Docstoc

Lego is one of the worlds most popular toys

Document Sample
Lego is one of the worlds most popular toys Powered By Docstoc
					                                         Jaime Sanchez
                                               sanjy009

                                              15/03/2006
LEGO: Design, Quality and
Company Values




Brief Review Essay
“Design, Culture and Environment” ARCH 1021

Tutor: Mads Gaardboe
Tutorial Time: Wednesday 10.00am
Quality is a fundamental part of the LEGO 1 company’s values and is integral to
maintaining quality. This is “total design”, where product quality is considered
paramount to commercial success 2 . There are three important examples of the LEGO
company’s commitment to quality via design; the ‘LEGO System’, the versatility of the
brick design, and their choice of materials and manufacturing methods.


LEGO is one of the world’s most popular toys, voted “Toy of the Century” 3 . LEGO
estimates each year 5 billion hours are spent playing with it and 15 billion bricks are
manufactured - there are on average 52 bricks for each person on Earth 4 . LEGO was
founded in 1932 in Billund, Denmark by Ole Kirk Christiansen. The name comes from
the Danish phrase “Leg Godt” meaning “Play Well”. Christiansen showed an early
commitment to quality with his company slogan “Det bedste er ikke for godt”-“Only the
best is good enough” 5 .




1
  The LEGO Group provides instructions on using the LEGO name. I am following their guidelines by writing LEGO in uppercase.
LEGO makes many different items as part of their range of interlocking toys. For clarity I will be referring to them all as ‘bricks’.
The LEGO Group, ‘Using the LEGO brand name’, Company Profile 2005, 2005, pp. 17, at
http://www.lego.com/info/pdf/LEGO_company_profile_UK.pdf (accessed 09/03/2006).

2
    Myerson, Jeremy, ‘Totally Successful’, Design, no. 530, February 1993, pp. 22.

3
    The LEGO Group, Company Profile 2005, pp. 3

Chen, Christine and Carvell, Tim, ‘Products of the Century’, Fortune, November 22, 1999 at
http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/1999/11/22/269110/index.htm (accessed 11/03/2006).

Author N/A, British Association of Toy Retailers, ‘Toy of the Century’ at
http://www.toyretailersassociation.co.uk/toty/totc20.htm (accessed 08/03/2006).

4
    The LEGO Group, Company Profile 2005, pp. 16

5
    Garassini, Stefania, ‘Lego. From brick-block to city and through to cyberspace’, Domus, no. 819, Oct 1999, pp. 84.




                                                                                                                                        2
LEGO did not invent the interlocking plastic brick. Before LEGO many similar plastic
brick-style construction toys were available 6 , the most significant of these were
Kiddicraft “Self Locking Building Bricks” which received patent #529,580 in November
1940 for “Improvements in Toy Building Blocks”. The patent described plastic hollow
square bricks with studs on top 7 . It is not clear if Christiansen was “inspired” by this
design 8 or stole it outright, but the original LEGO brick; the “Automated Binding Brick”
appeared in 1949 and was an almost identical copy 9 .




6
  These included Lott’s Bricks 1918, Bayko Bricks 1933, Bild-O-Brick 1934, Minibrix 1935, and Brickplay 1951.
Author N/A, Hampshire County Council, ‘Building Bricks’, at
http://www.hants.gov.uk/museum/toys/history/building_bricks.html ,(accessed 08/03/2006).

7
    Lilleker, Geoff, ‘Kiddicraft’’, at http://www.personal.u-net.com/~lilleker/con-kid.htm (accessed 06/03/2006).

8
  Austen, Ian, ‘Building a Legal Case, Block by Block’, The New York Times, 02/02/2005, at
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/02/business/worldbusiness/02lego.html?ex=1265000400&en=8b8cb1461dabd6f1&ei=50
90&partner=rssuserland (accessed 06/03/2006).

9
  Interlego A.G. v. Tyco Industries [1989] 1 A.,C. 217 from Hughes, Jim, ‘1949- The Automatic Binding Brick’, at
http://isodomos.com/technica/history/1940/1949.php (accessed 06/03/2006).

In 1981 LEGO purchased all rights to the Kiddicraft brick.




                                                                                                                    3
Amongst this early plagiarism however LEGO demonstrated their dedication to quality
via design with the introduction of the “LEGO System” in 1954 - 10 rules that outlined
how a toy should be part of a larger system 10 . The “LEGO System i Leg” was 28 sets of
buildings and 8 vehicles that made up a larger town. This innovation added quality by
versatility; instead of being a toy on its own, LEGO sets could be combined with other
LEGO sets, expanding how children could play. This system remains the basis for LEGO
to this day 11 .




10
     Garassini, Stefania, pp. 85.

11
   The LEGO Group, ‘Market and Results 2005’, Annual Report 2005 LEGO Group, 2005, pp. 8, at
http://www.lego.com/info/pdf/annualreport2005UK.pdf (accessed 09/03/2006).

Current LEGO systems include LEGO City, LEGO Vikings, LEGO Racers, LEGO Knights Kingdom, Ferrari, Star Wars and Harry
Potter themed sets, DUPLO Airport, DUPLO Zoo, DUPLO Princess Castle and Bionicle.




                                                                                                                        4
The second important example of quality via design was improvements to the
“Kiddicraft” brick. Round studs on top and round tubes underneath were added, and
patented by LEGO in 1958 12 . This elegant innovation allowed strong joints in almost any
arrangement, yet bricks could pull apart easily- a feature known as “clutch power” 13 . It
was the most important development in the design of the brick itself. It allowed
remarkable versatility of brick combinations; six standard eight stud bricks can be
combined 915,103,765 ways 14 . This allows LEGO to be almost unrestricted in how it can
be put together. An important contribution to this is versatility is “Super Synergy” 15 -
every LEGO brick is compatible with every brick manufactured since 1958 16 . When
LEGO is purchased, you are not buying one toy but many, and the flexibility is extended
almost infinitely with the addition of more LEGO through the “LEGO System”. LEGO is
open ended - it doesn’t prescribe how children play 17 .




12
    Austen, Ian, ‘Lego plays hardball with rights to bricks ‘, The International Herald Tribune, 03/02/2005, from Sorroco, Douglas
‘leggo my lego?’, at http://www.okpatents.com/phosita/archives/2005/02/leggo_my_lego.html and
 http://www.okpatents.com/phosita/images/pat3005282.pdf (accessed 06/03/2006)

13
   Hughes, Jim, ‘1949- The Automatic Binding Brick’, at http://isodomos.com/technica/history/1950/1958.php (accessed
06/03/2006).

Curiously my research has found many references to the term “clutch power”, but searching this term on the LEGO website
(http://www.lego.com/eng/Default.aspx) brings one result. LEGO prefers the term “stud-and-tube coupling system” to describe this
feature (http://www.lego.com/eng/create/designschool/lesson.asp?id=1_a).

14
     The LEGO Group, Company Profile 2005, pp. 16.

15
   Beaumont, Samuel, ‘The Success of LEGO: How and why LEGO has changed its design since 1932’, Industrial Design Honours
Thesis, University of South Australia, Louis Laybourne Smith School of Architecture and Design, 2002, pp.32

16
     The LEGO Group, Company Profile 2005, pp. 15.

17
     Casciani, Stefano, ‘Il gioco industriale’, Abitare, no. 318, May 1993, pp. 218.




                                                                                                                                     5
LEGO’s choice of manufacturing techniques and materials is integral to the success of
the stud-and-tube design. Early on LEGO did show their characteristic commitment to
quality by purchasing the first plastic injection molding machine in Denmark 18 . Mold
tolerances as small as 0.0002mm allows “clutch power” to work almost indefinitely, and
quality control is such that only 18 bricks per million do not meet LEGO standards 19 .


Originally the plastic LEGO used was cellulose acetate, but colours fade and it breaks
down. In 1963 it was replaced by ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) which is still
used today. It is a shiny, tough material, non-toxic, sterile and resistant to heat, acid, salt,
fat and oil 20 , essential qualities for children’s toys. LEGO is well aware of the
commercial importance of the quality of the plastic it uses:


           “This ABS material has been specially developed for our company and is not
available to others… no other manufacturer is able to make products with the same
unique clutch power, shine properties and colour stability as LEGO Group products
possess.” 21




18
   Author N/A, ‘LEGO History: A Chronological History of the LEGO Company and LEGO toys’, at
http://www.lugnet.com/pause/chronology.html (accessed 06/03/2006).

19
     The LEGO Group, Company Profile 2005, pp. 15.

LEGO quality can be seen is the thriving online secondhand market for LEGO. A search in online auction website www.ebay.com on
the word “LEGO” produces over 22000 products in 45 categories (accessed 12/03/2006) and sites such as www.bricklink.com allow
the purchase of individual LEGO pieces (“45,875,358 items in 1,515,231 lots in 2,104 stores” (accessed 12/03/2006)).

20
   Author N/A, ‘Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene’ at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acrylonitrile_butadiene_styrene (accessed
06/03/2006).

21
     The LEGO Group, ‘LEGO Company and Toy Safety’, at http://www.lego.com/eng/info/?page=safety (accessed 11/06/2006).




                                                                                                                             6
LEGO continues to make many important design steps in their products. These range
from the unique visual instructions that accompany LEGO models, to how LEGO
promotes itself to its ‘community’ of users, and LEGO has made their proprietary
software licenses available for public use. As a company, LEGO values are based on a
commitment to quality and LEGO recognises design as fundamental in achieving this.




                                                                                       7
                                       BIBLIOGRAPHY

Author N/A, ‘Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene’ at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acrylonitrile_butadiene_styrene (accessed 06/03/2006).

Author N/A, ‘British Inventor Puts the UK back on the Construction Toy Map’, at
http://www.morphun.com/about.html (accessed 06/03/2006).

Author N/A, ‘LEGO History: A Chronological History of the LEGO Company and LEGO toys’,
at http://www.lugnet.com/pause/chronology.html (accessed 06/03/2006).

Author N/A, British Association of Toy Retailers, ‘Toy of the Century’ at
http://www.toyretailersassociation.co.uk/toty/totc20.htm (accessed 08/03/2006).

Author N/A, Hampshire County Council, ‘Building Bricks’, at
http://www.hants.gov.uk/museum/toys/history/building_bricks.html ,(accessed 08/03/2006).

Austen, Ian, ‘Building a Legal Case, Block by Block’, The New York Times, 02/02/2005, at
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/02/business/worldbusiness/02lego.html?ex=12650004
00&en=8b8cb1461dabd6f1&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland (accessed 06/03/2006).

Austen, Ian, ‘Lego plays hardball with rights to bricks ‘, The International Herald Tribune,
03/02/2005, from Sorroco, Douglas ‘leggo my lego?’, at
http://www.okpatents.com/phosita/archives/2005/02/leggo_my_lego.html and
http://www.okpatents.com/phosita/images/pat3005282.pdf (accessed 06/03/2006).

Beaumont, Samuel, ‘The Success of LEGO: How and why LEGO has changed its design since
1932’, Industrial Design Honours Thesis, University of South Australia, Louis Laybourne Smith
School of Architecture and Design, 2002, pp.32.

Boger, Dan and Jennifer, ‘Peeron LEGO Set Inventories’, at www.peeron.com (accessed
06/03/2006)

Brown, Kenneth D, ‘Design in the British Toy Industry since 1945’, Journal of Design History,
Vol. 11, No. 4, 1998, pp. 323-333.

Casciani, Stefano, ‘Il gioco industriale’, Abitare, no. 318, May 1993, pp. 218.

Chen, Christine and Carvell, Tim, ‘Products of the Century’, Fortune, November 22, 1999 at
http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/1999/11/22/269110/index.htm
(accessed 11/03/2006).

Fishman, Charles, ‘Why Can’t Lego Click?’, Fast Company, at
http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/50/lego.html (accessed 06/03/2006).




                                                                                                8
                                      BIBLIOGRAPHY

Garassini, Stefania, ‘Lego. From brick-block to city and through to cyberspace’, Domus, no. 819,
Oct 1999, pp. 84.

Glaskin, Max, “LEGO”, Design, no. 500, Aug 1990, pp. 127.

Hughes, Jim, ‘1949- The Automatic Binding Brick’, at
http://isodomos.com/technica/history/1950/1958.php (accessed 06/03/2006).

Interlego A.G. v. Tyco Industries [1989] 1 A.,C. 217 from Hughes, Jim, ‘1949- The Automatic
Binding Brick’, at http://isodomos.com/technica/history/1940/1949.php (accessed
06/03/2006).

Koerner, Brendan I., “Geeks in Toyland”, WIRED, at
http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,69946-0.html (accessed 09/03/2006)

Kornberger, Martin, "Modeling the future”, (inside), no. 38, 2005, pp. 26.

The LEGO Group, ‘Image Library’, at
http://www.lego.com/eng/info/default.asp?page=images (accessed 11/06/2006).

The LEGO Group, ‘LEGO Company and Toy Safety’, at
http://www.lego.com/eng/info/?page=safety (accessed 11/06/2006).

The LEGO Group, ‘LEGO Timeline’ at
http://www.lego.com/eng/info/default.asp?page=timeline7 (accessed 11/03/2006).

The LEGO Group, Annual Report 2005 LEGO Group, 2005, at
http://www.lego.com/info/pdf/annualreport2005UK.pdf (accessed 09/03/2006).

The LEGO Group, ‘Product Quality and Safety’ at
http://www.lego.com/eng/info/?page=safety (accessed 11/03/2006).

The LEGO Group, Company Profile 2005, 2005, at
http://www.lego.com/info/pdf/LEGO_company_profile_UK.pdf (accessed 09/03/2006).

Lilleker, Geoff, ‘Kiddicraft’’, at http://www.personal.u-net.com/~lilleker/con-kid.htm
(accessed 06/03/2006).

Martin, Fred G., “The Art of LEGO Design”, The Robotics Practitioner: The Journal for Robot
Builders, volume 1, number 2, Spring 1995, at http://handyboard.com/techdocs/artoflego.pdf
(accessed 06/03/2006).

Myerson, Jeremy, ‘Totally Successful’, Design, no. 530, February 1993, pp. 22-24.

Sparke, Penny, The Plastics age: from bakelite to beanbags and beyond, Woodstock, N.Y.
,Overlook Press, 1993.




                                                                                               9
                                LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

Title page    LEGO bricks
from The LEGO Group, ‘Image Library’, at
http://www.lego.com/eng/info/default.asp?page=images (accessed 11/06/2006).

page 2         LEGO wooden duck 1930’s
from The LEGO Group, ‘LEGO Timeline’ at
http://www.lego.com/eng/info/default.asp?page=timeline7 (accessed 11/03/2006).

page 3          Kiddicraft “Self Locking Building Bricks”
from Lilleker, Geoff, ‘Kiddicraft’’, at http://www.personal.u-net.com/~lilleker/con-kid.htm
(accessed 06/03/2006).

page 4        1958 LEGO catalogue
from Boger, Dan and Jennifer, ‘Peeron LEGO Set Inventories’, at www.peeron.com (accessed
06/03/2006)

page 5         LEGO “stud and tube” patent
from Austen, Ian, ‘Lego plays hardball with rights to bricks ‘, The International Herald Tribune,
03/02/2005, from Sorroco, Douglas ‘leggo my lego?’, at
http://www.okpatents.com/phosita/images/pat3005282.pdf (accessed 06/03/2006).

page 6        ABS plastic pellets used in LEGO manufacture
from The LEGO Group, ‘Image Library’, at
http://www.lego.com/eng/info/default.asp?page=images (accessed 11/06/2006).

page 7        LEGO mini-figure
from The LEGO Group, Company Profile 2005, 2005, at
http://www.lego.com/info/pdf/LEGO_company_profile_UK.pdf (accessed 09/03/2006).

page 10       LEGO brick detail
from The LEGO Group, Company Profile 2005, 2005, at
http://www.lego.com/info/pdf/LEGO_company_profile_UK.pdf (accessed 09/03/2006).




                                                                                               10

				
DOCUMENT INFO
Shared By:
Categories:
Tags:
Stats:
views:53
posted:9/14/2011
language:English
pages:10