What’s quite impressive of the global toy brand LEGO was that for its worldwide reach it never needed to go as a publicly trading company, but one that remained a true family business. To this day ownership of LEGO ultimately rests with the Kristiansen family of founder Ole Kirk Kristiansen.
In the latest development concerning the Kristiansen family, Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen has announced his departure from the board of directors for LEGO A/S effective next month. The now 71-year-old grandson of the original LEGO founder is leaving his son Thomas Kristiansen as deputy chairman of the board, again passing the family baton, generation to generation.
Kristiansen tells The Financial Times that his stepping down from the LEGO board of directors is part of the whole family’s procedure on maintaining generational ownership of the global toy company. With this step complete, the only position Kristiansen still holds is the chairmanship of their investment firm KIRKBI A/S.
His successor Thomas Kristiansen became a board member of LEGO back in 2007, and was appointed to the deputy chairmanship two years ago. His presence ensures the Kristiansen family retains a voice among the directors as “the most active owner.”
Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen took over as LEGO CEO following the death of his father Gotfried in 1979. He stepped down from active management of the company in 2004, replaced by the first non-family CEO of LEGO, Jørgen Vig Knudstorp. He himself was replaced by Niels B. Christiansen, though he remained chairman. Knudstorp and Thomas Kristiansen are now selecting candidates to replace Kjeld on the board.
This won’t be the first time we’ve featured a LEGO MOC that’s geared towards scientific ends. Before, we’ve covered a brick-built sundial and even a scanner setup for detecting nerve gas and airborne biological agents. And now, we’ve come across another far-out scientific application for LEGO bricks, producing cultured meat.
Lab-grown meat research isn’t exactly new, but using LEGO pieces to make equipment to do so is now a thing. Researchers from Penn State University and the University of Alabama have been pondering on how to make cultured meat from starch fibers have an “organic” texture. The solution was a device that spins the starch fiber into a “meat-like” structure.
According to Food and Wine, the research teams hit upon constructing a spinning wheel for the cultured-meat fabric using various LEGO parts and moved by Power Functions motors. Plastic was the material of choice they used due to being non-conductive.
Using the setup pictured above, the researchers were able to have the spinning mechanism cause the starch fabric to align into muscle cells just like with real steak-grade meat. Of course, the small LEGO setup used means the quantity of lab-grown meat isn’t much, but the experiment has proven the concept, making the team confident in replicating the method with a larger version in future.
If you’re curious as to whether the experimenters will continue to use LEGO in their later studies of making organic-like cultured meat, the answer’s actually no. But again, the iconic toy brand has come through with its wondrously wide applicability that even scientist can rely on it for their work.
In the long and hard-fought war between The LEGO Group and various manufacturers producing copycat versions of their products, especially in China, one “brand name” stands out the most: Lepin. LEGO has focused its efforts on the Longjun Toys subsidiary, winning a significant copyright victory in Lepin’s home country, China. Now, the proceedings go international.
The next battlefield between The LEGO Group and Lepin is in the UK, where the latter had registered their trademark back in September 1, 2017. LEGO made its case to have the Lepin trademark invalidated with the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) just last month.
Ultimately the UKIPO sided with LEGO’s argument and issued a cancellation order for the Lepin trademark last week, March 19. In addition to the cancelled trademark, Longjun Toys is now mandated to pay The LEGO Group £3,100 in litigation costs. That makes it two LEGO markets where Lepin is humbled.
As part of their argument for the trademark cancellation, LEGO submitted as evidence side-by-side image comparisons of certain LEGO sets with their Lepin copies as taken from Amazon. The most Longjun Toys did to contest the proceedings was a counterargument that their 2017 trademark registration doesn’t noticeably hurt LEGO’s market.
In its conclusion the UKIPO agreed that the similarities between the LEGO and Lepin trademark logos are deliberately similar. Furthermore, the purposeful copying by Lepin is construed as piggybacking on LEGO’s own product marketing. With their UK trademark cancelled, Longjun Toys might soon see its Lepin arm get crushed legally.
In this day and age, countries all over the world take steps to cut down on their use of plastics. There’s been enough public information and studies around to spur everyone to take action and focus on sustainability. That includes LEGO, which pushes for renewable materials even as they continue using plastics with their products.
Following the annual report that highlighted their 2018 growth, LEGO Group CEO Niels B. Christiansen sat down in interview with Business Insider about the company’s future plans. One topic was the continuing prominence of plastic in LEGO sets despite their increased use of plant-based alternatives.
A point Christiansen makes is that the plastic used in LEGO sets is one that lasts long, mentioning that his 40-year-old LEGO bricks from childhood remain good for play and assembly even today. “It’s not that kind of plastic that’s ending up in the trash and polluting the environment,” he adds, saying that it’s “disposable plastics,” or that which is meant to be trashed quickly, that LEGO tries to reduce.
The long referred-to year 2030 goal of The LEGO Group for sustainability doesn’t actually mean phasing out plastics in their products, but rather to invest in wider use of sustainable sources like plant materials to make the plastic that goes in every LEGO brick, that would retain the long-lasting toughness current LEGOs are known for.
Christiansen also mentioned a trend showing growth slowdown in the brand’s European markets compared to increases in new locations like China. “I can’t really say I think Europe is ‘bored’ of LEGO,” he notes, elaborating that their design teams are only further inspired to find new imaginative and innovative concepts to catch buyers’ interests.
The increasing markets in China and North Africa, Christiansen attributes to improved standards of living and growth in middle-class families that are more aware of LEGO than before. He thus directs the company to focus on these children, and adults. “This is what we as the LEGO family thinks about, what drives us forward,” concludes the LEGO CEO, “and I believe that in doing this in a sustainable and responsible way, by investing, we’ll grow and be profitable as a company.”
Jared Jacobs, known on Twitter as Gold Yeller, has cemented his rep as LEGO builder and stop-motion animator with his online stock-in trade. He has recreated a lot of awesome game moments from a wide variety of sports and competitions, using LEGO sets in stop-motion and recorded actual play-by-play commentary.
We’ve seen his creative genius ourselves when we covered his stop-motion recreation of a highlight in US College Football, the “Kick Six” which led to Auburn beating Alabama in 2013. He’s since released more awesome videos on his Twitter page, and this is his latest.
Serving as something of a pick-me-up for the University of Michigan following their falling out of contention for the Big Ten this past weekend, Gold Yeller recreated one high point of the Wolverines from the previous year. This was an impressive buzzer-beating 3-point shot delivered against Houston by Jordan Poole.
In the same fashion as his “Kick Six” sequence, we see the March 2018 Michigan-Houston game for the NCAA Tournament’s second round. In the last seconds, the Wolverines launch a determined drive to the Houston side of the court. A pass puts the ball in Poole’s hands, and he launches it in a fade-away that leaves him on his back, but sinking the basket for three as the bell rings.
Additional touches to the stop-motion sequence include animated facial expressions to depict the crowd’s and benches’ reactions. Also caught was the defeated posture of a Houston player who flopped on the floor as Jordan Poole is mobbed by his teammates. And was that Harry Potter?
While Michigan this year will miss the Big Ten, at least they’ll have this Jared Jacobs mini-production to remind the team that they’re still awesome.
The Reputation Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts has for some time been keeping track of how the world perceives its businesses. Their annual ranking of the reputation levels of major companies in both regional markets and the world has been invaluable to many quarters, and factors into these businesses’ future success.
LEGO undoubtedly is uber enough among multinational brands to be part of the Reputation Institute’s “RepTrak” lists. Last year they were the top reputable company in Europe, and the second in the world. This March, RI has publicized its 2019 RepTrak 100 list, and LEGO is revealed to still be going strong at second place.
Needless to say, The LEGO Group is pleased that they’ve maintained their record for impeccable corporate reputation in the eyes of the world. Their CEO Niels B. Christiansen says in a statement that their high public regard is due to the dedication of their employees to make LEGO the most trusted toy name for children.
Christiansen also made sure to mention how the company bounced back from an uncertain 2017 to become solid again in their latest annual results. He thus shared this momentous triumph will all LEGO employees for making the brand the best for many children, regarding toys.
Reputation Institute works out their RepTrak lists by considering respondents’ opinions on companies’ products/services, innovation, workplace, governance, citizenship (how well they work with their respective home nations’ governments), leadership and performance (obviously). Public respondents for RI come from 15 countries.
While LEGO is 2nd on the 2019 RepTrak 100, watchmaker Rolex is at the top spot. Following LEGO in ranking order for the top ten are Disney, Adidas, Microsoft, Sony, Canon, Michelin, Netflix and Bosch.
In Hereford, UK there’s an old house built during the 17th Century that serves as one of that cathedral city’s main tourist attractions. Constructed in the half-timbered Jacobean style and painted black and white, the Old House – now a museum – is the subject of a LEGO build that’ll soon become part of its own exhibits.
With the Hereford Old House soon to host a LEGO Brick History Exhibition, Shona Ashton has decided to contribute a brick-built scale model of The Old House. Thus far her project has progressed thanks to contributions of bricks from donors in her community; but her build is not yet complete.
With the Brick History Exhibition kicking off Saturday next week Ashton, a designer from the local New Model in Technology and Engineering (NMiTE) school, has put out a request on the local press and social media. Her LEGO Old House is still several bricks short.
Ashton’s post on her Twitter page actually lists the specific LEGO bricks and elements she needs to finish her Old House model. From her recent photo of the build, it’s still missing pieces for roof tiles and the white “timber” to fit between the black “posts” on the second floor.
Besides Shona Ashton’s Old House, other models to be showcased by NMiTE builders at the LEGO Brick History Exhibition will be builds of various mobile phones, the DNA double-helix, the Big Bang, and LEGO statues of Martin Luther King and Mozart, among others. The exhibit, launched in partnership with the Herefordshire Council, begins March 16.
Through the UK theme park operating company Merlin Entertainments, LEGO lends its name to the various LEGOLAND Resorts all over the world. With eight already open and no less than three more under construction, LEGOLAND is steeping up to be a major international theme park chain. LEGO fans and their families enjoy these resorts greatly.
In Asia, two LEGOLAND parks can be found. One of them is LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort in Iskandar Puteri, Johor District. The original theme park complex opened in 2012, followed by LEGOLAND Water Park in 2016. It boasts being the first LEGOLAND to feature the company’s virtual reality roller coaster attraction.
But for all its hype, LEGOLAND Malaysia hasn’t been getting a lot of visiting guests especially in 2018. According to Bloomberg the park’s Malaysian owner, the state-owned sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional, has begun considering options for selling the resort.
Finance insiders shared with Bloomberg that Khazanah is waiting for suitable offers before committing to an announcement of the sale. This was revealed through a recent Kuala Lumpur press conference with the sovereign wealth fund’s managing director Shahril Ridza Ridzuan. No final decision on the matter has been made although interested buyers are already welcome to initiate talks with Khazanah.
If a deal to sell is made soon, the current valuation of LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort is 1 billion Malaysian ringgits ($245 million). This includes the theme park’s debts, exacerbated by low visitor counts last year.
For travelers planning to go to Malaysia (or Singapore, which is closer to Johor than Kuala Lumpur), they can check out booking options for the LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort, LEGOLAND Water Park and the LEGOLAND Hotel at their official website here.
Last month, the South Korean electronics manufacturer Samsung presented a prospective new mobile device of theirs. They’re keen on seeing it revolutionize the development of smartphones and tablet computers. Why? Because their Samsung Galaxy Fold is a smartphone that can “unfold” into a tablet, thanks to a foldable AMOLED display.
This bit of news seems out of place where LEGO is concerned. At least, that’s how it was until LEGO suddenly made an April Fools’ joke weeks early. On their Twitter page they put a promotional image for the “LEGO Fold,” in a hilarious rip of the Samsung Galaxy Fold.
LEGO’s ad is an obvious parody of the Korean folding phone-tablet. Playing the role of the Galaxy Fold was last year’s LEGO Ideas set, the Pop-Up Story Book (21315). The toy brand’s Twitter caption boasted the set’s “5-inch cover unfolding into an 11-inch pop-up storybook.”
For tech-heads, that pronouncement was a send-up to the specs of the Samsung Galaxy Fold, which had a 4.6-in phone display and the 7.3-inch folding tablet-screen. Also gaining chuckles was LEGO’s assertion that its own Fold never runs out of battery charge. Lastly, the Ideas Pop-Up Book (21315) is more affordable at $69.99 than the Galaxy Fold’s alleged $2,000 price.
We’re not quite sure what inspired LEGO to do a parody of Samsung. It is a funny tweet for all intents and purposes. And perhaps they’re advertising that the LEGO Ideas Pop-Up Book (21315) is still available for purchase in retailers and online at Shop@Home.
When a toy brand becomes such a multinational behemoth like LEGO, they can extensively diversify their product offerings. They can range from printed, TV and cinematic media; clothing and costumes; to more material stuff like themed accessories such as backpacks and wristwatches. And then we have this new household item.
The LEGO Minifigure Ceramic Mug (853910) is but another development of the manufacture of assorted LEGO goods that carry the distinctive design of the brand’s toys. In this case, the mug is colored and shaped into a standard minifigure head, but drinking-sized. The minifig face is custom painted into a knowing smirk, evoking “Emoji” imagery.
As taken from its name, this is no throwaway plastic mug. The minifigure shape is made out of ceramic, therefore good for hot beverages like milk, coffee and coco. And at 300 ml capacity, you can fill it with a good amount of drink too.
LEGO collectors can get this Minifigure Ceramic Mug (853910) for $14.99. From its 6+ age rating it’s a great gift for children and might give just a little motivational push with its great design to get them to drink their milk. AFOLs in turn might enjoy the theming and smiley-face, topping it up with their drink of choice while they’re busy set-assembling or MOC-building.
Seeing as the product blurb’s quite short, we’ll include it:
Enjoy your favorite beverages from this LEGO® Iconic 853910 Ceramic Mug. Shaped like an iconic minifigure head and printed with a fun smiley face, this 300ml yellow mug is perfect for when you need to take a break from building your LEGO creations.
- Yellow ceramic 300ml mug in the form of an iconic minifigure head, printed with a fun facial expression.
- Measures over 3” (9cm) high.