13th October, 2012
PICTURE: Used by permission,® 2012 The LEGO Group
Twice named 'toy of the century', LEGO is this year celebrating the 50th anniversary of its arrival in Australia.
But while the ubiquitous brick didn't make its way Downunder until 1962 when Englishman John Peddie landed in Sydney with a suitcase full and the task of trying to convince toy stockists to sell it, the brick had been in Europe for some 30 years prior.
The LEGO Group (the name comes from an abbreviation of the two Danish words 'leg godt', meaning 'play well') was officially founded by Ole Kirk Kristiansen in 1932 (it's currently owned by his grandson, Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen). Originally producing a range of wooden toys, it wasn't until 1958 that the company patented the plastic brick with the stud-and-tube coupling system.
The number of sets continued to expand as did the number of different types and colors of LEGO pieces and by 1966, LEGO was being sold in 42 countries with the company producing 706 million LEGO elements during the year.
The first LEGOLAND - located in Billund, Denmark - opened its gates in 1968 (there are now five parks around the world with a sixth, in Malaysia, due to open this year) and the minifigure, with its moveable arms and legs, arrived in 1978.
The company is now the third largest toy manufacturer in the world and sells its products in more than 130 countries. There are more than seven LEGO sets sold every seven seconds and 36,000 LEGO elements produced every minute.
In Australia - where every person owns an average of seven LEGO bricks, Lego has been celebrating the occasion in numerous ways including the installation of a lifesize forest of LEGO flowers and trees at Broken Hill and another in Sydney's Martin Place and, as you may have seen in our StrangeSights, the recreation of a gallery of minifigure vignettes featuring the "top 10 Aussie moments from the past 50 years" as determined by an online poll. For more on what's happening to celebrate the milestone, see www.festivalofplay.com.au.
MORE OF ORIGINS CLICK HERE...
you have a word you'd like to know the origins of, simply
send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.