The word Lego is derived from the Danish words “leg godt,” meaning “play well.” The word “lego” also means “I gather together” in Latin, and “I connect” in Italian. American families are certainly connecting with mega-brand Lego: “The Lego Movie” made a $69 million debut at the weekend box. While most parents like to see their children playing with plastic blocks similar to those they played with when they were young, today’s kids don’t use Legos in the same freestyle fashion. Nowadays Legos are sold primarily in promotional sets–usually tied-in with other mega-brands like Star Wars or DC Universe Super Heroes. With kids instructed to build these preconceived models, imagination takes a back seat. No longer designers and architects, today’s Lego kids are more like assembly line workers.
Another change in the Lego landscape is the weaponry. Popular packages like the Star Wars Republic Gunship and DC Universe Super Heroes’ Battle of Smallville include missiles, pistols, and weapons racks. And peacenik parents who would never buy a GI Joe figure (deeming a soldier with bayonet and gun too violent–or realistic) strangely don’t blink when Lego instructs their children to place a blaster rifle in the hands of a Clone Trooper. “The Lego Movie” doesn’t include guns. “We studied a lot about what parents would be comfortable with,” says producer Dan Lin, but that doesn’t stop Lego from manufacturing and selling miniature plastic arms for children to play with. In 2010, the company surpassed $1 billion in consumer sales in the United States, reaching its highest share of the US toy market ever.
Super Secret Police Enforcer, ©2014 LEGO Group, available at Toys ‘R Us
RELATED: Lego Explains–in 2paragraphs, by the way–its “Guidelines For Weapons and Conflict” here.