Did you know that a whopping 46 million LEGO bricks were manufactured in 2012 alone – at a rate of 5.2 million per hour? Or that the average person owns 86 LEGO bricks? Yes, the statistics speak for themselves: LEGO is one of the world’s most iconic brands and has become part of the cultural fabric. These small plastic building blocks have entertained children – and adults – for decades, and are still among the most sought-after toys every Christmas. They’ve inspired a raft of spin-off merchandise, including cuddly toys and video games, and even a big-budget Hollywood blockbuster, The LEGO Movie, which opened in theaters in 2014. But where does this toy originate from? And why is it so popular? By the end of this page, you’re going to find out about the LEGO history as well as its many educational benefits for children. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get started!
Early Beginnings of LEGO History
If you’re sitting comfortably, we’ll begin our tale. The LEGO story starts in 1932 when Ole Kirk Christiansen created the LEGO Group in Denmark. Not many people know this, but it was Christiansen himself who abbreviated two Danish words (‘leg’ and ‘godt’) to create the name “LEGO” and begin the story of LEGO history. It basically means “play well” – a philosophy that the brand has followed since its inception. The LEGO that we know and love today didn’t originate until the late 1950s when these little plastic building blocks were sold in a small store in Billund, Denmark. The bricks interlocked into place and were used to create different structures and designs – something that proved to be instantly popular with children of all ages. The company had already been selling other products up to this point, including wooden blocks, plastic balls, and clothes hangers – but it would be these miniature bricks that would capture the attention of a global audience. The iconic LEGO bricks with the studs on top and tubes inside were patented on January 28, 1958, and products manufactured since have used the same specifications as the original. Pretty impressive, right? Christiansen passed away in 1958, but his son became the head of the LEGO company and, within just a few years, the Danish brand became one of the country’s biggest exports, with huge sales in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Sweden. LEGO was beginning to take over the world!
The popularity of LEGO spread throughout Europe during the swinging sixties and even reached as far as the Middle East (LEGO was particularly popular in Lebanon); however, it wasn’t until 1973 before LEGO made its mark on an American audience. By this time, LEGO bricks could be used to build a wide range of designs, and the company had started to manufacture different parts to create more innovative and impressive structures. It seemed the sky was the limit when it came to LEGO design! Children could create buildings, hotels, boats, castles, and more. Before long, LEGO was being used to create vast towns and cities – complete with miniature LEGO residents. One of the reasons why LEGO has proved to be so popular is because of its educational value. A good example of this was when role play and personality were incorporated into LEGO figures in 1974; now children could interact with their toys and create creative role playing games which inspired their young minds and help them understand the world.
The 80s and 90s In LEGO History
LEGO expanded further in the following decades, with some of the most popular products including LEGO pirates, released in 1989. The company began to manufacture special themed lines soon too, many based on popular movie franchises or TV characters such as Harry Potter and Star Wars. LEGO instantly became one of the most collectible toys in the world because of the many product lines available. Some rare LEGO toys from the past are still highly sought-after even today and there are collectors who are willing to spend a small fortune on getting their hands on these small plastic building blocks of LEGO history! As LEGO has developed over the years, its main selling point never changed. These toys are so educational because they require children to think: Young ones will need to use their spatial skills when creating structures and buildings and rely on their imagination if they want to develop vast LEGO town or cityscapes. It’s definitely more educational than sitting in front of the TV or playing video games! As LEGO can be played with other children, these educational toys for kids encourage little ones to develop teamwork skills and solve problems – something other toys don’t always offer.
Today, LEGO is just as popular as it’s always been. In 2014, a hugely popular movie featuring characters from the LEGO franchise opened in theatres around the world and grossed millions of dollars. The movie even inspired a new range of merchandise and LEGO product lines featuring the cast from the film. Long-running animated series The Simpsons also got swept up in the LEGO craze, with a special episode featuring the famous Springfield residents as LEGO characters airing on FOX. LEGO might have got become bigger (quite literally – recent LEGO DUPLO bricks are eight times the size of the original LEGO toys from the 1960s) but its ability to inspire, educate, and entertain has remained unparalleled for nearly 60 years. It’s safe to say that this toy is more popular now than any other time in LEGO history. Today, the LEGO Mindstorm – an educational, programmable robot – is among the most popular toys manufactured by the brand.
The Future of Lego
As technology becomes more prevalent in society, you might think that LEGO would become a thing of the past. But that couldn’t be further from the truth at all. In fact, many parents prefer to purchase LEGO for their children instead of violent computer games or high-tech toys with little-to-no-value. But why? Well, these educational games for kids can encourage creativity in children and improve motor development skills – both important qualities that can affect children as they progress through life. When children learn how to build new structures with their LEGO, they will often refer to the instructional guide included with the product, which in turn helps them to brush up on their reading and comprehension skills. Who knows what the future holds for LEGO, but expect the next generation of children to be just as awe-struck and educationally stimulated as kids in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and beyond.
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