The LEGO Movie franchise could become the Toy Story of your kid’s generation, so you’d better take him to see it or he’ll grow up to be a disconnected pariah. You will also face intense, Star Wars-figure-esque pressure to purchase merchandise: there are 17 movie-specific buildings so far, plus associated characters — all “I want one!” products whose numbers will only increase with a sequel expected in 2017. How did the Lego brand get so big? Here are facts about Lego that you probably didn’t know:
- A quick primer: The Danish carpenter Ole Kirk Christiansen founded the company in 1932. His family still owns the business, which is based in Billund. They’re filthy rich.
- The name Lego is derived from the Danish words leg godt, meaning “leg god”… no, just kidding, it means “play well.”
- In 2013, sales were a cool $4.6 billion. “In less than 10 years, we have now more than quadrupled our revenue,” LEGO CEO Joergen Vig Knudstorp said last month. Give that dude a bonus.
- Part of that recent success has come via co-branding with the likes of Star Wars, Harry Potter and SpongeBob.
- LEGO also crowdsources ideas; this year’s winner pitched a Ghostbusters project, which will debut in June, to celebrate the film’s 30th anniversary.
- Speaking of films: The LEGO Movie has grossed $230 million and counting, making it by far the most successful movie of 2014. You may not see a sequel until 2016 or 2017, however, because Hollywood can struggle to clone animated hits.
- The biggest criticism of LEGO of late is that that the toymaker sells spaceships to boys and fairy castles to girls rather than gender-neutral products to both, as in yesteryears. The girl who starred in a 1981 LEGO ad, for instance, just became something of an Internet sensation and has been hailed as “a living embodiment of female empowerment.”
- People have been building crazy stuff with Legos for years, but now people are getting so obsessed that they’re making the toys a permanent presence in their homes. If you’re inclined to make a Lego wall, for instance, you can follow this family‘s lead.
- You don’t even need to build with actual Legos anymore. Using Google Chrome, you can build (virtually) anything you want at buildwithchrome.com.
- So, Danish carpenters are still making all these Legos, right? Nah, they’ve hired robots. And you thought world domination was a joke.
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