The leg­end of Lego, the toy that en­chants

Jb­jsat­ur­day

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODPOSTER - HOWARD J BEN­NETT

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.

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