Today, we Weill take a brief look at some of the significant events that occurred in the 1940s. After a bit s of a tumultuous start, the decade saw the company heading towards its specialisation, with injection moulded plastic toys.
This article contains historical images provided by the LEGO Group, and information drawn, in part, from LEGO.com/history
In March, 1942, a fire destroys the woodworking factory, although the family home is saved.
After considering going out of the toy business, or opening a new factory in another part of Denmark, Ole Kirk Christiansen decides to remain in Billund, out of loyalty to his sons and employees. The new factory is financed with the assistance of the Veijle Bank. It opens in 1943, and as a larger factory, streamlined as a toy factory, the company becomes more productive than ever. for development o
The Rise of Plastics
In 1946, beech is becoming increasingly difficult to source in good quantities from the local forests. Ole attends a demonstration of an injection moulding machine, used in the production of plastic objects. He orders one from England.
Once the moulding machine arrives, there are challenges in sourcing the best raw materials, as well as molding tools. After much experimentation, Cellulose Acetate is used for the the moulded toys.
Around this time, Hilary Page, an English toy maker, is developing building bricks that bind to each other. These self locking bricks are seen by Ole, and are modified to be released as Automatic Binding Bricks.
Around this time, Ole’s sons are concerned about their father’s obsession with this new-fangled plastic stuff, and feel that the company should focus on the wooden toys. Ole however is adamant that one day, these plastic bricks will sell all around the world.
Godfredt is appointed Junior Managing director on his 30th birthday, in 1950. He comes around to the idea of plastics being the way of the future, and also recognises the importance of the company name.
By 1951, the name LEGO is molded into them, and the title LEGO Mursten (LEGO Bricks) is added to the box.
Eventually, the title Automatic Binding Bricks is dropped from the box.
The Ferguson Tractor
After the Second World War ended, the United States provided a recovery fund to help Europe to redevelop, strengthen its economies and modernise agricultural practices. The Ferguson tractor was seen by some as a symbol of this modernisation, and became a popular vehicle on many farms around Denmark.
The LEGO Ferguson tractor was released in 1951, and was in production until 1959. It was produced as both a pre-built toy, or a kit for children to assemble. After a significant investment had been made in developing the molds for the toy, its success was crucial. However, it turned out to be more popular than expected: children wanted to be able to play with a toy based on the tractor that their parents worked with.
Come back tomorrow as we continue our countdown, and we look further into the 1950s, and see some exciting developments that will shape the company for decades to come…
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…