Lego – have you played with it? These little plastic colored bricks have been sparking creativity and joy in both children and adults of all ages for almost 70 years! Small but mighty, Lego bricks inspire creativity, and thanks to their ingenious design, they can be used to make virtually anything you can imagine, from cars to dinosaurs, houses to aliens – if you can dream it, it can probably be built out of Lego.
As such a versatile toy that appeals to all ages of people, it’s not surprising that Lego is now recognized as the World’s Most Powerful Brand, towering over Google, Nike, and Ferrari to claim the top spot in 2017, but as with most gigantic companies, Lego started from humble origins and International Lego Day marks the very beginning.
History of Lego
International Lego Day is held on the very same day that Danish carpenter, Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, first submitted his patent for the original Lego brick in 1958. Like no other brick that had come before this toy brick would have a sophisticated interlocking brick system, making it strong, versatile, and less likely to fall apart when simply knocked over.
Not one to mess around, Godtfred made sure not only to patent the design for his single Lego brick, but also to patent the concept of multiple bricks being used together in a building system, and this protected his design from being ripped off by competitors. Although this day is often seen as the birthplace of Lego as we know it, the company itself was in fact founded by Godtfred in 1932, creating a variety of wooden toys, and taking the name Lego from the Danish words “LEg GOdt” which translate to “play well”.
Ahead of their time, Lego was one of the very first toy manufacturing companies to buy an injection mold machine with which to create plastic toys, a move which shortly led them to create the very first plastic Lego brick in 1949. In the 17 years from 1949 to 1966, Lego grew exponentially into a global company that was retailing in 42 countries. They now boasted a product range that now contained 57 Lego sets and 25 Lego vehicles and with factories that were producing more than 706 million Lego elements each year – but the company didn’t stop growing.
In 1967 the LEGOLAND Band was established and in 1968, the very first LEGOLAND opened its doors to the public, attracting more than 625,000 visitors in its first season. Today there are 9 LEGOLANDS across Europe, Asia and the US, with a further three due to open in the next few years.
Nowadays Lego is a truly global enterprise, its strong brand identity, and still unique simplistic design, keeps it a favorite amongst children, while its history and versatility make it even more collectible to adults.
International Lego Day Timeline
LEGO founder starts a woodworking shop in Denmark
In a small woodworking shop in Billund, Ole Kirk Christiansen makes all types of furniture and household items. But his favorite creations are toys for his sons, so he eventually names his company LEGO–a combination of two Danish words meaning “play well”.
Plastic bricks are first sold by the LEGO company
A wood shortage following WWII makes manufacturers look for alternative ways to create products. Christiansen gets his hands on the first plastic-injection molding machine in Denmark and starts selling the Automatic Binding Brick, the predecessor to today’s stackable blocks.
January 28, 1958
LEGO patent application is submitted
With Christainsen’s son, Godtfred, at the helm, the company submits their patent application for the tubes and studs that would add stability and connectivity to the plastic blocks. This anniversary coincides with International LEGO Day each year.
LEGO minifigures are introduced
Realizing that the sets might be more fun if a human dimension was added, the company releases the iconic yellow-faced humanoid bricks.
LEGO feature film is released
When watching his son play with LEGOs, a Hollywood producer gets the idea to make an animated movie. It is a huge hit and grosses more than $450 million, with more films coming in the following years.
10 super-fun facts about Lego
- In 2016 LandRover set the World Record for the largest piece of Lego construction with their huge 43-foot-high replica of Tower Bridge. This monumental structure used 5,805,846 individual pieces of Lego which would have stretched all the way to Paris in France if laid out end to end.
- If Lego Minifigures were to be classed as a population, they’d be the largest population in the world! With more than 4 billion of them in total.
- There are so many Lego bricks in the world, that it’s estimated that they outnumber people 80 to 1.
- Despite the first Lego brick having been made in 1958, you could still interlock one with a Lego brick-built today – the design hasn’t changed a bit!
- In 2009, James May created a house entirely out of Lego! The house took more than 3.3 million bricks to make and even had a working toilet, a bed, and a shower!
- Lego is now so popular that 7 sets are sold every second.
- Although Lego is played by both girls and boys, women and men, they still have a bit of a way to go before they reach gender equality with roughly 86% of their Lego Minifigures being male.
- If you were to collect all the Lego bricks in the world and stack them together then they would be 2,386,065 miles tall!
- Although Lego makes toys they are also classed as the world’s biggest tire manufacturer, making over 400 million tires each year to keep their fleet of various lego vehicles rolling.
- Although Lego was the first to patent the Lego brick that we know today, they didn’t technically invent them. The story has it that the salesman who came to sell Godtfred his first plastic injection mold machine was carrying an example interlocking brick in his pocket which had been designed and patented by Hilary Fisher Page. Godtfred improved on the design by perforating the brick and adding tubes on the bottom to help tighten the connection.
How to celebrate International Lego Day
Whether you’re five or sixty-five, you’re never too old to celebrate International Lego Day. Here are a few things that you could do to celebrate the day:
- Play with Lego! Perhaps the most obvious thing to do on International Lego Day is to play with Lego of course! Grab your old lego set, or buy one especially for the day and sit down for a few hours of relaxing and creative fun. If you now have children yourself then make a sculpture together and take a moment to remember how many generations have grown up with Lego by their side.
- Watch the Lego Movie! Lego has become so iconic that it even has its own movie dedicated to it. In fact, there are now two! Fun for all the family, cozy up on the sofa with some popcorn and watch as Lego figures come to life in stunning animation.
- Visit LEGOLAND. And finally, for perhaps the most immersive Lego experience, pack your bags and take a trip to one of the many LEGOLAND theme parks. Be wowed by the impressive Lego structures and ride the exhilarating roller coasters for a day you’ll never forget.