Brick By Brick: The Building of Lego

Brick By Brick: The Building of Lego

The Lego Group has produced their famous bricks for decades - but what brought them to where they are today?

Few brands have as much international recognition as Lego. Known worldwide for their iconic plastic construction brick toys, the Lego Group has endured over eighty years of producing toys and merchandise for children of all ages. As with any long-lasting company, the history and story of the creation of the toy giant is one of trial and error, ideas and tests, everything a good corporation should be doing to do to stay afloat. From making simple toys to becoming the world's top selling company and the largest producer of rubber tires worldwide (yes, that is true), Lego has found what makes the people keep coming back for more, and it all starts with one man trying to make some extra money for his shop.

Danish carpenter Ole Kirk Christiansen began the company out of his shop in 1932, as he was not making enough on just his usual wares, due to the Great Depression. He continued to make regular furniture, but also sold wooden toys under his own name. As with many cultural icons, World War II gave the economy a boost, and Christiansen was able to look into other types of toys that were previously too expensive – and upon obtaining a plastic injection machine, started making plastic cars and trucks, some of which could be taken apart and put back together, not unlike the plastic brick-and-stud toys being made by another company, Kiddicraft. Around this time, the name “Lego” was established, based on the Danish words for “play well.” Lego used the patents and plans for the Kiddicraft bricks, thus creating the first plastic Lego bricks. The company was not initially successful though, as the concept of plastic toys was still too new to most in Europe, and the items were seen as inferior to the stronger wood or even metal pre-war era playthings. They persevered, and kept producing their bricks alongside their original style toys, and little by little, the bricks became more popular.

Lego had become a major brand in Denmark and other European countries by the 1960s. In 1968, the very first Legoland theme park was opened (roughly thirteen years after Disneyland and three years before Disney World) in their home city of Billund. Upon expanding to the international market in the mid-60s, Lego's name became known to more and more people, the bricks themselves becoming a sort of celebrity in their own right. During the 1970s, sets were released worldwide, themes such as “Expert,” “Castle,” and “Town” were produced and expanded upon annually, and in 1975, the first Lego minifigures were made. These were unposable, but the same basic design was used when in 1978, the first modern type minifigs were included in the construction sets. Sets ranged from ones targeted to younger children (the now-praised Fabuland theme) to simple town/city structures that made for good imaginative play. Over the next two decades, Lego experimented with new concepts and themes, many of which exist today in some way – Castle comes back every now and again, Pirates (which were the first minifigs to use new printings and styles beyond the basic smile) appears once in a while, and the Space theme is paid tribute to in The Lego Movie with the “1980s spaceman” character, Benny.

There's only so much one can come up with, and Lego realized that in the late 1990s. The bricks were being overshadowed in the public mindset due to toylines such as Transformers during the late 1980s. With the newfound popularity of the Star Wars franchise following the 1997 Special Edition rereleases and the then-upcoming prequel trilogy, Lego and Lucasfilm made a deal for the company to make a series of sets based on the movies – officially making Star Wars the first third-party licensee of the company. This line continues to this day as one of their most successful themes, with sets featuring vehicles and locations like the Millennium Falcon and the Death Star. Two years later, Lego got involved in television and buildable action figures – but not all endeavors performed well. The Fox Kids TV show Galidor was produced as a tie-in to the line of toys, but the line proved unpopular with fans and was swiftly canceled. Meanwhile, Lego was trying their hand at complete brick built figures, leading to the Bionicle theme – a total in-house creation, with in-depth lore and story written to further develop the brand. Slowly, the company reclaimed their place in the toy box, and with popular themes such as Marvel and DC Comics, Ninjago, Creator, and Minecraft, Lego found a way to keep everybody interested without dividing the fanbase and bring in more of the modern generation of kids who might not gravitate towards the generic bricks.

After returning to the public eye during the height of the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Lego continued to release sets across several new themes, all while considering ways to bring the brand into other media. Short, two-minute films were animated, mostly involving Star Wars characters. Within a few years, feature-length movies based on the Lego DC Superheroes line were released, and while not the best animated movies, they're still watchable. Most notably, after years in development, The LEGO Movie was finally released in 201x, to critical and commercial success. It is often considered one of the best children's movies in recent years, and is followed by movies such as The LEGO Batman Movie, LEGO Ninjago, and an untitled sequel to the original film. On the side of plastics, Lego keeps working on creating new products and themes, sometimes with the help of fans themselves. The Ideas theme allows for anybody to come up with an idea and if it gets enough votes, the set will be produced and sold worldwide – such as the Beatles Yellow Submarine movie set, Ghostbusters, Doctor Who, and the recent Saturn V Apollo rocket. Several brand stores have opened, almost like a snapshot into the Legoland parks.

Of course, there were times where Lego was in danger of going bankrupt. Most companies do, and as usual, Lego found a way out and back to the mass market of people worldwide. Children and adults alike can find some enjoyment out of the bricks, whether it's buying one of the expensive modular buildings or just putting random pieces together and calling it a spaceship, the toys do not have an age cap. Artists, designers, architects, students – all have used Lego has a way to express themselves and present a new idea. The simple, anybody-can-do-it system makes it stand out from other toys, where hours of instructions and batteries are needed. There are the big ticket sets like the Death Star or the Disney Castle, but there are smaller ones that kids can get without breaking the bank. Lego has made it eighty years, and at this rate, will continue to make their iconic bricks for decades to come, if not centuries.

Cover Image Credit: The Lego Group/Warner Brothers

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Just Because I'm From Hawaii, Does Not Mean I'm Hawaiian

My residency is not my race.

Let me start off with a few things about myself. I am a first generation American who is primarily Filipino, Spanish and Hungarian. With that said, I am a woman of color, who frankly, looks all white. I was born and raised on the North Shore of O'ahu, but currently live in the mainland.

Now, let me tell you a little bit about Hawai'i, because I'm sure you don't know much about it since it's only given like, a paragraph of recognition in our history books. The Ancient Hawaiians traveled by canoe for thousands of miles using only the stars to navigate and found themselves in the Hawaiian Islands. They settled and their culture spread throughout the mountains and shores.
In 1778, Captain Cook "discovered" the islands, despite the thriving population residing there (he can be compared to Christopher Columbus). In the 1830s, the Sugar Industry was introduced, bringing a diverse range of immigrants from China, the Philippines, Japan and many other countries to work on the plantations, creating the diverse and ethnic population that makes up the islands today. In the 1890s, Queen Lili'uokalani (lily-oo-oh-kah-lah-nee) was imprisoned in an upstairs bedroom of her palace and soon after, the monarchy was overthrown. Hawai'i became a state in the 1950s.

With all of that said, we can now discuss an issue that I have realized needs to be addressed.

Since I moved to the mainland, I have had many encounters where people assure me that I am Hawaiian, despite my rebuttals that I am definitely not. The conversation usually goes something like this:

Them: "So you're from Hawaii, are you Native Hawaiian?"

Me: "Oh no, I'm Filipino, Hungarian and Spanish."

Them: "No, I mean, were you born and raised there?"

Me: "Yeah, but I'm not Hawaiian."

Them: "Yeah you are. It's the same thing."

No, it is most definitely not the same thing. If you were in Japan and saw a white person or any person not of Japanese descent, would you ask if they were Japanese simply because they lived there?
No, you wouldn't because you should know that residency does not equate descent. Sure, you might be curious and ask, but if they told you they weren't Japanese, you wouldn't try to convince them that they are. As I mentioned, Hawaii's population is made up of a ton of immigrants, and just because someone's family may have been there for generations, they are still not Hawaiian unless they actually have Hawaiian blood.

Not only do people assume that I am Hawaiian simply because I am from there, but they will continuously say that I look Hawaiian even if they have no idea what someone of Hawaiian descent looks like. Hawaiians are people of color, as are many of those who reside in the islands. However, as I previously mentioned, I do not look like a person of color even though I am, so why would you associate me, a seemingly full white person, to be Hawaiian? It makes no sense.

There are many things wrong with choosing to misidentify an individual or a group of people.
One, is that by you convincing yourself that I am something that I am not, you are diminishing who I am, and how I identify myself.
Second, you are creating an illusion based upon your own desires of who Hawaiians as a people are.
Third, by using me specifically, you are whitewashing the image of an entire race. I could go on, but there is not enough time in the world to name them all.

Their culture has been reduced to leis, aloha shirts, surfing, and tiki torches. Aloha has become a household word used by people who have no understanding of what Aloha truly means. Girls go as hula dancers in an effort to show skin on Halloween without any second thought. Please stop. We cannot continue to misidentify, appropriate and basically erase Hawaiian culture, just as has been done to the Native Americans.

Hawaiians have already been stripped of their land. I will not allow them to be stripped of their identity as well.

Cover Image Credit: TourMaui

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You Can Tell The Difference Between Momentary Happiness And Deeper Happiness

"At the end of your life, go out with a bruised-up, worn out heart that gave too much and loved too strongly and felt too fiercely. Go out with the certainty that you gave it everything you had and didn't hold anything back". - Heidi Priebe


First level happiness: Momentary

Momentary happiness is waking up early and watching the sunrise. It's the first sip of coffee in the morning. It's a big breakfast before a long day of doing what I love.

Momentary happiness is stepping into the restaurant I love and being surrounded by the people who have watched me grow up these past three years. It's understanding that this thing is about family just as much as it is business. It's falling in love with every early morning and every late night. It's learning that hard work isn't hard if you love what you're doing.

Momentary happiness is hitting a new personal record at the gym. It's that smile plastered across my face every time I enter a team huddle. It's down on one knee, all eyes on me. It's feeling the trust my team has in me. It's the feeling of joy when my number gets called. It's the burning in my lungs because I know that I gave it my everything. It's not being able to move without wincing the next day because the game asked for my hustle and I gave it my heart.

Momentary happiness is the instant you see someone you love and can't help but smile. It's the tight hug between you and someone that means the world to you. It's the weight off your shoulders when you finally express your true feelings. It's holding your breath as you wait for a response. Monetary happiness is being scared but doing it anyway.

Momentary happiness is coming home at night and having your dog jump on you the moment you open the door. It's your parents smiling, knowing you got home safe.

Momentary happiness is driving without a destination and simply reflecting on life. It's taking a step back and allowing myself to be aware of my breathing and existence. It's allowing myself to find pleasure in the little things.

Momentary happiness is getting accepted into college. It's getting that job. It's making the Dean's list. It's acing the test you study so hard for. It's watching your hard work pay off. It's finding your people. It's all the things that make you proud of yourself and happy to be alive.

Momentary happiness was buying my dream car at age 17 without my parents help.

A Deeper Happiness:

A deeper happiness is finding beauty in vulnerability. Not holding back my feelings and telling people how magnificent they are because people don't get told that enough. A deeper happiness is allowing me to feel everything deeply and without explanation. It's finding beauty in the madness and trusting the process.

Life's about getting lost in passion and dedicating myself to the things that matter most. It's wanting success as bad as I want to breathe. It's about taking that jump and seeing if I can land it, and if I don't, it's about being crazy enough to give it one more try. Life's about risking it all even if the outcome is uncertain. A deeper happiness is seeing myself grow into the person I've always wanted to become. Deeper happiness is being able to keep my promises to myself and others.

Life is about being empathetic. Finding out someone's story and attempting to understand their actions. It's about not taking things personally and allowing for second chances, even thirds. It's understanding that not every action needs a reaction. A greater happiness is caring for those around me just as much, if not more, than myself.

Life is embracing hardships and disappointments. Understanding that knowledge comes from experience and disappointments are all apart of the journey. A deeper happiness is understanding that this to shall pass. It's being able to laugh and smile even though things didn't go my way because everything that is meant to be will be. It's understanding that I will be stronger because of my defeats.

A deeper happiness is putting myself in hard situations, situations I know will hurt me. It's helping people get through their hard times. A deeper happiness is being the reason someone smiled. It's being the shoulder to cry on. It's wearing my heart on my sleeve because I would rather feel everything than nothing at all.

A deeper happiness is giving everything I have and being a better person than I was yesterday. Making my friends and family proud but myself prouder. A deeper happiness is leaving my mark on the world. It's about leaving a person, situation, and world better than I found it.

A beautiful, fulfilling life is one that money can't buy.

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