New York Times covers LEGO’s financial recovery [News]

As much as some of us may have wished otherwise, The LEGO Group — and the toys it produces — needed to change if it was to survive the near-bankruptcy it experienced five years ago. Looking back today, from the throes of the most serious global economic crisis since the Great Depression, it’s hard to believe that LEGO is experiencing record profits. And yet it is.

Read Turning to Hollywood Tie-Ins, Lego Thinks Beyond the Brick in the New York Times to learn how the company charted a course to recovery. Oh, and look for the quote from me on page 4.

LEGO CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp

So, dear readers, how do you feel about the sacrifices that LEGO has made to survive in the modern world? Sound off in the comments.

8 comments on “New York Times covers LEGO’s financial recovery [News]

  1. Fred

    I may be missing a few things but, article seems to point out licensing themes like star wars, rapid development of new sets, and a reduction of unique parts from 13,000 to 7,000.

    Fine by me. I don’t miss the other 6,000 parts. I would guess that the height of the parts boom was the 90’s when frankly I thought the creativity of the sets was at it’s lowest. I’m not missing anything.

    I was surprised that only 10% of sets go to adults. Bugged that lego calls us bizarre but, yeah I guess they’re right.

    I’m not shocked at all they Lego is so successful during an economic downturn. why get a toy for a child that has one use? plus you can play with a child enjoying Lego. It think they are doing a great job and i’m thrilled their doing so well.

  2. Ochre Jelly

    In pure busines terms, the turnaround was quite remarkable, and they should be commended for it. They did what they had to do to succeed, but imho they didn’t sacrifice the core quality of the product or concept; so now we enjoy both quality *and* quantity!

    We just got the latest shop-at-home catalog today, and love seeing the inevitable “90 new sets” badge on the front cover. There’s something for everyone.

    If they hadn’t retooled their business, we’d all be stuck with MegaBloks and PlayMobil right now, which would be better than living through a nuclear winter, but not by much.

    I don’t know who these ‘disappointed purists’ are that they mention in the article; presumably they are just quietly toughing it out in their hobbit-holes until the day of the glorious revolution. But I can’t see a single downside in anything TLC has done. The brand is about as strong as any brand possibly get right now. Among my kids and their friends, Lego is the centre of the universe, in one form or another, almost to the exclusion of everything else! Except possibly saftey matches.


  3. Nabii

    It’s generally not 6000 parts you would miss, this total includes colour variations! So a lot of this was achieved by reducing the number of colours any given element is available in at any given time. Of those elements that did disappear for good, a lot of them were Jack Stone, Clikits, Duplo and Bionicle, though of course some ‘standard’ LEGO elements went too. :(
    I thought the article was a little blinkered in outlook where it mentioned ‘toy violence’; the non-licensed lines are all still there and getting stronger every year so the core is still in place and the level of conflict in these is still pretty low in comparison to most toys.

  4. notenoughbricks

    Excellent story and great quote Andrew. I tell people that I use LEGO as a creative outlet/art form all the time when they look at me oddly for “playing with a children’s toy.”

    I think the writer did a respectful job covering our favorite company. One quote from the article stated that it is difficult to find just a box of bricks in Toys R Us. My first thought was that this person wasn’t looking with his eyes opened. then I visualized the 2 TRU near me and how the Creator/Bulk sets are on a wall perpendicular to the 1 aisle of themed LEGO sets. I have forgotten to check this wall a few times myself and I am addicted to the brick.

    The gallery accompanying this article has a pic of a new set in the Architecture theme, the White House.

    20 new LEGO Stores by the end of the year. Wow, that is a huge expansion considering there were only 27 stores before. Like countless others on this blog, I too feel like there needs to be a closer store to where I live (Long Island, NY). 1 of these new stores is opening closer to me, about 7 minutes closer but still I have to pay tolls to go to the store.

    As for the violence living in LEGOLAND, that is OK. Everything changes with time and if companies want to survive they must do so as well.

    The article also quotes a doc that worries about children only playing with the finished models of an Indy truck/vehicle. Is this all children do, build a model from instructions and then role play with said model? I would take that model, disassemble it and make whatever I wanted out of the bricks and role play with that (if at all because my role playing was saved for GI Joe, Transformers, Hot Wheels, He-Man and the like).

    Good to know that TLG is doing so well but if you read the free LEGO mag called “The Brick” that TBB let us know about earlier this year a lot of this news was old news. You can still request this mag if you’d like here:

    Thanks for the link Andrew. Thoroughly enjoyed the article.

  5. MdrnMrvls

    Wow Andrew, never knew you worked for Microsoft!

    As for the article, I liked it. It’s really nice to know they are going strong during this recession, and, even if they did go ‘bankrupt’ back in 2005, they’ve gotten to the point where they never really would go out of business. It has become such a well known and thoroughly enjoyed product, people would have to revive it, no matter what it takes. It’s kind of like a car company, we all heard the possibility of GM closing/merging, but it didn’t. It’s too well embedded within society for that to happen.

    “The article also quotes a doc that worries about children only playing with the finished models of an Indy truck/vehicle. Is this all children do, build a model from instructions and then role play with said model? I would take that model, disassemble it and make whatever I wanted out of the bricks and role play with that (if at all because my role playing was saved for GI Joe, Transformers, Hot Wheels, He-Man and the like)”

    Yeah, I didn’t agree with that doctor at all. The kid could easily make up a new scene, or rip it apart and make something new with it, as you said.

    Speaking of the new stores, anyone know if there’s one opening in Michigan? Chicago is probably the closest one to where I live. :(

    Great article, and thanks for notifying the AFOL community about this. :)

  6. dbol

    “It kept quality high and never moved any manufacturing to China”

    Not that I expect all that much from the New York Times, but they really shouldn’t just parrot whatever Lego tells them…

    Overall, though, I thought it was a good article.

  7. MacLane

    It’s great to see Lego talked about (and Brothers Brick mentioned) in the NYT, but I feel this article was a bit of a missed opportunity.

    The non-Lego oriented public seems to have the misconception that Lego only produces highly specialized pieces and has abandoned their core building elements. Unfortunately, this article only perpetuated this myth. While it is true that The Lego Group has increased its licensed properties, the Creator line is widely available (even at TRU) and was specifically designed to appeal to the builder who wants to build classic non-licensed sets.

    I think Lego is doing a fantastic job overall. The sets are way better than they were 5 years ago even though stickers are more common, the greys are more blueish and every set seems to have to have some sort of projectile. The licensing, addition of guns and the emphasis on cost cutting doesn’t feel that it is changing the core of what makes Lego “Lego”.

    The MMORPG Lego Universe is a little dodgy to me because I feel that one of the strengths of Lego is it’s physicality and tactile nature. The Lego video games are okay but not trying to replace the core action of Lego which (to me anyway) is “What can I make with these bricks?” Virtual bricks are kind of missing the point for me. This is partially because I work on a computer all day.

    I may be wrong, but it feels like this may be a bit of a reach. How can we compete with action figures? Galidor? So how should Lego compete with World of Warcraft? My guess is Lego should keep focusing on making great Lego sets so the word on the street isn’t “Why is Lego only making super-specialized pieces? Can you still get the regular old bricks?” I hear this constantly.

    Of course if the success of Lego Universe allows Lego to re-issue a 497 Galaxy Explorer, I’m all for it.

    Ah, Gaildor, The Delgo of the Lego world. If only there had been flick-firing missiles. Then it might have had a chance:)

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