If you look through any child’s toy chest you will find pieces of Lego. The multi coloured bricks have maintained their popularity since their introduction over 50 years ago. In 2000 Lego won a prestigious award ‘Toy of the Century’ by Fortune Magazine as well as by the British Toy Retailers Association. It beat Action Man, Barbie and other popular toys.
The Lego group’s origins began in 1932 when Ole Kirk Christiansen started making toys out of wood for children. It took until 1958 for the Lego brick as we know it today to be conceived. The colourful bricks were simple and durable; therefore they were ideal for children to play with. The plastic brick can be joined together to make a wall or other shapes which children can easily build or take apart. Over the years the design has hardly changed and today’s bricks can still be interlocked with the bricks produced in 1958.
Why Lego has become so popular is mainly due to the fact that Lego can be built into so many shapes that the only limit is the extent of a child’s imagination. The bricks are so versatile that Lego has calculated that six, eight-stud bricks can be arranged in 915,103,763 different ways.
Lego bricks today are manufactured in the company’s main factory in Denmark. The bricks are produced so precisely that the company claims for every million bricks made only 18 are defective and removed.
After the original bricks were produced Christiansen’s son and successor to the Lego group, conceived Lego Duplo in the early 1960’s for smaller children. This made it easier for younger children to hold the bricks as they were much larger.
The next big leap in creation for Lego was the Lego figure in 1974. The small yellow coloured figures gave children a different way of playing with Lego. They could now move and interact with the Lego toy. Since 1974 billions of Lego figures have been manufactured ranging from Walt Disney Characters to Lego clocks.
Lego might seem outdated by present day high-tech toys, but it continues to thrive by working with today’s popular themes. For example in 2004 Lego launched Lego factory where anyone can design and build their own Lego model and have it posted to their home.
Lego also joined forces with Lucas Arts for a publishing deal for video games which has given the company a new lease of life. For instance Lego star Wars 2 sold 1.1 million units in its first week of release.
However it has not all been a success story. In the early 2000’s Lego was struggling to make an impact in the toy market it once had. The problems started in the late 1990’s when the company stopped focusing on design. There figures didn’t require much building skills or very little imagination. Also they were very similar to other toy manufacturers.