction Toys and the Genesis of Modern Buildings. London, 2013. .

Изобретение Пейджа тоже имело своих предшественников в мире строи­тельных игрушек. Аналогичное соединение «шип-паз» было у бельгийского конструктора из прессованной бумаги Batima (1905) и у английского рези­нового конструктора Minibrix (1935) Architecture Potentielle: Jeux de Construction de la Collection du CCA. Montreal, 1991.
B. Salter. Building Toys. Oxford, 2011. . Как писала историк архитектуры Элис Фридман, родители детей и производители стремились к тому, чтобы игрушки такого рода «не просто учили ловкости рук и умению строить, а с помощью игры формировали у детей нормы поведения, а также устремления и желания будущих граждан и потребителей» A. Friedman. Maisons de Rêve, Maisons Jouets. Montreal, 1995. . Эта же мысль появляется и в книге Пейджа 1953 года «Детский досуг в первые пять лет», где он описывает все преимущества игр с конструктором. Полагая, что игрушки главным образом «занимают» тело и ум, он настаивал на важности развития воображения и внутреннего мира ребенка. «В процессе творческой игры ребенок с каждым днем все усердней готовится к взрослой жизни, изучая ее законы и правила. Однако не менее важно, что воображаемая страна его игр — это островок спасения от тревог и разочарований реального мира» H. P. Fisher. Playtime in the First Five Years. London, 1953. . Кирпичики Пейджа и их копии, сделанные LEGO, точно соответствуют определению типичной обучающей игрушки XX века у Бригитты Эльмквист: «простые по своему строению, текстуре, форме и цвету, гендерно-нейтральные, так что подходят и девочкам, и мальчикам». Они были ориентированы скорее на развитие физи­ческой координации ребенка и, возможно, рациональных основ построй­ки, чем на свободное проявление творчества B. Almqvist. Educational Toys, Creative Toys // Toys, Play, and Child Development. Cambridge University Press, 1994. . Также немаловажно, что их модульная структура позволяла продавать небольшие дополнительные наборы. Этот маркетинговый механизм в конце XIX века был придуман немецкой фирмой Рихтера, предпринимателя, выпускавшего конструктор «Анкерные каменные кубики» (Anker-Steinbaukästen) См., например, один из наиболее исчерпы­вающих текстов о Richter’s на английском языке:
D. Hamlin. Work and Play: The Production and Consumption of Toys in Germany, 1870–1914. University of Michigan Press, 2007. .


Блокирующие строительные кубики Хилари Фишера Пейджа. 1939 год © Chas Saunter / CC BY-SA 2.0

Но хотя LEGO и позаимствовала этот отработанный ход, кубики LEGO в первые годы не приносили ей коммерческого успеха: к 1953 году на них приходилось лишь 7 % продаж фирмы J. Hughes. Brick Fetish. . В 1955 году сын Кристиансена, Готфрид, желая усовершенствовать производство и сбыт, решил пересмотреть линейку продук­ции своей фирмы. Воспользовавшись модульным принципом, лежащим в основе конструктора, он придумал новую концепцию, вроде «общей идеи» продаж и использования конструктора. Это положило начало «Системе игры» (System i Leg) LEGO, которая переместила существующие индивидуаль­ные наборы на шипованный Town Plan «План города» — конструкторский набор LEGO. В него входили кирпичики, из которых можно было построить дома, лужайки, тротуа­ры, бордюры, проезжие части и т. д. В набор также входили подходящие под кирпичики шипованные пластинки, на которые все это можно было ставить. с совместимым креплением. Теперь любой ребенок, следуя общей модернистской или функционалистской архитектурной моде, мог, словно на сетке улиц, расставлять домики на ковре у себя в детской В легендах о LEGO часто воспроизводится другой героический эпизод о своевременном разговоре Готфрида с покупателем игрушек, который стал причиной создания LEGO System.
См.: LEGO Group. Ultimate LEGO Book. New York, 1999. .

После войны среди психологов, учителей и амбициозных родителей со средним достатком начались оживленные дискуссии о школе, детской площадке и городском дизайне. В итоге сложился общественный консенсус: «благонравные» игрушки особенно важны для развития личности и умений ребенка. Послевоенную Европу охватило увлечение «хорошими» игрушками, тесно связанными с дискурсом обновления и реформирования, который сосредотачивался на дизайне детских вещей. «Хорошие» игрушки, подкреп­ленные идеей о ранимом ребенке, нуждающемся в родительском наставлении, противопоставлялись дешевым игрушкам массового производства, с которыми многие ассоциировали бесполезную новизну, материализм, хаос и насилие A. Ogata. Good Toys // Century of the Child. New York, 2012.
Также см.: A. Ogata. Designing the Creative Child. University of Minnesota Press, 2013. .

Нормативное понятие «хорошей», «настоящей» игрушки предполагало, что она искусно сделана из дерева и следует благородной традиции, но фирма LEGO намеренно вписала в этот дискурс свои пластмассовые кирпичики. Пласт­масса — долговечный и гигиеничный материал, при этом достаточно дешевый для масштабного производства. Однако в Европе середины XX века отношение к нему было противоречивым О предубеждениях покупателей относи­тельно пластмассы см.: The Plastics Age: From Modernity to Post-Modernity. London, 1990. . О материале детских игрушек писал не кто иной, как знаменитый философ Ролан Барт: он критиковал пластмассу как «непривлекательный материал, результат химии, а не природы… одновременно грязный и гигиеничный, он разрушает все удовольствие, всю сладость, всю человечность прикосновения» R. Barthes. Mythologies. New York, 1972. . В свете этого в первых маркетинговых страте­гиях LEGO видны попытки одомашнить потенциально чуждый материал с помощью приятных образов и вместе с этим разрекламировать преимущества конструктора. К примеру, в одном объявлении в датском журнале 1960 года говорилось: «Какое удовольствие видеть детей, играющих в LEGO: эта игра вдохновляет и успокаивает. Дети учатся браться за сложные задачи и решать их вместе» «Det er en fornøjelse at se børnene lege med LEGO — for LEGO-legen er rolig og udviklende. Børnene lærer at give sig i kast med store opgaver og løse dem i fællesskab».
Объявление цит. по: J. Hughes. Brick Fetish
Перевод автора. . На рекламной картинке изображены мальчик и девочка, которые играют на полу с Town Plan. За ними наблюдает мать, сидящая в стильном модерновом кресле с деревянной спинкой, с вязанием в руках.


Реклама LEGO в газете Saturday Evening Post. 1962 год © Издательский дом «Новое литературное обозрение»

В конце 1950-х и в 1960-е успех компании за рубежом продолжал расти. Тем временем в ее дизайне активно разрабатывалась тема благонравной сканди­навской идентичности. Постепенно LEGO стала выходить на новые рынки: сначала в Европу (масштабный прорыв в Германию случился в 1956 году), а затем, в начале 1960-х годов, в Северную Америку. Для этого LEGO исполь­зовала лицензионное соглашение с фирмой Samsonite, которая в 1962 году впервые представила на Нью-Йоркской ярмарке игрушек увеличенную версию Town Plan Lego System by Samsonite Unveiled at This Month’s Show // Playthings. March 1962.
Также см.: LEGO History Timeline. . До 1972 года, пока LEGO не начала сама контролировать распро­странение своей продукции в Северной Америке, фирма Samsonite в рекламе конструктора привычно продвигала идею естественности игры в кубики и сообщала, что из абстрактных кирпичиков можно сделать множество разных объектов. Это ставило LEGO в один ряд с другими творческими игрушками для разборчивого среднего класса США. По наблюдению историка дизайна Эми Огаты, в Америке в условиях политической напряженности времен холодной войны дизайн и образование были тесно связаны с понятием творчества, которое стало оплотом демократических ценностей и двигателем научного соревнования A. Ogata. Designing the Creative Child. University of Minnesota Press, 2013. .

Творческие игрушки занимают видное место в дискурсе не только детского образования и психологии, но и творческих профессий. В апрельском номере журнала Progressive Architecture за 1966 год Эллен Перри в статье об архитек­турных игрушках задалась вопросом, «какое влияние они оказывают на буду­щих создателей и потребителей архитектуры. Эффективно ли они развивают творческие способности в эти важные, восприимчивые годы, независимо от того, какая профессия ждет ребенка?» E. Perry. The Child at Play in the World of Form // Progressive Architecture 47. April 1966. И хотя большинство заявлений индустрии Перри воспринимает скептически, все же она исходит из представ­ления, что игрушки должны влиять на образование ребенка и на его способ­ность к творчеству, и настаивает на серьезной ответственности, лежащей на детских дизайнерах в послевоенный период. Проникнувшись идеями модернистов, Перри расхваливает абстрактные игрушки, из которых можно построить все что угодно (именно так в кратком каталоге статьи был охарак­теризован конструктор LEGO). Она заявляет: «Слишком много игрушек создано дизайнерами, обуздавшими свое воображение и направившими его в погоню за буквальностью, которую догнать невозможно. Последнее, что нужно ребенку в игрушке, — чтобы она была предельно точной». Вся эта критика касалась распространенных на рынке конструкторов, воспроизво­дящих конкретные архитектурные стили, в том числе историзированные Там же. .


Набор LEGO «Замок». 1978 год © Издательский дом «Новое литературное обозрение»

Пожалуй, связь между LEGO и широким послевоенным дискурсом «хороших игрушек» яснее всего демонстрируют десять принципов игры, которые в 1962 году установил Кристиансен. Он сделал их частью философии и политики компании:

1. Неограниченные возможности игры.
2. Для мальчиков и девочек.
3. Для всех возрастов.
4. Игра круглый год.
5. Здоровая спокойная игра.
6. Длинная игра на много часов.
7. Развитие, воображение, творчество.
8. Чем больше LEGO, тем интересней.
9. Доступны дополнительные наборы.
10. Качество — в каждой детали Эти принципы часто звучат и в корпоративной литературе, и в комментариях сторонних экспертов. См.: H. Wiencek. World of LEGO Toys. New York, 1987. .

Хотя эти принципы выдвигают на первый план детский игровой опыт и фор­мулируют его в обобщенных жизнеутверждающих выражениях, в них все равно обнаруживается главный рекламный мотив LEGO: компания удачно для себя связывает игровой потенциал конструктора с тем, сколько наборов вы купили. Таким образом, компания открыто объявила творчество и воображение своими ключевыми ценностями, определяющими корпоративный кодекс, что позво­лило рекламировать LEGO как «мирную» и более созидательную альтернативу другим игрушкам. LEGO превратило эти ценности в двигатель прибыльной стратегии, в русле которой и стал в дальнейшем развиваться дизайн конструктора.

I played with LEGOs from as long as I could remember and I have always wondered when LEGO came into existence. I know that it predates my existence, but by how much is what I didn't know. This was one reason I embarked on this journey to find the history of LEGO, first lego set and how it all began.

LEGO is said to have started in a Danish carpentry workshop during the early 1930s. From that time to now, it has continued to blossom beyond our expectations. If we are talking about a toy line that has outshone Barbie, LEGO will come up. It is rare to see any kid or adult that hasn't heard of the toy series. You can come across different LEGO products and when services like LEGO MOVIES, LEGO VIDEO GAMES, LEGO RETAIL STORES, LEGO BOARD GAMES, LEGOLAND THEME PARK, as well as LEGO Serious Play.

This company came into existence and has continuously affected different aspects of different cultures. Not minding that the company has grown tremendously, it is still privately held. It is not traded on any stock exchange. It is a wonder how they could expand to almost all corners of the world, and still be traded privately.

LEGO's Marketing Skills - How It Started

Well, LEGO's marketing skills are top-notch and are currently being studied in schools. We can't help but say that one reason the company has succeeded is because of the fact that they have a team of geniuses at their beck and call.

It has been said that this company started out in Denmark, in a carpentry workshop. It was run by Ole Kirk Christiansen. This Carpenter decided to own a workshop and start operating as a carpenter in the 1910s. This carpentry shop had been in existence before he bought it. It is said that the carpentry shop came into being in 1895.

The aim of the shop was to provide woodwork services to clients from around the region. They made different types of furniture. If you were looking for top-notch furniture, you had no choice but to patronize this shop. Apart from that, they were involved in the building comes.

In 1924, it is believed that this precious carpentry workshop was burnt to ashes. The fire started and burnt harder because of the wood shavings that abounded in the shop.

Kirk decided to build another carpentry shop, but this time, it was bigger. He wanted to enlarge his coast and the number of works that he did.

When he did this, the Great Depression came knocking, and this made Kirk lose a lot of his clients. When there were no longer big projects, he decided to take on smaller ones.

What he did was create smaller models of the wooden products that he made, to form as a design aid. He created smaller versions of ironing boards, stepladders and so on. When he saw how cute they were, he decided to veer into the production of toys.

When 1932 came along, Kirk began the creation of wooden toys for kids. Some toys that he made were trucks, cars, pull toys, piggy banks, houses and so on.

Since it was during the Great Depression that he started making these toys, they were not as profitable as he would have wished.

To buy the toys for their kids, some farmers were known to exchange their foods for toys. It was traded by barter exchange. Kirk didn't stop creating normal-sized furniture but he combined them with the creation of toys.

When the yo-yo trend happened in the mid-1930s, Kirk benefited greatly from it, until people lost interest. To ensure that waste was clamped down to the barest minimum, Kirk decided to refurbish those remaining yo-yo components to toy trucks' wheels.

When his son grew older, he started to work in the carpentry shop, and he is seen to be one of those that propelled the existence of this company.

Kirk decided to hold an internal competition for his workers to come up with the perfect name for the company. This occurred in the mid-1930s, and the winner was to take home homemade wine.

Many of the workers went for the name, Legio, which was meant to take the form of "Legion of toys". Some went for 'Lego', which meant "play well" in Danish.


After some time went by, the company realized that the word, "Lego" meant "I put together" in another popular language, Latin. Kirk loved the name, Lego, and decided that all his products would bear that name.

When the Second World War was over, Denmark had a lot of plastics in existence and this made the company decide to buy a plastic injection molding machine. This change was made in the year, 1947.

A truck was created and it is said to be amongst the first modular toys. You could assemble the pieces together and take them apart. You could assemble them again.

Kirk and Godtfred decided to do some research in other companies in existence then, and one of them was Kiddicraft. They bought some plastic bricks that had been made by their competitors and divided to analyze them.

Hilary Fisher Page was the designer of the building blocks for Kiddicraft. He had sought for it to be patented by him. The plastic block was one that had four studs on it to ensure that another one could be placed on top of it effortlessly.

LEGO decided to start creating bricks that were similar to that of its competitors. When they did, they christened the bricks, "Automatic Binding Bricks." Those bricks were created using cellulose acetate. They were fashioned to look like the standard wooden blocks, which were easily placed on top of another one. They were made to fit effortlessly, though they were not held onto one another in a tight manner.

The company decided to call these bricks, 'LEGO Bricks' in 1953.

When plastic products were being sold by the Group, a lot of clients didn't fancy them. They preferred metallic or wooden toys because they felt that they lasted longer. Do you know that most of the shipments sent by the company was sent back because they refused to sell?

During the mid-1950s, Godtfred was already LEGO's junior managing director.

One day, he was talking with a buyer that was not in Denmark and a thought came to him. He could make a string of toys or your series, with a lot of toys that were related been made.

When he analyzed the products that they had on the ground, it dawned on him that using plastic bricks would make the process easier for the system or series go work

This made LEGO churn out the "Town Plan" in 1955.

When he churned out this system, there was an increase in sales for them. People embraced it in a moderate manner, but there was a snag with it. When you look at its technical aspect, you had no choice but to notice its ineffectual "locking" ability. It was not as flexible as many people wanted.

To improve this snag, LEGO decides to make use of hollow tubes underneath the brick. These changes were made in 1958.

With this alteration, it was able to have the needed base support, allowing it to be a lot flexible and bask in awesome locking ability.

LEGO decided to patent this design, and other designs to prevent competitors from using them. In 1958, Kirk died and Godtfred became the new owner of the firm.

Fire decided to visit LEGO's warehouse again and many of the wooden toys that were in existence were fitted by the fire. This made Godtfred make the decision of throwing away the production of wooden toys and go for plastic solely. Then, a lot of clients were embracing the plastic toys.

When this occurred, Godtfred and his brothers, Gerhardt had a serious misunderstanding. They resigned from their father's company and decided to create their own firm, " Bilofix."

When the year had come to an end, LEGO had close to five hundred workers.

When the early 1960s dawned upon the world, the company decided that they wanted to gain a market share in North America. There was an issue with that plan. They didn't have the right logistical capabilities to achieve this feat.

The company decided to strike a deal with another company, Samsonite. The latter was allowed to create LEGO products and sell them to those in North America.

In the early 1960s, the first-ever LEGO wheels were manufactured. The company had decided to increase the capability of the vehicles that it made.

Within that era, the company decided to create toys that were meant for those that we're currently in pre-school.

When 1964 was upon us, the material that was utilized in the creation of the bricks, cellulose acetate was tossed away. The company decided to go for a more stable material, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS plastic). It is even used up to the present day.

This is because ABS is not dangerous and is not easily discolored. Users don't have to worry about it being warped. Apart from that, it is known to be resistant to a lot of chemicals, salt, acids and even heat to a large extent.

The company catering to North America for LEGO, Samsonite, didn't make this alteration during the time that LEGO did. They utilized some amount of cellulose acetate in what they created.

Once the mid-1960s was upon us, LEGO decided to add guidelines to the First LEGO set that it made.

We won't be wrong if we said that the LEGO train system is a very lucrative series made by this company. It was first created in 1966.

When it was made, it had rails, 4.5- volt, battery box, as well as a motor.

To commemorate the success of LEGO, the company decided to create Legoland Park in 1968. This was created in the home town of LEGO, Billund.

This park had a lot of incredible features that depicted LEGO and its products. They were created using solely Lego bricks.

When it opened, it had gotten 625,000 visitors in only one year.

Now, it has millions of visitors annually and expanded to close to ten times its initial size. Who wouldn't want to go to the home town of LEGO?

The Duplo System

LEGO decided to churn out the Duplo system in 1969. They were made to be a lot bigger than the LEGO bricks to ensure that kids could effortlessly play with them. LEGO didn't want kids choking or getting injured by tinier bricks.

The Duplo bricks could easily fit the LEGO ones. They were loved for their compatibility. Both were designed in such a way that smaller kids could easily transition to having LEGO bricks when they were older.

LEGO got the name, Duplo, from Latin. It means double.

As the twentieth century moved, the company continued to improve its creation of toys and how they were marketed.

LEGO decided to create a market for girls by creating dollhouses as well as female furniture.

You could also see ship sets and even boats in 1972. Godtfred's son- Kjeld- became a member of the management circle during that era. This came about after he had earned some business degrees in Denmark and Switzerland.

LEGO has moved on to be the best producers of toys, with state of the art manufacturing and research facilities.

Conclusion

LEGO didn't come into existence today. It has been around for decades and will continue to be in existence. Now, that you know the creation story of this company, you can tell that we are a part of a legacy.

Do you have First LEGO SET that you want to beautify? You can do this with customized lighting bricks. Talk to us today.

Chris, have a look on a site called “brick link” its pretty easy to navigate and has links to pretty much any lego piece you want

I was born in 1950 in England we had some brick blocks that felt a little rubbery. We’re they your bricks.?

I’ve got bucket loads of vintage star wars Lego but over the course of time I’ve lost certain bits, can I replace them from Lego

We kept the Lego sets we bought in the early 1980s for our 2 daughters and now our 2 grandchildren play with them. Thanks Lego

If all you know about LEGO is that they are plastic brick toys…well, you know nothing, Jon Snow. By far, LEGO is one of the most popular brands, and not just because of the pain you experience when you step on a LEGO brick. The company has come a very long way and its origin is pretty interesting, considering that its owner started out producing wooden toys, not plastic. In fact, it was believed that plastic toys would never be able to fully replace wooden toys because kids generally disliked plastic back then. However, LEGO revolutionized this pattern, and now LEGO toys are amongst the top favorite with kids and even adults.

On the picture above - LEGO wooden toys.

Perhaps, one of the major reasons LEGO is so widespread today is because they cater to kids and adults alike. It is now common to see adults playing with LEGO bricks without any self-consciousness. In fact, it is considered “cool” if you can build LEGO sets creatively and quickly. Plus, some LEGO sets are simply too expensive to be bought for kids and are actually suited for adults, especially since LEGO has a track record of designing sets based on real-life structures and even historical events, for instance, the Apollo 11 Lunar Lander. Also, the LEGO Bugatti Chiron is an excellent and detailed rendition of the actual Bugatti Chiron that costs a whopping £2.5 million.

LEGO has long been a favorite. The LEGO origin, the story behind the company and the toy itself will make fans love LEGO even more.

On the picture above - Ole Kirk Christiansen at his desk, 1934. - founder of the LEGO

LEGO History (The LEGO Group)

The LEGO Group started out as a small company owned by Ole Kirk Christiansen who had been making wooden toys since 1932. Initially, he only made wooden toys and not plastic, but later on, by 1947, the company started producing plastic toys. Now these toys were not the LEGO building bricks as we know them today but simply toys made out of plastic. It was in 1949 that the company starting making interlocking bricks, of course, at the time they were in their simplest forms. Nowadays, LEGO creates more and more complex as well as interesting pieces.

The name “LEGO” was derived from the Danish term leg godt which means “play well.” Funny enough, although only the first two letters of each word were combined to form “LEGO,” the term has its own meaning as well in Latin which is “I put together.” Ole Kirk had no idea this would be the resulting meaning in another language, making it amazing and ironic what LEGO actually turned to – a company that makes bricks you put together!

In accordance with The LEGO Group’s motto, which when translated means “The best is not too good,” Christiansen encouraged his employees to produce top quality at all times. This is why the company has never compromised on quality and keeps looking for new ways to make better, more sustainable brick pieces. With new innovations year after year, by 2015, LEGO was named the “world’s most powerful brand,” taking the place of Ferrari.

LEGO Toy History

While the production of plastic toys started in 1949, it was only in 1978 that the company produced the first mini-figures. Since then, there have been various types of LEGO toys, including spaceships, supercars, and even treehouses. There seems to be no limit to the types of sets LEGO can create. In essence, LEGO toys are so popular that they are used as teaching tools and even just as display pieces in homes and offices.

Top LEGO Facts You Should Know

On the picture above - famous YouTube star MrBeast

1. There are about 20 billion LEGO bricks created each year.

2. According to a professor of Mathematics, any six 2x4 LEGO bricks can be combined in 915 million ways. Well, no one has ever had the time and patience to actually do this, but hey, you could be the first.

3. LEGO is the largest tire manufacturer in the world. This is attributed to the fact that LEGO actually produces about 306 million tires every year.

4. Since 1949 when the company started making plastic toys, there have been about 440 billion LEGO elements produced.

5. Initially, Minifigures were supposed to have only one color (yellow) with a happy facial expression. In recent times, however, we see Minifigures with all kinds of facial expressions and even multiple colors.

6. In total, there have been 4 billion Minifigures ever produced. This makes them the largest population group in the world. That’s right, Minifigures by far outnumber your population group. Imagine if they came to life…

On the picture above - Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen - CEO of The Lego Group

7. The founder, Ole Kirk Christiansen, passed down ownership to his grandson, Kjeld Kirk Christiansen, who now runs the company with his children.

8. If LEGO bricks could be shared amongst all the people in the world, each one would get about 62 bricks. That’s a statistical way of saying there’s a crapload of LEGO bricks in the world!

9. The Minifigure population is over 80% male. Okay, feminists, here’s your chance.

10. Prior to 2018, most LEGO pieces were made entirely from ABS plastics. This means that these pieces can never decompose. In a bid to create more sustainable LEGO pieces, the company started using plastic sourced from sugarcane to produce the pieces we see today.

11. The first LEGO treehouse was made of 3.3 million bricks (talk about attention to detail!) Plus, the house was not just a toy, it actually had a working toilet, and bed…not that you could use it though, after all, it is a much smaller version of a real house.

12. LEGO became the second-largest toymaker in the world in 2014, falling just behind Mattel.

13. The Harry Potter set has the first Minifigure (Quirrell) to be double-sided, featuring both a good side and a bad side. It’s pretty safe to say it was two-faced.

14. There are no LEGO sets based on war because the founder did not want war to become attractive or normal to kids.

15. Initially, LEGO did not make licensed sets, hence it was only in 1999 that Minifigures could feature small toy guns.

16. The first-ever LEGO Minifigure created was a police officer.

17. LEGO is big on consistency, especially in terms of quality. The LEGO bricks made in 1952 can still fit perfectly on LEGO bricks made in 2019.

On the picture above - First LEGO Star Wars set. LEGO X-WING FIGHTER 7140

18. LEGO’s first themed set was Star Wars which it licensed in 1999.

19. There is no such thing as “LEGOs.” The plural of LEGO is still LEGO.

20. There are so many LEGO pieces in the world that if you connect about 40 million LEGO bricks end to end, the column can reach the moon.

Most Expensive LEGO Sets Ever Made

With great value comes great cost. Since its inception, LEGO has created some very expensive sets that could definitely create a dent or two in your bank account. While some of these sets were expensive from the onset, most only became so valuable after they had been taken off the market. You may even have some of these in your attic. So, it probably wouldn’t be wise to throw out all your old LEGO sets because it just might be worth a fortune. Let’s look at some of the highest-priced and most valuable LEGO sets in LEGO history.

1. LEGO First Edition Millennium Falcon

LEGO First Edition Millennium Falcon - This is by far one of the most valuable LEGO sets you can find (that’s if you can still find it today). Its highest sale price was a whopping $15,000! Although there are some factors that caused this huge hike in its price such as it being sold in an airtight case and in Las Vegas, it is still pretty expensive on a normal day. It can be sold for an average of $4500 and its original price was only $450. So, if you happen to have a first edition Millennium Falcon somewhere in your attic, well, you’re sitting on a fortune.

2. LEGO First Edition Taj Mahal

LEGO First Edition Taj Mahal - This LEGO set was considered a masterpiece and its highest sale price was about $3800. It was often in competition with the Millennium Falcon in terms of value but we all know who won that title.

3. LEGO Minifigures Series 10, Mr. Gold

LEGO Minifigures Series 10, Mr. Gold - Well, with a name like “Mr. Gold,” why wouldn’t it cost a lot? This is not actually a LEGO set but a Minifigure and it alone was valued on the average at $1,800. In fact, LEGO Minifigures can be very expensive and can take up to 50% of the total price of a set.

4. LEGO Statue of Liberty

LEGO 3450 Statue of Liberty - This set happens to be as valuable as the Eiffel Tower. While on average it can be sold for $2000, there is one boxed set of the LEGO Statue of Liberty that is priced at a shocking $5000.

Without a doubt, LEGO has come a pretty long way and is still going farther. We can only wait patiently to see what’s in store for us in the coming years. What do you think LEGO should create next?

What’s missing is the fact that LEGO was manufactured and marketed in the U. S. for 5 years in the early ’60’s, by Samsonite (through a licensing agreement with LEGO). I know because my PR firm represented Samsonite and put LEGO on the map with many “firsts”: LEGO/Children’s Fashion Show (in which my son and daughter modeled) at NY’s FAO Schwarz; LEGO play area in the Danish Pavilion at the NY World’s Fair; “city of the future” (model built by Pratt Institute architecture students) featured on the TODAY SHOW (this was its first major TV news segment); LEGO TRAIN (from Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens) in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in 1968); building contests in many department stores throughout the country…and dozens more “firsts.” All that said…just to keep the record straight.

There are now tons of mini figures that have two faces.

The Star Wars themed set really paved the way for Lego to reach the peak of being a business empire. Tapping the Star Wars market was such a smart choice because they pieced together two of the most loyal fanbases in the world. You can read more about how the Star Wars franchise impacted Lego’s business empire from The Toy Report. They have a coverage of Lego’s history, from the foundation story, their owner, and where the company stands today

Everyone's favorite building blocks were born in 1958

Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images

  • B.A., History, University of California at Davis

The small, colorful bricks that encourage a child's imagination with their multitude of building possibilities have spawned two movies and Legoland theme parks. But more than that, these simple building blocks keep children as young as 5 engaged in creating castles, towns and space stations, and anything else their creative minds can think of. This is the epitome of the educational toy wrapped up in fun. These attributes have made Lego an icon in the toy world.

Beginnings

The company that makes these famous interlocking bricks started as a small shop in Billund, Denmark. The company was established in 1932 by master carpenter Ole Kirk Christiansen, who was aided by his 12-year-old son Godtfred Kirk Christiansen. It made wooden toys, stepladders, and ironing boards. It wasn't until two years later that the business took the name of Lego, which came from the Danish words "LEg GOdt," meaning "play well."

Over the next several years, the company grew exponentially. From just a handful of employees in the early years, Lego had grown to 50 employees by 1948. The product line had grown as well, with the addition of a Lego duck, clothes hangers, a Numskull Jack on the goat, a plastic ball for babies, and some wooden blocks.

In 1947, the company made a huge purchase that was to transform the company and make it world-famous and a household name. In that year, Lego bought a plastic injection-molding machine, which could mass produce plastic toys. By 1949, Lego was using this machine to produce about 200 different kinds of toys, which included automatic binding bricks, a plastic fish and a plastic sailor. The automatic binding bricks were the predecessors of the Lego toys of today.

Birth of the Lego Brick

In 1953, the automatic binding bricks were renamed Lego bricks. In 1957, the interlocking principle of Lego bricks was born, and in 1958, the stud-and-coupling system was patented, which added significant stability to built pieces. And this transformed them into the Lego bricks children use today. Also in 1958, Ole Kirk Christiansen died and his son Godtfred became head of the Lego company.

By the early 1960s, Lego had gone international, with sales in Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Germany, and Lebanon. Over the next decade, Lego toys were available in more countries, and they came to the United States in 1973.

Lego Sets

In 1964, for the first time, consumers could buy Lego sets, which included all the parts and instructions to build a particular model. In 1969, the Duplo series—bigger blocks for smaller hands—was introduced for the 5-and-under set. Lego later introduced themed lines, including town (1978), castle (1978), space (1979), pirates (1989), Western (1996), Star Wars (1999), and Harry Potter (2001). Figures with movable arms and legs were introduced in 1978.

As of 2018, Lego has sold 75 billion of its bricks in more than 140 countries   Since the middle of the 20th century, these small plastic bricks have sparked the imagination of children around the world, and Lego sets have a stronghold on their place at the top of the list of the world's most popular toys.

children playing with legos

Mary Bellis covered inventions and inventors for ThoughtCo for 18 years. She is known for her independent films and documentaries, including one about Alexander Graham Bell.

Hailed as the “Toy of the Century,” the plastic Lego bricks that make up the Lego System of Play were invented by Ole Kirk Christiansen, a master carpenter, and his son, Godtfred Kirk. From these small interlocking bricks, which can be connected to assemble an infinite number of designs, Lego has evolved into a huge worldwide enterprise that makes toys and movies and runs theme parks.

But before all that, Lego began as a carpentry business in the village of Billund, Denmark in 1932. Although he initially made stepladders and ironing boards, wooden toys became Christiansen’s most successful product.

The company adopted the name LEGO in 1934. LEGO is formed from the Danish words "LEg GOdt" meaning "play well." Fittingly enough, the company later learned that in Latin, "lego" means "I put together."

In 1947, the LEGO company was the first in Denmark to use a plastic injection molding machine for making toys. This allowed the company to manufacture Automatic Binding Bricks, created in 1949. These larger bricks, sold only in Denmark, deployed the stud-and-tube coupling system that was the forerunner of the Lego bricks the world has come to know.

Five years later, in 1954, the redesigned components were renamed "LEGO Mursten" or "LEGO Bricks" and the word LEGO was officially registered as a trademark in Denmark, positioning the company to launch the "LEGO System of Play" with 28 sets and 8 vehicles.

Today Lego is one of the biggest and most profitable toy companies in the world, with little sign of slowing down. And the LEGO brand has gone well beyond plastic toys: dozens of video games based on LEGO have been released, and in 2014 debuted to critical acclaim.

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