LEGO Education is celebrating its 40th anniversary, and we are exploring the history of this unique division of the LEGO Group. Part 1 presented an early history of LEGO Education, while Part 2 outlined the development of the first LEGO robotics platforms. In our 3rd and final installment, we dive into the story behind the game-changing release of LEGO Mindstorms.
Year after year, the LEGO city keeps expanding with plenty of houses, modular buildings, vehicles and, of course, fire & police stations. All that development is bound to attract legions of minifigures — it’s only a matter of days before the plastic trash begins to pile up. To keep up with this issue, LEGO has released several garbage trucks over the years, but what happens when baseplate streets become filthy? You need a good street sweeper, but the last street sweeper to appear in LEGO City was carted around by a minifig 12 years ago. That’s a long time for discarded 1×1 plates to accumulate alongside the curb. The wait is over because LEGO is back to keep the brick-built highways clean with set 60249 Street Sweeper. The set consists of 89 pieces and is available now via the online LEGO shop for $9.99 USD | $13.99 CAD | £8.99 GBP
LEGO Education is celebrating it’s 40th anniversary! As a birthday gift, we are commemorating the occasion with a three-part history feature on this special division of the LEGO Group. Part 1 provided an overview of the history of LEGO education from the 1980s through 1990s, but we left out an important component of the story. Part 2 picks up where we left off, covering the beginnings of LEGO’s programmable robots in the classroom and at home. These were the precursors of LEGO Mindstorms!
LEGO bricks have long been considered an educational toy, but it wasn’t until 1980 when The LEGO Group formally established an educational division. Known today as LEGO Education, the division is celebrating 40 years of collaborating with and developing educational tools for teachers around the world, with products ranging from Duplo to Mindstorms. Here at The Brothers Brick, we are taking a closer look at LEGO Education with a series of articles, and what better way to observe a 40th anniversary than with a history of the subject?
To get everyone pumped up, LEGO created a special video highlighting some of the key points behind the history of LEGO Education. Think of the video as a preview of the history we are about to cover here. Get ready, because it’s time to dive deep into LEGO Education 101!
Last week, we showed you more of Beryll Roehl’s wonderful LEGO test brick photographs. Today, we’re going to look at Norwegian collector Fabian Lindblad and his equally enjoyable snapshots of marbled bricks. Marbled bricks are named such after the swirls of different colored plastic they contain. Some elements are intentionally marbled for sets, while others are the result of changing over the plastic in a mold from one color to another. In the past, LEGO employees occasionally took them home to share with their children. Today, the standard procedure is to recycle them so they don’t leave the building. However, if you are really lucky, you might just find a marbling error in one of your latest sets.
When it comes to LEGO, Beryll Roehl is both a collector and artist. LEGO test bricks are the focal point of her collection, and she takes this hobby to the next level by beautifully photographing pieces alongside objects with similar colors. LEGO’s test bricks were produced in a multitude of materials and colors for the purpose of research and development, and they have an exciting history. To learn more about these unique relics of LEGO’s past, be sure to read our informative interview with Beryll. Since then, Beryll has photographed even more bricks like these black BASF bricks with a little bumblebee. How cute!
LEGO hasn’t always been a manufacturer of plastic building blocks. From 1932 until 1960, LEGO manufactured wooden toys and, this year, they are celebrating this heritage with the release of LEGO Originals Wooden Minifigure 853967. As a casual collector of wooden LEGO toys, I find the LEGO Originals line intriguing because LEGO is embracing its roots in such a way that allows the public to participate. As excited as I am for the future of LEGO Originals, I thought it might fun to take a look at what I like to call the original “LEGO Originals.”
1940s Quacking duck and circa late-1930s orange duck – image courtesy of Matthew Hocker
Continue reading to learn more about collecting vintage wooden LEGO toys
When it comes to collecting LEGO items, there are plenty of avenues to pursue. While vintage LEGO sets and gear are perhaps the most obvious choices, I prefer collecting LEGO ephemera. I have spent many hours scouting out old catalogs, brochures and instructions. Out of all the ephemera I have, period photographs of children enjoying LEGO sets are among my favorite pieces. Owning a retired set is enjoyable, but images from the past help contextualize LEGO products in a way a set alone cannot do. Photographs provide a window into the past when now-retired LEGO products were new, which is why I am sharing some of my favorite photographs with you!
With the release of the new Creator Expert 10266 NASA Apollo 11 Lunar Lander set, LEGO is once again delving into the world of space exploration. Some of the oldest, most notable, and most nostalgic LEGO sets and themes are based on space exploration, so it’s no surprise many of these sets are favorites of LEGO fans young and old. To commemorate the occasion, LEGO has compiled a list of interesting facts on LEGO Space sets, from the very first rocket ship in 1964, to the more recent behemoths of the past few years.
Want to learn some of the history behind the earliest LEGO Space sets? Or perhaps test your knowledge? Then read on to find out!
It’s hard to believe twenty years have passed since the release of the first official LEGO Star Wars sets. Unofficially, children and adults alike have been building Star Wars-themed models since the first film hit theaters in 1977. While many of these custom builds have been lost to history, some photographs of Star Wars models made their way into LEGO Club magazines like the UK’s Bricks ‘n Pieces and North America’s LEGO Mania Magazine. One of the earliest models I was able to find was this AT-AT walker from The Empire Strikes Back (1980). That movie was only two years old in 1982, which is when twelve year old Philip Dodge had his model featured in the Summer 1982 issue of Bricks ‘n Pieces. While the photography might not have aged well, his AT-AT looks amazing for having been built during the 1980s.
Do you have any 2×4 bricks in wild colors with unusual letters on their studs? If you do, you just might have a treasure from LEGO’s historic quest to improve the quality of its bricks back in the late 1950s-1960s. German LEGO fan Beryll Roehl (aka Fantastic Brick) enjoys collecting and artfully photographing such test bricks. We found Beryll’s pictures so impressive and intriguing that we reached out to her for an interview. Get ready for a fascinating and colorful journey into the wonderful world of test bricks!
TBB: Hi Beryll, and welcome to the Brothers Brick! Can you tell our readers little bit about yourself?
Beryll: Sure! I grew up in the late 1960s, so I come from the generation that built LEGO models with the few types of basic building blocks that were available. I currently live in small village in northern Germany with my three adult sons…and their LEGO bricks! Careerwise, I studied mathematics and art and currently work for a school in the special education sector.
TBB: Could you tell us why you collect test bricks and how you became interested in collecting them?
This time of year is one of the busiest for toy manufacturers, including the LEGO Group. In an effort to associate the brand with holiday gift-giving, the months of November and December bring a flurry of wintry-themed advertising. While much of the LEGO Group’s current advertising campaigns exist online, the company has a long history of producing holiday advertising in magazines, comic books, and mail order catalogs (aka LEGO Shop at Home catalogs). Our elves have been hard at work, sifting through the archives for some of the LEGO Group’s most memorable seasonal ads. Hop in the sleigh and hold tight for a wild ride back through time.