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Before you see 'The LEGO Movie 2,' learn the history behind Denmark's little plastic bricks


LOS ANGELES (CIRCA) — LEGO bricks have impacted almost every facet of pop culture, from movies, to video games and even music.

Today, LEGO remains one of the most influential and painful toy companies of all time. Here’s the history of LEGO bricks.

Lego founder Ole Kirk Kristiansen
Lego founder Ole Kirk Kristiansen pictured in 1957. (LEGO)

The LEGO Group was started in 1932 by Danish carpenter Ole Kirk Kristensen, who pivoted his woodworking business to make toys after the Great Depression. He came up with the name LEGO from the Danish "leg godt" which means "play well."

Over the years, he experimented with different styles of wooden toys, but after World War II, materials like steel and wood became more scarce and the company bought one of the first plastic-injection-molding machines.

LEGO figure head mold
A plastic mold used for creating LEGO figure heads. (LEGO)

In 1949, the company started producing an early version of its self-locking bricks based on a prototype design by U.K. company Kiddicraft. In the late 1950s, LEGO improved on this design by adding the patented stud-and-tube configuration that it calls "clutch power."

The design and production is so great that you can put together and take apart a brick more than 37,000 times before the clutch power wears out.

LEGO set
A 2019 LEGO set based on the feature film "The LEGO Movie 2: the Second One." (Circa)

It’s this durability in structure that also explains why they’re so painful when they hit all the nerve endings on the bottom of your foot.

In 1978, the company introduced LEGO Minifigures, with their ethnically ambiguous yellow color. And with over 4 billion figures created, their population would make up the biggest nation on Earth.

LEGO figures
LEGO figures based on characters seen in "The LEGO Movie 2: The Second One." (Circa)

If you want to get yourself a set of LEGO bricks, you can get a new set from "The LEGO Movie 2: The Second One," or one of the original sets from the '50s, because the original plastic bricks still fit into bricks made today.

"The LEGO Movie 2: the Second One" trailer.


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