Countdown to 90 Years of Play, Part 3: 1952-1961

Join us as we countdown to August 10, the day the LEGO Group are celebrating their 90th Anniversary. Today we enter the 1950s, an era that would see the name ‘LEGO’ firmly associated with the products they produce, the development of the System in play and ultimately, the focus on plastic bricks.

This series is not a comprehensive history of the LEGO Group, but does provide a few highlights.

Around 1953, the Automatic binding bricks is dropped from the box, and we now see the name ‘LEGO Mursten’ – LEGO Bricks – in pride of place in the middle of the box.

LEGO Mursten – LEGO Bricks. All images provided by the LEGO Group.

We also see the first of the modern versions of the LEGO logo around this time: This form of the text has been modified and tweaked several times over the following 70 years, but they undoubtably share the same heritage.

Responding to a toy distributor complaining about the nature of the toy industry – about there being no system – Godtfred Kirk Christiansen introduces the LEGO System in Play

The System in play is based on six characteristics

  1. The toy has to be compact in its dimensions without limiting the free expression of imagination
  2. It has to be reasonably priced.
  3. It has to be simple and durable and yet offer unlimited variety.
  4. It has to be suitable for children of all ages and for both boys and girls.
  5. It has to be classic in its presentation, i.e. a classic among toys, needing no renewal.
  6. It has to be easily distributed

A typical example of a toy employing the principles of the system in play was the Town Plan. Developed on collaboration with the Danish Road Safety Council – with car ownership on the increase, this set encouraged educational play. The Town Plan consisted of 28 building sets and eight vehicles.

It was during this period that LEGO sets were starting to be exported, and the German market was opening up around 1956

1956: LEGO Enters the German Market.

Supplemental bricks for the town plan became available around this time, including these early light bricks released in 1957

While LEGO Bricks were holding together, the clutch power was still somewhat limited, with the bricks open at the bottom. this topic was raised by Axel Thomsen, the head of the German office in a meeting in January 1958. Within a few days, Godtfred had drawn up the stud and tube system that we are now familiar, and patented it on January 28 just 5 days after the initial ideas were conceived.

Later that year, we see a new version of the LEGO Logo – leaning on the notion of the LEGO System.

Created by MDKGraphicsEngine – Licensed to LEGO System A/S

By 1960, the company employs 400 people, and has shifted its entire focus towards the production of plastic products.

Join us tomorrow then we move into the 1960s, a time where we start to really see things getting moving, as the first wheels and trains start to roll out.

Until then,

Play Well!

While you are here, there is still time to join the 90 years of play classic themes challenge on Instagram, hosted by myself and Jen from @brickfambuilds. You can find further details here

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