My LEGO Story
Before LEGO was the iconic brand it is today, its creator, Ole Kirk Christiansen, was a carpenter. In The Cult of Lego, John Baichtal and Joe Meno explain how Christiansen began to construct toys when his business of building and remodeling homes became unviable during the Great Depression. After building LEGO Group, Christiansen spent some time creating wooden consumer products (such as hangers and ironing boards), but with the success of his popular wooden duck pull toy in 1935, the company began to primarily focus on toy production. It was not until 1947 that the LEGO Group shifted from wooden toys to plastic ones with the purchase of their first injection-molding machine. Two years later, the four-sided automatic binding brick (which we know as LEGO) was born.
Of course, as a kid, I didn’t know any of this. I just enjoyed building dream houses and skyscrapers out of nothing. That’s essentially all I did; I never played with the minifigs because I thought they were boring since they were already constructed. For me, independent play usually involved making something, whether it was little kid arts and crafts, or spending countless hours as an adolescent playing the Sims, building and designing and decorating houses. I’d get bored letting my Sim characters live their lives, just like the minifigs had bored me when I was younger. I’d save money for expansion packs of these games just so I would have more things to build.
Looking back on all of this now, I realize that I am retrospectively constructing my own interpretation of these experiences. Was my LEGO play the root cause of the way I handled the experiences that followed? Maybe not, but with hindsight it sure makes a lot of sense, especially considering that my current construction interests have shifted to how language and texts construct meaning and identity, which is what led me to take on this project.