The Plastic Pirates How Lego conquered the world – and fought against copies

Who invented the Lego Stone? Well – actually it was a Brit. But the Danes were cleverer and created a gigantic empire around the colored stones. Incidentally, also as the largest tire manufacturer in the world. But there are more and more copies.

They end up in the vacuum cleaner, in the carpet, in every crack. Every human supposedly owns an average of 102 of them. The speech is of course Lego stones, probably the most famous toy in the world. And not only that: Lego is also the largest wheel manufacturer in the world. Nowhere do so many wheels and tires roll off the line like the toy giant: 675 million pieces.

The largest car manufacturer in the world

Lego has meanwhile lost something of the overview. How many vehicles are produced annually? “Unfortunately, we can not deliver an exact number,” it says on request, because “vehicles with two, three or four wheels can be found in different shapes in almost every product line”.

Seat of this mammoth “car company”: Not Wolfsburg, Tokyo or Detroit, but Billund, Denmark. The plastic toy block manufacturer created from a small wood workshop today is not only the world’s dominant toy manufacturer, but also the head teacher when it comes to accompanying children from the crawling age in their automotive life: From construction kits like “My first vehicles” from the large-format Duplo series to “Speed ​​Champions” to “Creator Experts” deliver the Danes small and big boys and girls models of all kinds of complexity.

And of course the big boys too. The premier class of the Danes is called Lego Technic – “for experienced builders”, as Lego emphasizes, in German: This is not children’s stuff, but here are difficult high-tech sentences. As for the Porsche 911 GT3 RS from 2704 small blocks. The development of such a “toy” lasts easily to the two years and begins when the first Erlkönig photos of the original haunt the media.

Everything is being developed on the computer

Often it is the Danes themselves who then approach the automaker with a request to be allowed to emulate a model as a licensee. He then usually feels flattered and moves out – under the strictest secrecy obligation – concrete details. These concern the design as well as technical finesse that should be reflected in the model. In the Porsche about the elaborate dual-clutch transmission. Well, slightly simplified with four instead of seven gears.

When building the set – of course with CAD on the computer – the Lego people can fall back on 3600 basic stones in 60 colors. Difficult or characteristic special parts, such as the rims of the super-Elfer, they have specially sprayed for this one kit.