Nine key LEGO moments from the past 90 years

This year marks the 90th anniversary of the LEGO Group – so here is a look back at nine moments from the last nine decades, going right back to the beginning. 

With the LEGO Group celebrating its impressive 90th anniversary this year, Blocks – the LEGO magazine for fans, is taking a look back at some of the key moments that have defined the past nine decades for the LEGO Group. This is part of our celebration of the LEGO Group’s 90 years, with a very special 90th edition of Blocks magazine out now, so make sure you get the commemorative LEGO magazine while stocks last.

LEGO is born (1936)

While the company was founded by Ole Kirk Kristiansen in 1932, the name ‘LEGO’ was only decided upon in 1936 after Ole held a competition to come up with a name – which he won. The name comes from the Danish ‘leg godt’, meaning to ‘play well’ and the company’s first logo with the name began use in January 1936. 

LEGO bricks are patented (1958)

After Ole’s son, Godtfred, perfected the plastic brick by adding the tubes inside to make it strong enough to endure play, the classic LEGO brick was patented in 1958, protecting it from being copied. This allows the unique interlocking qualities of the brick to be protected. 

LEGO DUPLO is invented (1967)

As the LEGO Group sought to expand to new audiences, the DUPLO brick was invented to allow preschool children to be able to build their own worlds. This is the first LEGO product to be exported to Sweden, where it met with great success before going onto the global market in 1969. 

LEGOLAND Billund opens (1968)

With the LEGO brick rising in popularity, model builder Dagny Holm saw the potential in art and large scale models that can be made from it. People begin flocking to the LEGO factory to see the LEGO model creations, which inspired owner Godtfred Kirk Kristiansen to hire Arnold Boutrup to design LEGOLAND to house the very first Miniland. It opened on June 7, 1968 and attracted 625,000 visitors in its first year. 

Minifigures join the brick (1978)

To make the LEGO System more engaging for play, designer Jens Nygaard Knudsen created the minifigure for role-play. After 50 attempts the company settled on the familiar design still used today. The first minifigure, the Police Officer, was included in 600 Police Car. 

Licensed sets (1999)

At the turn of the century the LEGO Group was facing financial difficulty, so in a bid to boost sales, the first ever license was secured with Lucasfilm to produce LEGO Star Wars sets. The new theme was an immediate success and paved the way for dozens more licenses in the future. It’s the longest running licensed theme, with no break since it launched 23 years ago. 

LEGO Ideas launches (2014)

While CUUSOO was around before 2014, its success as a pilot meant that a stronger platform was needed and Ideas arrived in 2014. Since then 49 fan builds have been approved to become official sets – the smallest being 40335 Space Rocket Ride and the biggest being 21330 Home Alone at 3,955 parts. 

The LEGO Movie (2014)

While the brick has always had an element of storytelling, in 2014 The LEGO Movie brought that storytelling to the big screen. The original story follows Emmet as he has to save the world by becoming a Master Builder while making friends along the way. The film was received very positively and Everything is Awesome got stuck inside audiences’ heads…

LEGO House (2017)

Built to look like LEGO bricks, LEGO House opened to visitors September 28, 2017. It celebrates the history of the company and its founding values, encouraging visitors to interact with digital and physical experiences.

These are the nine key moments we’ve picked – but do you agree? What’s been a defining moment for you in the LEGO Group’s history? Come join the conversation on any of the Blocks social media channels. 

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