(Written by Taryn)
Just the other day we were celebrating LEGO’s 80th birthday (read here: Wishing Happy 80th Birthday to LEGO!), so I got interested in digging a bit into LEGO’s history. I’m a KFOL (Kid-Fan-of-LEGO), so I thought this would be useful for other kids my age, and adults may find something interesting too. 🙂
All right, so you got every LEGO set imaginable in your room. You have LEGO minifigures in an orderly fashion on your shelf in a special display-case made of LEGO bricks. Once you get off that school-bus you dump your bag and start playing with your LEGO Star Wars spaceship. Your mom constantly reminds you to empty your pockets full of minifigures because she keeps getting them in the wash. (I lost my favorite minifig at my best friend’s driveway. It got all scratched up.) You want to dress up as a LEGO brick for Halloween… you are obviously a LEGO fan… 🙄
But how much do you know about LEGO’s past? Where did LEGO start? What in the world does LEGO even mean? Well I’m going to let you in on some LEGO facts that you may have not known…
The LEGO Company was started in 1932 by a man named Ole Kirk Christiansen in Billund, Denmark. In 1934 he came up with the LEGO name by combining and abbreviating two Danish words, LEG GODT, which means “play well”. Ole Kirk died in 1958, and the company was handed down to one of his sons, Godtfred.
This was also the time the company launched the LEGO bricks as we know them today, with the “clutch-power” for the bricks to cling to each other and separate easily. Really, if it weren’t for that clutch-power LEGO bricks would be all over the place! Did you know that the main character in LEGO: The Adventures of Clutch Powers, is a reference to that? 😎
One amazing thing is that LEGO bricks made in 1958 are still compatible with, and can stick to LEGO bricks made today! Here is a nice video on LEGO’s history and a tour of the LEGO factory in Denmark:
In 1962 LEGO started experimenting with motors, and 4 years later the first LEGO Train is introduced with a 4.5 Volt motor and rails.
In 1968 the first LEGOLAND is opened in Billund, Denmark. It’s right next to the original LEGO factory.
In 1969, LEGO DUPLO is launched. It was made with little kiddies in mind so they made the LEGO bricks bigger.
The first modern LEGO minifigure was released in 1978. In LEGO started giving the first pirate minifigs different facial expressions instead of the usual dot eyes and simple smile. With the Pirates theme also came the first hook-arms and peg-legs.
In 1998 the LEGO group made an agreement with Lucasfilm to launch a series of Star Wars sets based on the movies. The agreement was recently extended by another 10 years.
In 1999 a LEGOLAND Park opened in California, and another one in Germany in 2002. LEGOLAND Florida opened in 2011; it is the world’s largest LEGOLAND Park.
In 2006 the first LEGO League Tournament Finals takes place in Atlanta, Georgia. 80 teams of kids from 30 countries around the world participated in the competition.
In 2009, LEGO introduces buildable board-games to enhance family game nights. They turned out to be quite fun!
In 2011, LEGO chooses Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest building – as the latest set in the LEGO Architecture series. It’s the first building in the series to represent a building outside of North America. (Which I find sort of funny since LEGO was founded in Denmark, not the USA.)
Here are some other fun facts about LEGO and the company:
- LEGO should always be written in capital letters.
- LEGO was named Toy of the Century by Fortune Magazine and by the British Association of Toy Retailers.
- There are 2200 types of Lego pieces. (How in the world did they get a number exactly on a hundred?)
- There are 19 billion pieces being made every year, 2 million per hour and 36000 per minute!
- There are 55 LEGO brick colors.
- LEGO is the largest tire-manufacturer in the world.
- This is how LEGO bricks are made: ABS plastic is heated to 232 Celsius until it becomes really soft but not that it drips. The plastic is then put into molds at a pressure depending on the type of piece being made (25-150 tons). It takes 7 seconds for the plastic to cool.
- The LEGO Company guesses that out of every 1,000,000 LEGO bricks made only 18 will be rejected due to some defect.
- The LEGO Group’s motto is “Det bedste er ikke for godt” which roughly means “Only the best is good enough”. It was a saying by Ole Kirk.
- The Official Online LEGO Shop was started in 1996.
That’s the end of our little tour of LEGO’s past and the present. As for the future, my guess is that LEGO will continue being successful, continue making new LEGO themes and people will continue enjoying LEGO well into the future!
To write this article I mainly used Fact Monster and Wikipedia. Please note that some of the dates did not match on the various sites I used for research, so there might be some discrepancy. Also, I’m a KFOL (Kid-Fan-of-LEGO) and this is my first article at theBrickBlogger. Feedback and comments are appreciated! 😉
So, did you learn anything new or interesting about the history of LEGO? Or are you saying to your computer, “Of course I knew all this stuff!” I learned a lot just by writing this article! Got any more fun facts for me and our readers? Share them below! And you may also like to check out:
Nice article! 😀 And very interesting!
Very very nicely written, I’m impressed!
One thing about the 80th Anniversary video that I was disappointed in was that they didn’t mention much about Ole Kirk’s other 3 sons… Gerhardt, Johannes and Karl-Georg. They were also heavily involved with the company (mainly the non-plastic areas) but once the wooden toy warehouse burned down in 1960, they disagreed with Godtfred’s plans on not to rebuild. So they left the company when Godtfred bought them out around 1961, and pursued other toy interests (Bilotoy and Bilofix). However, those toys didn’t last too long, before going under.
Also, central Jutlund, the main part of Denmark, can get very cold in the winter. When Ole Kirk was ailing from his illnesses in the mid 1950s, he spent the cold months convalescing in Germany, where the climate was warmer (but nothing like Florida). So yes Denmark is a cold place in the winter time.
Great job, and you’ll make a fine AFOL one of these days.
Gary, thanks for sharing those tidbits! Very interesting! 🙂
lol, as i said below, the video wasn’t me. I don’t know for sure where admin got it. 😀
Thank you 🙂
I think it’s on the LEGO website, in not at least it’s on brickset 😉
Actually I might be wrong. Got confused there somewhere.
my uncle owns that but its sadly destroyed! 😥 (but i have the monkey it came with! ) (im referring to the pirate ship 😉 )
The Black Seas Barracuda in my opinion was and is the best Pirate Ship ever designed aside from the Imperial Flag Ship from last year… I don’t think the Black Pearl or QAR are better than the BSB. Us old folk have so many of those monkeys layin’ around, I’m happy the TFOLs appreciate them so much though Jay.
im not a TOFL yet 🙄 but next feb!
does your uncle know that the BSB is now worth more than $500??? You should introduce him to Bricklink so he can get his missing parts and rebuild it… you might have to give him teh monkey back though LOL
PTFOL: Pre-Teen Fan of LEGO 😀
Micho, you are not the only one who considers the BSB as the best pirate ship. It is a favorite of many LEGO fans. Interestingly, I don’t have a single monkey… I don’t know why. 😕
I have a monkey.
I have one or two from my uncle also. traded one with my sister.
Oh 🙁 … I think I might have close to 10 monkeys, they over saturated them in every pirate set in the 80s and 90s, even the minifig packs and the impulse sets me thinks. I really like the new little monkey from the CMFs they should have put a little pirate outfit on him for the POTC sets so he could be Jack the monkey
LOL! I actually do have a monkey from the CMF Tarsan guy! I just forgot! 😀
yeah I used one of those to add to my POTC BP
Yeah, I have two of that kind, but none of the other either (I kind of wish I got bannana balance) 😉
I had one for about 30 seconds.
i wanna be a lego designer when im older but i hope theres a place in florida!
I think you have to move to Denmark for that job
Jay, if you want to be a LEGO designer you will need to move to Billund. That is the only place LEGO designers work. I know of another teen who just moved there because he was choosen from some candidates to become a future designer. If you want to live your dream, you sometimes need to make some sacrifices. 😉
I am thinking of asking lego to make a 100 person elite force that Work At Home! In the future of course. This would be a part time job but they could be sent to lego events in the area as representatives. I just want to work 🙁 I work in video.
well guess im not living my dream! 😥
Oh, come on… don’t be sad. You have plenty of time! You are still so young! And anyway, you live in Florida, which is a dream for many people. So just appreciate what you got, and more good things will come to you. 😉
………………………well its just…………..i dont know i just wanna work at as a lego designer but wanna still live in florida…
hey Jay, don’t worry, it’s my dream to move to San Diego California but I can’t right now because if I sold my house I would lose a lot of money, but I’m still hoping to move sometime within the next 5 to 8 years… You have so many years to go through still, but if you make it one of your priorities to move to Billund you can DEW it!!!
i need to move to billund to be a lego designer darn
Yeah, seems like. It’s a nice little place. I’m not sure about their winters though. We Floridians would probably freeze! 🙄
aww come on, the cold isnt that bad!! if billund is that cold i think it would be even more worth it to move!
He-he… some of us here in Florida are a little whimpy as far as cold goes. If it goes below 60 I freak out and wear my winter jacket. 😉
why do you even have a winter jacket in florida? it’s so hot. me on the other hand, i dont like hot places year round
Taryn, most of my family is in Chicago, and I lived there for a long time as well, but then got tired of the cold and 6 months long winters. That’s why I still have a winter jacket. 😉
People down hre are like that too. . . well, after you live in Ohio for 6 years, you don’t really mind cold so much! (Except when you can see your breath inside your house. That’s cold.)
Yeah, you remind me of some very bad winters up North… there was one winter when we had 2-3 foot long icecicles hanging INSIDE our windows. Brrrr! 🙁
OK, at least there aren’t any icicles! (No ice here, just a lot of wind and rain. Once in a blue moon it hails, too, but that’s rare. Except the day after my mom said it never hailed. Then it hailed! 😆 )
LOL! I love when stuff like that happens! It always proves to me that someone is listening… and has a good sense of humor. 🙄
I dont wear a jacket if its 30 degress.
do they have a lego factory and a lego designer place at legoland florida? 🙂
The short answer is no. 😉
Here are some more fun facts (some of them might be the same) :http://www.planitnorthwest.com/shopping/pdfs/legolandfunfacts.pdf
cool. i dont think everybody uses their own lego bricks. the ones made for every single person. more for us! 😀
Nice article Taryn! Did you get my email?
So do you have any article ideas? Just email them to me! 😉
For a school project we had to do a poster and oral on an invention of our choice so I chose LEGO 😀
Great choice! 😀
Hi everyone, there is a link to a $5 free coupon from TRU… I’m gonna test it out today and see if I can get a free LEGO polybag since they’re priced at $4.99. The coupon is for $5 off a single item, it expires tomorrow…
I was my name, and a buyer/dealer from the time my youngest son was 6 til 14. What I had to make myself were male & female “reversing” plates. and angle fin blocks .Of course the thickness was off and LEGO never responded to my correspondence . After son gave up, I spent a year cataloging and selling off my stock. Stupid me sold a 3lb bag of mini-figs (w/Star Wars characters) for $5. When I learned to use the pricing guides at bricklink I found CP3O & R2D2 were worth ± 20. each ! Well I was “old” and still am.
That for sharing. It is always sad to hear when people sell their LEGO. Especially if they are not aware of the prices. But you can always hope that they went into good hands and made someone else happy. 🙂
I think the number of colors may be official by LEGO, but its a little short by fan standards. I just listed all the different colors I could think of (and I bet there are more I didn’t list) and I got 61. Granted, I listed old and new colors (old grays and new grays, etc. ) different.
Jacob, yeah if you include the discontinued colors, there are a lot more. Here is the color list form Bricklink: https://www.bricklink.com/catalogColors.asp That’s over 120 colors, not including Modulex. 🙂
I knew most of that stuff, but oh well, its still interesting!
I never want to give up my LEGO sets, but, when I get older and run out of space for my LEGO sets . I plan on giving my LEGO sets to an orphanage. I believe all children should experience the magic of LEGO.
Nice find! 😀
What do you mean nice find?
Sorry about that. I was commenting on Micho’s link. I guess I put the comment in the wrong place. 😳
not me, I’m giving my LEGO to my kids (if we ever have any) or my younger cousins, and not just any cousins, only the ones that I actually see take care of their collection, so I know they will be handed down to the generation after the next in my family.
i meet skylar laine yaaay
Nobody mentions “Jack the LEGO Maniac” in these articles… I wonder what happened to that kid (adult now)??? I still have the Jack songs from the commercials stuck in my head LOL… the 90s were a crazy time LOL
I guess he was played by different kids and his original name was “Zach/Zack” then went to “Jack” then back again to “Zach/Zack”… I just remember one and hes in the inside cover of those LEGO catalogs that came inside the bigger sets… who else remembers those catalogs ??? I think I have them from 1991 to almost 2000, I know I’m missing some though, but I have them in protective comic book sleeves
Jack the LEGO Maniac? LOL! I never heard of him before! I just looked him up on YouTube though. Cool commertials! 😀
Oh yeah, those commercials are burned into my brain… they used to come out during Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Garfield and Friends, Looney Tunes, the Disney Afternoon and all those 90s cartoons… mostly Saturday mornings
This is what I’m talking about… WOW!!!!
“MACK! MACK! BLACKTORN LEGO MANIAC!!!” … I’d like to think I too have the LEGO Mack… whatever it is or was LOL
Great post Taryn! Thanks for sharing that video too, very informative. 🙂
uhhh, the video kinda wasn’t me…
It was admin right?! 🙂
yeah. i didnt even realize that lego was having its birthday. i wrote that article sevrael weeks ago. i actually got the idea from a plane video. it was about lego. i didnt remember everything.
since i was 7 i kew what i will be a lego ??????????????
I played jack the Lego maniac in the 89 series of adverts, they were filmed in England at sheperton studios.. I now dj and produce music in London.. Thought you might like to know
You did?! Jack the LEGO Maniac is a legend! Would you like to write about your experience? 🙂
Thank you for your wonderful article. Really bring back my memory.