Monday, 12 August 2013


I just bought a Lego set, the first one paid for by myself for many, many years (my parents, bless them, got me the VW Camper van a few Christmasses ago as a surprise).  It was the brand spanking new DeLorean-from-Back-to-the-Future set, and due to its pedigree, I simply couldn't resist it.
It not the finest representation of the vehicle in Lego form, I will admit that, but it is now mine, and an official Lego product.  And this is the thing: it was designed and submitted to Lego by a member of the public, not a Lego employee.

In recent years Lego have managed to stall a rapid downturn in their affairs and have managed to turn their company around in a startlingly efficient fashion.  They have diversified their model range into movie franchises, the most popular and lucrative being Star Wars and Harry Potter, both of which display great ingenuity and quality (the Star Wars range in particular becoming a huge success with adult fans).  They have backed up their traditional stock with fantastic electronic media, including the insanely addictive platform games, at least one for each major franchise (Lego Star Wars is a true classic, worthy to join the pantheon of finest video games ever).  They have also gone for the obsessive's jugular with the mini-figure range, now up to series 11, based on the basic newsagent-collectible business model (unknown contents of silver bag, whole range to complete, see Panini stickers in 1990s...)  But I believe their finest move was to realise that adults still like Lego.

I think, as a toy, Lego is second to none.  My happiest moments as a child involved Lego in some way or another (often in fairly imaginative and sometimes unpleasant ways), and this memory sticks around.  I still get a jolt of wonder whenever I see the newly released products and, given my druthers, I'd buy them all (especially the Haunted House model from 2012 - a model I crave).  Lego seemed to realise this in around 2003 with the Lego Creator range and more so in 2007 with the advent of the Lego Modular Houses range.  These wonderful models were a response to feedback from the well established Adult Fans of Lego (AFOL - any organisation that ends up with an acronym must have clout) and have been developed ever since.  This has been supplemented by other incredible models, such as the green biplane, the carousel, the TGV locomotive and more, all found here, under 'Expert':  These intricate models are expensive, yes, but beautiful.

Then came the Lego architecture range, bringing Lego into the realm of legitimate ornaments for homes.  This range represents famous landmarks built on a micro-scale, but keeping the requisite level of detail.  I have no idea who they have working on this range, but their eye for detail and sheer design ability is eye-watering.

But their finest move yet, in my opinion, was the Cuusoo website, which enables Lego fans to design and promote their own ranges of models.  This is precisely where the DeLorean had its birth - the model was uploaded to the site, and gained 10,000 votes of support, meaning that Lego had to consider making it a purchasable product.  Currently doing very well is the Ghostbusters range, designed by some genius of the highest order (go here to vote for it!!).  With this level of creativity, I can see Lego enjoying  their renaissance for many more years, meaning that if I ever get round to having kids, the company and their products will still be around - a prospect that was by no means certain at the turn of the century.

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