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.”
LEGO is celebrating its past in a big way this year. When founder Ole Kirk Christiansen began making toys in 1932, he made them out of wood before shifting to plastic. LEGO manufactured wooden toys until 1960, always with the highest commitment to quality. The LEGO brick may have taken over eventually, but the company’s origin is rooted in wooden toys. Today, LEGO announced they are returning to those roots in a big way — by launching a new product line selling an upscale wooden minifigure: LEGO Originals 853967 Wooden Minifigure.
The giant wooden minifigure will sell for US $119.99 | CAN 154.99 | UK £109.99. in select LEGO stores and online beginning November 3rd for LEGO VIPS with general availability beginning November 8th.
For well over a century, BRIO of Sweden has been manufacturing high-quality wooden toys. Builder ForlornEmpire was inspired to replicate BRIO’s MEC construction toy in LEGO-form. BRIO Mec sets typically consist of wooden beams, plastic pegs, tools and more. ForlornEmpire’s concept is whimsical looking in terms of form and presentation, complete with the characteristic tan representing wood and bright colors for the plastic mallet and pins. Speaking of the pins, they make clever use of the construction helmet and 2×2 disc weapon. Modifying the BRIO logo to read BRIC is a nice touch.
When LEGO was making toys from the 1930s through 1950s, they were contemporaries of BRIO. In fact, it’s worth noting how the BRIO Mec construction system is reminiscent of LEGO’s BILOfix wooden construction toys introduced in 1959. Both Scandinavian toy makers were likely inspired by metal beam construction toys like Meccano and Erector.
A while ago, we featured an in-depth look at metal-sculpted LEGO creations. But what happens when you cross a skilled wood craftsman with a pinch of LEGO love? You get a master sculptor that churns out larger than life-sized LEGO made of wood. These are not just any ordinary wooden figures, but they are made with basic hand tools and a lathe and fully articulated. For those unaware like me, a lathe is a machine used to form a piece of wood into the desired shape. We just had to speak to Craig Daniel and find out more.
While the LEGO Group is famous for plastic building bricks, the foundation of the company was built on the success of its wooden toys. In light of this, it’s charming to see LEGO fans like Jens Ohrndorf making brick-built versions of classic wooden toys, including this train set. Jens’ model is reminiscent of the wooden railway toys made by BRIO of Sweden, capturing the colorful simplicity of these vintage pull-toys. The iconic metal axles found on BRIO trains are represented by 1×1 round tiles in silver.
I imagine being a fisherman in the middle ages was a modest but good life–if you count out living out in the open, ready to be raided. Jako of Nerogue solves this problem for his fishermen with the fortifications around the village he built. This facilitates both a picturesque and also practical feeling about this whole diorama.
I love how the diorama really makes sense. The village is confined by the wooden walls, and nothing is left outside… Or maybe it was just all pillaged. Sadly there are not many pictures showing the fortification’s interior, but the outside is impressive enough on its own. The mixing of dark tan with exotic greens is very realistic and pleasant to look at, and the grass also hides some cleverly used clip pieces to simulate taller blades of grass. The whole diorama is brought together with a few splashes of brighter colours, like the regular green bushes and a bit of water in the back.