LEGO and National Geographic have announced they are partnering on a new line of LEGO City and Friends sets meant to inspire kids to be more environmentally conscious. The new sets (which have been available in most countries since June 1st–available in the Americas starting August 1st) feature ocean exploration and animal rescue themes. The sets include a menagerie of new LEGO animals including a hammerhead shark, anglerfish, manta ray, baby pandas, sloths, alpacas, and multiple elephants.
The sets feature the National Geographic Explorers logo, and LEGO announced it is also donating to the National Geographic Society to fund grants in ocean exploration and species conservation. As part of the campaign, LEGO has also launched an “Explore the World” website and video series to help kids develop creative ideas to address real-life environmental issues.
LEGO’s support of the Black Lives Matter movement and their sizeable donation is a notable response to the tragic events unfolding throughout the US, especially considering their own flagship store in New York was looted earlier this week. These pictures from Twitter users @aaronwhite and @SteveKornacki show the Flatiron District LEGO Store’s windows smashed and shelves wiped clean, with only a broken Star Destroyer and a few permanent displays remaining.
LEGO’s core values state that the company will strive to “make a positive difference in the lives of children… not because we have to – but because it feels right and because we care.” LEGO has also asked retailers and affiliates to pause advertising a variety of products including City sets featuring police officers and firefighters as well as the new LEGO Architecture White House.
Julia Goldin, Chief Marketing Officer of LEGO, sent a message to LEGO fans and communities thanking them for their creativity during difficult times. In her message, she reflected on the tough global situation and shared some thoughts about how important the AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO) community is to her.
You can watch the video message and read a complete transcript below.
Sixty-two years ago today on January 28, 1958, Godtfred Kirk Christiansen submitted a patent application for a toy building brick which was approved six months later. That patent for his “highly sophisticated inter-locking brick system” has since led to LEGO becoming one of the largest toy companies on the globe.
The original Danish patent not only covered a single brick but an entire building system where multiple interlocking plastic building elements “could be put together in a great number of mutually different positions” including several early brick designs pictured below, courtesy of LEGO.
Over the past year, LEGO has produced quite a few special sets with limited availability, including regional and retailer exclusives like the Chinese New Year sets and the Darth Vader Bust. Access to these products has typically been extremely limited, forcing many frustrated LEGO fans both in the US and abroad to go out of their way and pay exorbitant amounts of money from scalpers and other sites to obtain the sets. Starting in May, all that is about to change for the better.
Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen is stepping down from LEGO’s board of directors, essentially passing on control of the company to the next generation of the Kristiansen family. Like a parent giving their child a LEGO set they grew up with, Kjeld announced that he will step down from LEGO next month, which leaves his son Thomas Kristiansen acting in his stead as the fourth-generation Kristiansen to help lead the company.
The change follows a plan to make a generational shift in leadership which has been happening for several years since Thomas joined the board in 2007. He and LEGO Brand Group CEO Jorgen Vig Knudstorp are interviewing candidates to ultimately replace Kjeld on the board with the goal in mind of bringing in someone to help the company through their centennial anniversary.
Kjeld has been a reassuring presence to the LEGO fan community throughout the years, visiting several conventions and driving the creation of the LEGO House in Billund, Denmark. He is the son of Godtfred Kirk Christiansen (who was the son of LEGO inventor Ole Kirk Christiansen), and appeared on LEGO boxes as a child. He was CEO of LEGO from 1979 until 2004 and has continued to be a driving and inspirational influence on the company.
The full press release as well as a history of the Kristiansen family’s ownership of LEGO is included after the jump.
A long time ago… twenty years to be exact, The LEGO Group teamed up with Lucasfilm Ltd. to begin production of sets based on the Star Wars universe. It was the first time LEGO had ever created products based on someone else’s story and characters, translating those fantastic tales into the LEGO world. That partnership has since spawned more than 500 sets, a hit video game franchise, television shows, and countless minifigures that have inspired multiple generations. LEGO Star Wars not only helped save the company from the brink of bankruptcy, but has become one of the top-selling global themes every year since.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of LEGO Star Wars, the company is launching five special sets featuring iconic ships with exclusive throwback minifigures in tribute of the storied history of the franchise. The sets will be available later this year (likely in April), and we will bring you exact release information when it becomes available.
There are only a few days left to submit entries to Bricklink’s AFOL Designer Program before the Nov. 18th deadline. Up to 20 finalists will be judged by current LEGO designers, and the winning designs will be crowdfunded, produced and sold by Bricklink.
Earlier today, a district court in China ruled against four companies for infringing multiple LEGO copyrights by producing and distributing LEPIN-branded imitation products. The companies were ordered to “immediately cease producing, selling, exhibiting or in any way promoting the infringing products” and to pay LEGO 4.5 million RMB in damages (about $650,000 US).
The four companies, including Shantou Meizhi Model Co. among others, were held liable by the Guangzhou Yuexiu District Court for copying 18 specific LEGO sets and multiple minifigures in addition to “carrying out unfair competitive acts.” Niels B. Christiansen, CEO of the LEGO Group commented that the rulings “send a clear warning message to other companies who may be copying LEGO products,” and that the company will continue to “take all necessary legal actions to protect our intellectual property rights.”
The ruling is another significant legal victory for LEGO as the company continues to battle imitators in China. Last year, LEGO won a similar case against Bela Bricks for creating, distributing and selling imitation LEGO products. The rulings also provide precedent to continue pursuing many other clone brands who have tried shutting down and reopening with different names to avoid enforcement.
Today LEGO launched a new initiative in cooperation with Bricklink called the AFOL Designer Program where fans can submit custom designs which will be then be produced and sold by Bricklink. (The term AFOL is an acronym that stands for “Adult Fan of LEGO.”) The creations will be judged by current LEGO designers, “crowdfunded” through pre-sales, then released as limited edition 60th Anniversary sets.
The one-time program will accept submissions through November 18, and the designs must be created in Bricklink’s new Studio 2.0 software. Up to 20 finalists will be selected for judging. The eventual release of the fan-designed sets is slated for April 2019, with 10 percent of the sales going to the designer.
To celebrate May the 4th and the upcoming summer blockbuster Solo: A Star Wars Story, LEGO Master Builders created a Millennium Falcon pedicab out of 20,300 bricks that you can take a ride on if you are lucky enough to be near Bryant Park in New York City today.