In 1932, a carpenter named Ole Kirk Kristiansen started making wooden toys in a small workshop in Billund, Denmark.
He named the small company LEGO, from the Danish acronym for "Leg Godt", which means "have fun."
Ole probably never thought that today, 90 years later, the small workshop has become a "building block kingdom" with more than 24,000 employees, 5 factories, 30+ product series, and sold to 118 countries and regions around the world. The colorful little particles make children and adults all love it.
Yes, the Lego that played with you from childhood to adulthood is 90 years old.
Start with a wooden duck
To celebrate its 90th anniversary, LEGO has launched a "90 Years of Play" set, which condenses 15 classic building block-themed mini-versions, most of which have long been discontinued.
In order to select the most popular and more representative themed building blocks, LEGO even launched a vote to fans in early 2021, and used the voting results for reference.
Such a full of emotions, new players looked at it coveted, and old players looked at it with tears. Of course, you can't miss the playthings, you must have a good time!
The packaging is marked with the year of 1932-2020. In addition to the Yellow Castle and the Pirate series Black Sea Barracuda, which are familiar to old players, there are also the Ninjago series in recent years. Now children can buy DIY pineapple pen holders, etc. This box, rounded up, is a LEGO chronicle.
This simple and smiling wooden duck is the starting point of everything.
▲ Soul wear 1932's original wooden duck (not in the suit)
Although Lego was founded in 1932, the transformation from wooden toys to building block particles has gone through a period of exploration. It was not until 1946 that Ole bought the first injection molding machine; in 1949, LEGO made the first plastic building block, which was called "self-bonding building block" at the time.
Based on these building blocks, Ole's son Godtfred later created the "Lego Play System". He believed that the more modular building blocks there are, the more possibilities for building. A mathematician later confirmed that a simple 6 pieces of 2 × 4 building block particles, there are more than 915 million spellings.
▲ 90th Anniversary Reissue
The coupling system for LEGO bricks was patented in 1958, and the design has remained the same ever since. This also means that the Lego bricks you buy today are still clickable and perfectly compatible with the out-of-print ones that were produced more than 60 years ago.
▲ The Lego electric train launched in 1966 can be driven by a 4.5V battery
▲ 90th Anniversary Reissue
1978 was a pretty big year for LEGO. This year, Ole's grandson Kjeld proposed the concept of "systematic play", and Lego began to launch themes such as castle series, space series, and town series.
▲ 1979 Classic Space Series
▲ 90th anniversary spaceship replica (left)
In addition, LEGO fans and friends know that the minifigure is the soul of the scene.
Also this year, iterative LEGO minifigures debuted with smiley faces & movable arms and legs for a more immersive role-playing experience.
Since then, it can be a knight living in a medieval castle, or an astronaut exploring the unknown in a spaceship. By changing clothes, hairstyles and props in his hands, he can perform a variety of flavors.
▲ The castle series launched in 1978, the minifigure has a saber and a mount, and also smiles
When someone asked 42-year LEGO designer Niels Milan Pedersen what his favorite LEGO set was, he replied that it was the pirate-themed Black Sea Barracuda from 1989.
▲ 90th Anniversary Black Sea Barracuda Reissue
Because of the addition of a story background with clear pros and cons, this is the first time that designers can finally draw different expressions on the faces of LEGO minifigures. The pirate captain donned a ferocious skull hat and blindfold, replaced his hands with hooks, and lost a leg; some of the other pirates also had sloppy effects such as bushy beards.
Other classics in "90 Years of Play" also have bright spots, such as the Bionic Warrior series launched in 2001, which was said to be Lego's best-selling product during the 2000-2010 period.
▲ Biochemical Warrior Reissue
Which middle school boy didn't have a ninja dream? The 2013 Ninjago series was so popular that it was later adapted into a 15-season long-lived cartoon.
▲ Phantom Ninja Remake
The pink-looking good friends series tells the lives and stories of five girls, breaking the stereotype that boys only play with building blocks, and helping Lego surpass Mattel, which owns Barbie dolls, and become the world's largest toy company one.
▲ 2017 Good Friends Series Reissue
The stories that LEGO has told for children and adults in the 1990s and the brain holes opened are not only in this classic set.
Architecture, art, machinery, city, movie IP joint name… So far, no matter men, women and children, from 104 years old to 4 years old can find their favorite LEGO-themed sets, enjoy the concentration and inspiration when building blocks.
No matter how old you are, long live the creation!
LEGO believes that tiny building blocks can inspire imagination and creativity. In the past 20 years, Lego itself has responded to the crisis of electronic screens, which is also full of creativity.
Now when it comes to the "old drivers" in the co-branding world, Lego is definitely indispensable.
On the one hand, since 1999, LEGO has maintained cooperation with multiple IPs such as "Star Wars", "Harry Potter" and "Batman", and has continuously launched co-branded plastic toys.
▲ LEGO x Super Mario
On the other hand, Lego has also extended its tentacles to games, movies and variety shows, hoping to bring Lego minifigures to more popular entertainment fields. For example, in 2014, he cooperated with Warner Films on "The Lego Movie"; this year's "Lego Star Wars: The Legend of Skywalker" game topped the sales list; last month, it announced that it would cooperate with "Fortnite" developer Epic , creating a safe and fun metaverse for children.
▲ "The Lego Movie", there are more Lego minifigures on the big screen
When plastic bricks become cultural symbols, Lego's crossover to the field of fashion clothing also seems logical.
Last year, Lego and Adidas launched a joint sneaker, which replaced the classic three bars with Lego bricks that can be freely combined and not repeated every day, which made people cry. Before that, it also cooperated with Levi's to launch playful jeans and sweaters.
In addition, LEGO is also exploring the layout in the field of education and theme parks, and actively responds to issues such as sustainability and accessibility… It can be said that LEGO is not only encouraging children and adults to play, but also realizing all kinds of whimsy in the spirit of play. Wonderful idea.
▲ Braille blocks for visually impaired children
When it comes to Lego's seemingly endless stream of ideas, I have to mention a little thing in 1998.
That year, Lego teamed up with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to launch the Mindstorms series, which can be used to develop programmable robots. The product was originally launched for children, but within 3 months of its release, thousands of adult users have cracked and hacked its code and made modifications.
The shocked Lego had two choices: one was to erect a high wall and sued the hackers; the other was to accept it calmly, and even take this as an opportunity to start an exchange of inspiration with users.
Kjeld, who is the third generation of the LEGO family, chose the latter, saying:
We should be a company that makes products that allow people to be creative.
▲ Kjeld took a photo with Mindstorms, from the documentary "Lego World"
This collision opened up LEGO's mentality. Designers started to draw inspiration from behind closed doors, and they gradually noticed that there were more LEGO fans' ideas sparkling.
Chicago architect Adam Reed Tucker is one such example.
From 2006, he began to use Lego bricks to make landmark building models, restore skyscrapers such as the Empire State Building in New York, and left a deep impression on the entire Lego community. Later, the LEGO designer and Adam carried out in-depth cooperation, which eventually led to the incubation and birth of the LEGO Architecture series.
▲ Adam with his LEGO work, pictured from The Henry Ford
In 2008, Lego decided to launch an official fan ideas platform, Lego Cuusoo (later renamed Lego Ideas).
Through this platform, LEGO can regularly publish events or competitions to invite fans to participate (such as voting for the 90th anniversary set), and fans can also upload their own LEGO creations. If the work gets enough votes, LEGO will hold an internal discussion about whether it is suitable for mass production.
Like the recently released Van Gogh's "Starry Night", it came from the work of a student in Hong Kong, China in his spare time.
This form of communication, with a "dream come true" romance, gives all players the opportunity to become designers of future LEGO products.
▲ LEGO designer Jamie Berard, at first, just got together and played among AFOLs
The 2022 LEGO Play Report surveyed more than 55,000 parents and children in more than 30 countries and regions around the world and found that almost all parents believe that children’s creativity (93%) and communication skills (92%) are enhanced through play , problem-solving skills (92%) and self-confidence (91%).
The benefits of play have never been limited to children. Lego fans all over the world have felt the joy and freedom of creation because of these small building blocks.
Trey Parker, the co-creator of "South Park", said in an interview that Lego is like a tree hole to him – it is very creative to build Lego bricks in a wild way, but it is also very creative to follow the instructions step by step. cure.
For more old friends, more feelings for Lego bricks, probably can return to childhood at any time.
Let go of the pressure of study and work, forget about the troubles such as mortgage, car loan, marriage, parenting, etc., focus on the moment, be fascinated by the colorful building block particles in front of you, and even forget to eat and sleep, just to finish a set of Lego quickly, so that you can show off yourself to your friends how cool the toys are.
What other moment could be more playful and playful than this?
Someone once asked children what they thought of adults with LEGO toys, and the answer was, "Isn't it a tall kid!"
I say 100% agree.
After all, who wants to grow up if they can always be children?
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