Lego is a line of plastic toys that can be constructed into specific sets, characters from movies or books, and anything you want it to be. The Lego Group started out in 1932 and today it’s one of the world’s leading toy companies, In 2016 alone, Lego made 12.4 billion dollars from only lego sets.
Today they also have amusement parks with lego rides, stores, and statues made out of legos, such as a pirate ship, Hulkbuster, and Hulk.
The man who started the lego group was known as Ole Kirk Kristiansen, who grew up with five brothers and five sisters. By the age of seven he was working for a local smallholder, then a few months later he began to work at a nearby farm. In the year 1903 he was apprenticed as a carpenter with his brother, and worked hard until 1911 when he completed his training.
Ole Kirk Kristiansen buys Billund Maskinsnedkeri for DKK 10,000 when the area is just a bunch of small farms and store fronts. This factory manufactures doors, windows, kitchen cabinets, cupboards, coffins, chests of drawers, and tools for digging peat. They also contributed for larger projects, such as fixing farm machinery or constructing buildings, such as the local church. With this skill set and the help of a local architect, he built a new house for him, his wife, and his kids all while paying little to nothing.
During the great economic crisis, Ole Kirk Kristiansen was still trying to sell carpentry, but almost nobody could afford his works, forcing him out of work. After that, his wife left him with 4 kids and no money to take care of them. To make easy money during the crisis, Ole Kirk Kristiansen began to make toys, first wooden cars, then airplanes and yoyos. After that he began to make ironing boards, ladders, and christmas tree stands. This did get him through the crisis, but he doesn’t make any real profit and his family doesn’t think his store is very important. Kristiansen asked his brothers and sisters to be guarantors for a loan that would secure his company’s future, they asked him,” Can’t you find something better to do?”
Ole Kirk Kristiansen ended up having kids during the 1920s, but the kid who had the most effect on the family company was the third son, Godtfred Kirk Christiansen. He was helping his dad in the shop when he was only four years old. He always said his first memory in there was when they turned on the glue heater, and some wood shavings caught fire and burned the whole place down.
The reason Ole Kirk Kristiansen and Godtfred Kirk Christiansen have different beginnings to their names is because people pronounced the name with the “Ch” and when casually spelling out the name they would use the “Ch” as well. Ole Kirk Kristiansen never minded the confusion but Godtfred was bothered by it so he had it legally changed to Christiansen.
After World War II, Ole Kirk Kristiansen noticed that a new material for making toys was becoming more and more popular; plastic. Plastic was less more malleable than wood and could be acquired easier. Ole Kirk Kristiansen and other Danish toy manufacturers attended a demonstration of an injection-moulding machine in June of 1946, and the machine impressed Kristiansen so he made an order for an injection-moulding machine for his own shop. Ole Kirk Kristiansen’s sons, who were all involved in the family company at the time, collectively disagreed with their fathers decision to invest money into this new technology. They thought while plastic could be used to make prettier toys, wood was the better material because it was the stronger of the two. Their father argued that if they got it right; they could produce toys for the whole world.
In 1949, the first of the plastic lego bricks had begun production. They were known as Automatic Binding Bricks, but in 1951, Godtfred Kirk Christiansen changed the name to LEGO Mursten, or LEGO Bricks to further spread popularity of LEGO.
By 1953 the LEGO company was ready to go international, starting with the Nordic countries, such as Sweden and Iceland. After that they turned to Europe; starting with Germany. At the time, Germany was the world’s epicenter of toy production. Godtfred Kirk Christiansen during this time often said, “If we can conquer Germany, we can conquer the world!” In the end they did get to the whole world, but it did take them a while. In 1961, LEGO finally licensed an American company which would begin to sell around the country and in Canada.
Once LEGO began to make a name for itself across the entire world, other people and companies started competition with LEGO, giving them a hard time. In 1960. Godtfred Kirk Kristiansen laid down the company rule: following the crucial decision to concentrate all efforts into the LEGO system, saying “No one must be able to do this better than us.” He also outlines all of their development so far, like this,”We know our idea is a good one. We want only the best … we must make better bricks from even better material on even better machinery. We must get the best people that money can buy for our company.”
In 1962, Godtfred Kirk Christiansen’s cousin, Dagny Holm, joined the company and showed a very immense potential for model building with a skilled eye that seemed like it could make anything out of those bricks. She made buildings, castles, animals, people, and furniture. Her skill attracted the public eye and inspired anybody who worked with the LEGO product, making the company’s golden age. Godtfred Kirk Christiansen came up with the idea to use his cousin’s skill to make a display of LEGO models and contacted a few friends to startup the first LEGOLand.
Thousands of pounds of earth and vegetation were removed to make ever-changing landscapes in the Miniland. The final product included a train, puppet theater, Native American camp, driving school, neighborhood, windmill, and church, all created by Dagny Holm and her creative team. Within the year of the first LEGOland’s opening, around 625,000 people visit it to see the models or play with the thousands of LEGO bricks around the property.
The LEGO company continued to expand and grow until today, where it is still achieving new things and breaking records every day. Almost everybody grew up playing with legos, either building the sets that they sell, playing with friends or making their own creations just for fun. You can ask almost anyone and they can tell you a few memories they have of playing with legos, whether it’s going to Legoland to stepping on them getting out of bed.
Today LEGO makes things called Lego Sets. They are meant to be little figurines or models from real life, movies, books, TV shows, and video games. Some examples of these Lego Sets are: hospitals, The Millenium Falcon, Helms Deep, The Death Star, and Space Ships. These sets are sold in boxes, which contain bags of pieces, big and small. Some of the are just meant to be walls, but some of the pieces are doors, stairs, cups, and windows.
The sets always have a different number of pieces, depending on the size of the set. Sometimes the piece count is 50, other times it is over 1000. The box also contains a book of instructions, telling the builder where to put the pieces and when to move to other parts. People use these sets for many things. Some people put them up for observation in their rooms, other people play with them until they break, and a very special few people wait several years until that specific set isn’t sold anymore and they sell it for a big price.