LEGO logo.svg
Logo of Lego since 1998
TypeConstruction set
Inventor(s)Ole Kirk Christiansen
CompanyOfficial website

Lego (/ LEG-oh, Danish: [ˈleːko];[1][2] stylised as LEGO) is a line of plastic construction toys that are manufactured by The Lego Group, a privately held company based in Billund, Denmark. The company's flagship product, Lego, consists of colourful interlocking plastic bricks accompanying an array of gears, figurines called minifigures, and various other parts. Lego pieces can be assembled and connected in many ways to construct objects, including vehicles, buildings, and working robots. Anything constructed can be taken apart again, and the pieces reused to make new things.[3][4]

The Lego Group began manufacturing the interlocking toy bricks in 1949. Movies, games, competitions, and six Legoland amusement parks have been developed under the brand. As of July 2015, 600 billion Lego parts had been produced.[5]

In February 2015, Lego replaced Ferrari as Brand Finance's "world's most powerful brand".[6]


Hilary Fisher Page's Interlocking Building Cubes of 1939
Lego bricks
Two Lego Duplo bricks with a standard brick for comparison

The Lego Group began in the workshop of Ole Kirk Christiansen (1891–1958), a carpenter from Billund, Denmark, who began making wooden toys in 1932.[7][8] In 1934, his company came to be called "Lego", derived from the Danish phrase leg godt [laɪ̯ˀ ˈkɒt], which means "play well". In 1947, Lego expanded to begin producing plastic toys.[9] In 1949 Lego began producing, among other new products, an early version of the now familiar interlocking bricks, calling them "Automatic Binding Bricks". These bricks were based on the Kiddicraft Self-Locking Bricks, which had been patented in the United Kingdom in 1939[10] and released in 1947. Lego had received a sample of the Kiddicraft bricks from the supplier of an injection-molding machine that it purchased.[11] The bricks, originally manufactured from cellulose acetate,[12] were a development of the traditional stackable wooden blocks of the time.[9]

The Lego Group's motto is det bedste er ikke for godt which means roughly "only the best is the best" (more literally "the best is never too good").[8] This motto, which is still used today, was created by Christiansen to encourage his employees never to skimp on quality, a value he believed in strongly.[8] By 1951 plastic toys accounted for half of the Lego company's output, even though the Danish trade magazine Legetøjs-Tidende ("Toy-Times"), visiting the Lego factory in Billund in the early 1950s, felt that plastic would never be able to replace traditional wooden toys.[13] Although a common sentiment, Lego toys seem to have become a significant exception to the dislike of plastic in children's toys, due in part to the high standards set by Ole Kirk.[14]

By 1954, Christiansen's son, Godtfred, had become the junior managing director of the Lego Group.[13] It was his conversation with an overseas buyer that led to the idea of a toy system. Godtfred saw the immense potential in Lego bricks to become a system for creative play, but the bricks still had some problems from a technical standpoint: their locking ability was limited and they were not versatile.[3] In 1958, the modern brick design was developed; it took five years to find the right material for it, ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) polymer.[11][12] The modern Lego brick design was patented on 28 January 1958.[15]

Lego building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center

The Lego Group's Duplo product line was introduced in 1969 and is a range of simple blocks whose lengths measure twice the width, height, and depth of standard Lego blocks and are aimed towards younger children.[13][16]

In 1978, Lego produced the first minifigures, which have since become a staple in most sets.[17]

In May 2011, Space Shuttle Endeavour mission STS-134 brought 13 Lego kits to the International Space Station, where astronauts built models to see how they would react in microgravity, as a part of the Lego Bricks in Space program.[18][19]

In May 2013, the largest model ever created was displayed in New York City and was made of over 5 million bricks; a 1:1 scale model of an X-wing fighter.[20] Other records include a 112-foot (34 m) tower[21] and a 4 km (2.5 mi) railway.[22][23]

In February 2015, Lego replaced Ferrari as the "world's most powerful brand."[6][24]

In popular culture

Lego's popularity is demonstrated by its wide representation and usage in many forms of cultural works, including books, films and art work. It has even been used in the classroom as a teaching tool.[25] In the US, Lego Education North America is a joint venture between Pitsco, Inc. and the educational division of the Lego Group.[26]

In 1998, Lego bricks were one of the original inductees into the National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong in Rochester, New York.[27]

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