By Muhammad Omar Iftikhar
Do you know who Ole Kirk Christiansen was? He was a Danish carpenter who lived from 1891 to 1958. Perhaps you would be wondering who he is and what he did. Well, have you heard about Lego? Yes, now you have a smile upon your faces. Christiansen was the inventor of Lego bricks. He founded his company – The Lego Group, in 1932 – which has been building Lego toys since then. The name Lego is derived from two words from the Danish language “Leg godt”, that means play well. However, in Italian it means “I connect” and in Latin it means, “I gather together.” Every child around the world has played with Lego. They are those colourful interlocking blocks with which you can make anything that you can dream of; whether it is a car, a house, an airplane, or a space ship. Interestingly, Lego blocks, which are made of plastic, were made of wood during the early years. This was because Christiansen was a carpenter and he experimented with wood to make Lego blocks. However, with the passage of time, the company began using plastic. Along with producing bricks, windows, doors, and wheels, Lego also manufactures those figures with which children complete their toy models and cities.
The interesting thing about Lego is the consistency in size of the Lego bricks. The Lego Group has been manufacturing bricks of the same dimensions since 1932. This means that if you use Lego bricks from the 1940s and the ones manufactured in the 2000s, they will fit together. This is also the reason why Lego bricks are passed on through generations as no one had ever complained about any Lego set to become outdated. Along with manufacturing individual bricks for children to build sets of their own, The Lego Group has manufactured sets based on a variety of themes. These include Lego Castle, Lego Dinosaurs, Lego Undersea Exploration, Lego Wild West, Lego Town and City, Lego Trains, and Lego Pirates. Each of these sets comes with Lego bricks of the same dimension but their colours are different and the sets do include some additional products to complement each theme. Moreover, the Lego characters in each theme are dressed up according to the theme they belong to, adding life to the set and giving children the creative input they need while playing with these sets.
Over the last few years, The Lego Group has also been manufacturing Lego sets based on movies. These include Batman, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Spider-Man, Toy Story, Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones, and Speed Racer. The Lego characters in this set are dressed according to the main characters of these movies. With the popularity of Lego bricks reaching to stardom in the West during the 1960s, The Lego Group went a step ahead by opening the first Legoland on June 7, 1968. Legoland is a theme park where the rides are made as if they are built with Lego bricks. This Legoland in Denmark is located next to the Lego factory that produced the first bricks. The main attraction of the Legoland is the Mini land. It features miniature cities spread across large areas. Apart from replicating major cities from Denmark, the Mini land also features landmarks from other European countries as well. It also has miniature Lego sets of Mount Rushmore, Abu Simbel (Egypt), and the Statue of Liberty. It is reported that the Mini land was created with more than 25 million Lego bricks.
During the last two decades, Legoland has been opened in California in 1999; Windsor, UK in 1996; Germany in 2002, Florida in 2011, and Malaysia in 2002. The Lego Group is expected to open a Legoland in Dubai, which will become Middle East’s first Legoland. The Lego Group has also transformed their bricks and Lego characters in video games and movies. It was in 1997 that Lego first released its video game for the personal computer and it has produced 53 games since then. Lego Racers, Lego Universe, Lego Batman, and Lego Harry Potter are a few of them. On the big screen, The Lego Group has been promoting its toy line in the form of movies. Lego has produced movies on Bionicle, Clutch Powers, Lego Star Wars, Lego Friends, and on other themes such as Atlantis, Chima, The Simpsons, and Lego Marvel Super Heroes. Lego’s last movie to hit the cinema was titled ‘The Lego Movie’, which earned $468 million on the box office. Actors who rendered their voices for the movie include Chris Patt, Will Farrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Liam Neeson, and Morgan Freeman.