The legend of Lego, the toy that enchants
I’M a Lego nut. I started building with Lego when my son turned seven, and I never stopped. My office is filled with displays that include vehicles, buildings and scenes from Star Wars and Harry Potter.
Do you know the history behind the building toy so popular that it was named Toy of the Century by Fortune magazine in 2000?
Lego was invented by a Danish c a r penter- t ur ned- t oymaker named Ole Kirk Christiansen.
The company began in 1932, but the bricks that are used today weren’t created until 1958. The name Lego comes from the Danish phrase leg godt, which means “play well”.
The factories that make Lego operate 24 hours a day and are almost completely automated. The process begins when coloured plastic granules (very small fragments) are suctioned through tubes and sent to moulding machines. The plastic is heated to 232 º C. The softened plastic is forced into moulds using 25 to 150 tons of pressure. The plastic cools in less than 10 seconds and is then ejected into large bins.
Up to two million Lego pieces are made every hour. That’s about 33 000 a minute!
Christiansen insisted on making the highest-quality toys possible, which explains why Lego pieces fit together so perfectly.
Each Lego mould is accurate to within two thousandths of a millimetre. For every million Legos made, only 18 are rejected because they don’t meet the high standards set by the company.
In my opinion, the most amazing Lego sculptor is Nathan Sawaya. His work proves Lego can be used to make art (www.brickartist.com).
Here are some additional cool facts about Lego.
● Lego makes about 22 billion pieces a year. More than 300 million of those are rubber tyres for toy vehicles. That makes Lego one of the largest tyre manufacturers in the world.
● Some estimates say children spend five billion hours a year playing with Lego.
● The tallest tower on record made from interlocking plastic bricks was made in Wilmington, Delaware, US, in August. It was 3.5 metres. Until then the tallest Lego tower on record was 3.2 metres and built last year in the Czech Republic. It was made of 450 000 bricks.
● Lego has 140 designers who create new products for their eager customers. They travel all over the world to find out what’s new and interesting to kids.
● Lego is made from the same plastic used to make hard hats.
The next time you play with your Lego, remember this final statistic: every 10 seconds, a par- ent somewhere on the planet yells “Ouch” because he or she stepped on a Lego brick with their bare feet. (I actually made this up, but it’s probably true.) – Washington Post
TOY TOWN: A town made of toy bricks is on display at Lego headquarters in Denmark.