Back in 1932, Ole Kirk Kristiansen founded the LEGO Group. The carpenter was manufacturing wooden toys in the small town of Billund in Denmark. ‘Leg godt’ is Danish for ‘play well’ and is where the name ‘LEGO’ comes from. The LEGO headquarters are still in town today as the company celebrates its 90th anniversary and enjoys a position as one of the most beloved brands in the world.
A very special 90th anniversary commemorative magazine is now available; this special edition issue of Blocks is packed with unique features that have been a long time in the making. We’ve pulled out all of the stops for this one, so get ready for interviews and builds like you’ve never seen before.
Blocks magazine’s special LEGO 90th anniversary edition is available now and include exclusive features, interviews, builds and images. No serious LEGO fan will want to miss it. To make sure you are one of the first to receive it, take out a Blocks magazine subscription.
Inside this edition you’ll find interviews with legacy designers – what is wrong with the classic LEGO horse? What colours were Space Police sets originally going to be? What meta 9V train was never included in the Trains theme? – you’ll get the answers to these questions and many more fascinating insights in the LEGO Group of the 1980s and 1990s.
There’s also a focus on the early days of wooden toys, with an exclusive build recreating Ole Kirk Kristiansen’s woodworking factory, the place where the first plastic moulding machine was installed. You will also find instructions for three mini-models based on classic wooden toys including the famous pull-along duck.
Special 90th anniversary commemorative LEGO sets
There are a number of LEGO sets that are being launched to celebrate the 90th anniversary. 11021 90 Years of Play is a classic brick box with a twist – it includes instructions to build 15 mini models representing classic toys from the company’s history, including the wooden duck and yellow castle as well as builds from Space, Pirates and Town.
10497 Galaxy Explorer was announced on June 18 and is available to pre-order now. It will be released on August 1 and updates the beloved Classic Space 497 Galaxy Explorer. Witrh 1,249 pieces, it’s much bigger this time, delivering a model that’s suitable for the adult fans who remember the original.
The biggest 90th anniversary set is 10305 Lion Knights’ Castle, with an incredible 4,512 pieces. That was announced on the same day and will be available at LEGO.com from August 3. It’s a massive LEGO castle inspired by the classic Lion Knights sets, with lots of references that fans will remember from childhood.
90 years of LEGO history
While Ole Kirk started with wooden toys, he was ready to adopt plastics and introduce building bricks to the LEGO Group’s range. This was accelerated in 1957 when Ole Kirk’s son Gotfred Kirk Christiansen took over the running of the company. In 1958, he was personally instrumental in coming up with the classic 2×4 LEGO brick design, featuring the all-important clutch power. That change ensured that LEGO bricks did more than just stack and could be used for more complex structures.
Wooden toys were discontinued in 1960, with all focus now on LEGO bricks and related products. Ahead of taking over as CEO in 1979, KJeld Kirk Kristiansen came up with the concept of ‘system within a system’ – introducing different distinctive play themes such as Town, Castle, Space and Pirates. Importantly he also encourages the addition of the minifigure, a character that defines the scale of most LEGO sets.
Things went on for several decades to growing sales, until the late 1990s and early 2000s saw the company at the brink of bankruptcy. The LEGO Group had not kept up with the times either as an organisation or as a toy producer, with many ill fated projects burning through money and achieving disappointing results. A huge restructuring and culture change saw Kjeld Kirk bring in Jorgen Vig Knudstrop as CEO.
In 1999, Star Wars became the first licensed LEGO theme and had great success, paving the way for Harry Potter and further existing IPs. BIONICLE was the LEGO Group’s biggest in-house concept in years when it launched in 2001, demonstrating that original worlds still had the potential to reach children around the world.
Following the restructuring, the LEGO Group had enormous success, driven by a relentless focus on core products. In 2014, the power of the brand is demonstrated with the release of The LEGO Movie. Produced by Dan Line and directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, it entertained audiences while reminding them what they love about LEGO bricks.
Niels B Christiansen became CEO in 2017. In 2020, the LEGO Group formalised its pitch to ‘mature’ fans, delcaring ‘adults welcome’ with a marketing campaign and more specifically adult building sets than ever before.
For the 90th anniversary of the LEGO Group, there will be at least one special commemorative product as well as this unique celebratory edition of Blocks, the LEGO magazine for fans. If you don’t have a subscription yet, get one now – the 90th anniversary is a special one, and it deserves a special magazine to go alongside.