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The Surprising New Owner of Modulex...

IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,325
edited October 2014 in Everything else LEGO
OK... I need to pay attention to these things better.... ;-)

The new re-introduction of diminutive scale Modulex Bricks, which were first produced by TLG as an architectural system in 1962-63 is what I'm talking about... Modulex was a smaller version of LEGO that was not designed on the LEGO 6:6:5 (Length x Width x Height) but on a more perfect 5:5:5 scale... where a 1x1 brick is an actual cube, instead of a rectangle.

Modulex was spun off by TLG in 1965, and morphed from an architectural bricks and industrial design system into one of the largest sign companies... which although still in business today... stopped producing the small plastic bricks decades ago.

For those unfamiliar with Modulex... here's a quick overview... from Appendix D of my 2800 page Unofficial LEGO Sets/Parts Collectors Guide...
https://www.google.com/search?q=Downtown+Detroit+Gas+Stations&rlz=1C1CHFX_enUS601US601&oq=Downtown+Detroit+Gas+Stations&aqs=chrome..69i57j0.5559j0j7&sourceid=chrome&es_sm=0&ie=UTF-8


So anyway... the cool Modulex system has not been produced for many decades... and earlier this summer it was announced that Modulex was going to be re-introduced... that someone got the license to produce these again. I wasn't paying attention, and really didn't think much about it.... until today....

I just found out that the person who now owns the license is a Dane by the name of Anders Kirk Johansen... ding ding ding.... alarm bells went off... but the good kind!! ;-)

I'm adding a new chapter for my next version of my collectors guide (free to current owners)... based on the LEGO founding family... the Christiansen/Kristiansen family. And in putting this together I researched the 4th generation of the family... namely Sofie Kirk Kristiansen (37), Thomas Kirk Kristiansen (36), Agnete Kirk Kristiansen... and their cousin (bingo!) Anders Kirk Johansen!!

First some background....

Lego founder Ole Kirk Christainsen (1891-1958) had 4 boys... Godtfred (1920-1995), Johannes, Gerhardt and Karl Georg. Godtfrend was the "LEGO System" guy and bought his 3 bothers out of their share of the company in the early 1960s, because they wanted wooden toys... and Godtfred insisted on plastic toys only. So eventually Godtfred's family became billionaires today... but the other 3 brothers family didn't fare so well... I don't believe there's even a millionaire among the rest of them.

So Godtfred had 3 kids... the oldest was Gunhild (1946- ), Kjeld (1947-) and Hanne (1951-1969). These 3 kids would be on LEGO set boxes of 1953-60...

Such as this 1955-57 design of the 700/3A basic set of the Netherlands box top showing Gunhild, Hanne, and Kjeld...

image

More to come.... (getting back on track about Modulex)... ;-)


LegoKipakunthita

Comments

  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,325
    edited October 2014
    Anyway... now that you know the 3 grandkids of LEGO founder Ole Kirk Christiansen (and kids of Godtfred Kirk Christiansen)... Hanne died in 1969 in a car accident that Kjeld was severly injured in. So that just left Kjeld and Gunhild as the future heirs of what eventually became LEGO billions.

    Fast forward to the present.

    Godtfred died in 1995, and his 2 surviving children (and his still surviving 90 year old widow Edith) became the owners of KIRKBI A/S the parent holding company of TLG.

    Here is a modern day image of Gunhild, and her husband Mogans Johansen. Also in this image is her still surviving mother Edith Kirk Christiansen, who turned 90 this past May 29th.... this image was at the 2012 wedding of their son/grandson (drum roll) Anders Kirk Johansen....
    image


    Back in 2007 Gunhild's brother Kjeld... bought out Gunhild's share of the LEGO family fortune. LEGO was still recovering from the 2004 disaster... and Gunhild received more than $1 billion dollars for her share.

    Now fast forward to today... TLG is now valued at about $14 billion... but one can't feel real bad for Gunhild... she has more money than she will ever spend.

    So one of the spenders of her share of TLG... is the oldest of her and Mogan's 3 sons... Anders Kirk Johansen.

    Here we seen Anders in front of "Rohden Gods"...
    image

    Rohden Gods is the 5 story palatial villa near the coast of Jutland... about a half hours drive from Billund. Rohden Gods was the former residence of the Canadian Ambassador... and the estate was purchased a few years back for $40 million... with a lot more put into it to restore the great country house.

    So this is Anders Kirk Johansen... the new owner of Modulex Bricks!! With a mom with very deep pockets... and an uncle even richer.... it adds interest to the Modulex story. This is not some cheap endeavor to bring back the Modulex system... but a monied LEGO family member. So I see good things for Modulex!

    And why did I go to all the trouble of even mentioning Rohden Gods estate? Well there is a reason for that... it seems that when you do a Google search on the Modulex Bricks new business address... you get this: Rohdenvej 4, 7140 Stouby, DK.

    And that address near the Danish town of Stouby, just happens to be that of.... Rohden Gods Estate... ;-)

    (more to come later)
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,325
    I neglected to mention that Rohden Gods estate was purchased by Anders Kirk Johansen as his own home and that of his wife. The house doesn't look like it's worth $40 million, but it is built on a hillside, with the ground sloping down towards the much more impressive back of the house, and is very palatial on the inside. Here Anders and his wife entertain friends such as the Crown Prince and Princess of Denmark (son and daughter-in-law of the Queen of Denmark), as well as cousins Sofie, Thomas and Agnete (children of Kjeld). And now the estate is the HQ for Modulex.
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,325
    edited October 2014
    Rohden Gods estate is more than just a fantasy for the rich (and not so famous)... the buildings on the estate (besides the main house)... also provide an eye opener for visitors. I'm not sure whether or not Modulex production will be housed within the estate itself... but this certainly is one of the more interesting places in Denmark... ;-)

    http://cargocollective.com/andreasbrink/Rohden-Gods

    (Be sure to click on the website image for a slideshow...)
    LegoKip
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 20,298
    There has been a thread on Eurobricks for a couple of months about Modulex coming back.

    http://www.eurobricks.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=99548&hl=modulex

    And Eurobricks user jodawill has posted some images of test bricks from the new run ...

    http://imgur.com/a/5Oo75
  • akunthitaakunthita USAMember Posts: 1,038
    Fascinating story! I was just at BrickWorld Tampa this past weekend and chatted with a former LEGO designer from Denmark. He was telling me how Modulex was bought back by the family and that he knows that house. I was confused because although I knew Modulex was getting resurrected, I had no idea it had ties to the LEGO family. Now it is all clear how it is all connected! Thanks, Gary! :)
  • NatebwNatebw Tampa BayMember Posts: 339
    I, too, talked to the Modulex guy at Brickworld Tampa. I didn't get much time to talk, as I was chasing my kids around. I hadn't heard of Modulex before. I wish I would have read this last week. :)
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,325
    edited October 2014
    Oppps.... I screwed up my link above... (Detroit Gas Stations instead of Modulex... DUH!!).... hehehe..... silly me... ;-)

    Here is the "primer" on Modulex that I wanted to show (Appendix D from my collectors guide)...

    http://www.youblisher.com/p/734257-MODULEX-Architectural-System-Appendix-D/
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,325
    edited October 2014
    Wow... talk about Deja Vu.... I just noticed the date...

    It was 45 years ago today... Oct. 30, 1969... that poor young (18 year old at the time) Hanne Christiansen (younger sister to both Gunhild and Kjeld) died of injuries sustained in a car accident on a cold rainy October night, while being driven to a movie theatre in Give, a town near Billund. The car skidded off the road and hit a tree.

    Kjeld was also in that car, and received severe injuries that took many months to heal.

    This 1959 image of Hanne when she was about 8 years old, was part of a leaflet for building doll house furniture out of LEGO. It's the last known image of her for a LEGO product.

    image

    The accident so devastated their father Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, that the grief stricken man spent many months soul searching on whether to sell TLG. Lucky for us, he was talked out of it...
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,325
    On a happier note...

    Today TLG is owned by the holding company known as KIRKBI A/S. The principal owners of this holding company are Kjeld and Camilla Kristiansen... with 62.5% ownership of KIRKBI A/S

    image



    Their 3 adult married children are... Agnete (31), Thomas (35) and Sofie (36)... who own the remaining 37.5% of KIRKBI A/S, with each of them owning 12.5%...

    image


    With KIRKBI A/S worth about $14 billion.... that makes for a lot of billionaires. ;-)
  • legogallegogal USMember Posts: 755
    Gary, Thanks for this story about Modulex and the owners of LEGO. It is amazing that these people have remained so private because that is hard to do with the Internet. Let's hope that they don't sell the company to some big publicly-traded corporation (like Mattel.) That would ruin LEGO for many of us.
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,325
    edited October 2014
    Thanks Legogal! I think that as long as Kjeld (who will be 67 in December) is around, there is no worry about that. And even once he's gone... his 3 very nice adult children are and likely always will love their native Denmark, and would see a sale as damaging to their native Jutland region of the country. This next generation is already want for nothing, so I don't see a sale ever happening... at least not in our lifetime!

    P.S. I love how everyone's middle name is "Kirk"... ;-)
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,325
    It seems that Anders Kirk Johansen has other business interests besides Modulex, to occupy his time...
    http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/Denmarks-Lego-heir-Anders-Kirk-Johansen-vehicle-designer-Henrik-Fisker-combine-talents-luxury-motorcycle-Viking-Concept/story-22512339-detail/story.html

    Also... everybody seems to be getting this wrong... Anders... like his cousins Sofie, Thomas and Agnete... is NOT a grandchild of LEGO founder Ole Kirk Christiansen... but a greatgrandchild....
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,325
    edited November 2014
    LEGO royalty.... the next generation...

    Here we have Sofie Kirk Kristiansen (in red) with her husband Christopher, with the future King/Queen of Denmark... Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary... at the occasion of the wedding of their cousin Anders Kirk Johansen, 2 years ago.

    The Kristiansen/Johansen family is very close friends with the Danish royal family of Queen Margrethe.

    image

    I believe that the close ties between the Danish royals and Danish LEGO royals... will ensure the continuation of TLG to be a Danish company in the family's hands for many years to come...
  • TLGTLG Member Posts: 125
    Great posts Garry, it seems like LEGO is Denmark's premiere brand...
  • VenunderVenunder Nottingham, UK.Member Posts: 2,617
    It would be hard for the Danish Royalty to ignore one of the major Industrialist families of Denmark.
    Now that they are friends? It will take quite a lot to alienate them.

    Although it would be quite easy to lose a fortune in the motor industry.
    It would be good to see the TLG family develope the clean energy industry and transport systems for the future of Denmark and the world.
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,325
    Here's an image of a Royal Visit to Billund in 2012 by Denmark's Queen Margrethe and her husband Prince Consort Henrik. Facing away from the camera are Camilla (Kjeld's wife), Kjeld's 90 year old mother Edith Kirk Chrstiansen, and LEGO owner Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen.

    image
  • Kevin_HyattKevin_Hyatt UKMember Posts: 778
    So when are we likely to see some Modulex at retail do you reckon? Also will users of Modulex be shunned by the Orthodox Community?
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,325
    Since Modulex was a TLG product... I don't think any AFOLs will shun it. Now with the TLG connection (of sorts) re-establised, I wonder if they'll be able to sell on the official LEGO website... and also wonder about TLGs distribution network? I don't expect to ever seen Minitalia at TRU... but maybe at Barnes & Noble, etc...
  • Kevin_HyattKevin_Hyatt UKMember Posts: 778
    I can't see it being sold on the LEGO website as its only a family connection, no business link to TLG. But what do I know lol.

    Be nice to have a new brick maker in town.
  • TLGTLG Member Posts: 125
    Istokg said:

    Since Modulex was a TLG product... I don't think any AFOLs will shun it. Now with the TLG connection (of sorts) re-establised, I wonder if they'll be able to sell on the official LEGO website... and also wonder about TLGs distribution network? I don't expect to ever seen Minitalia at TRU... but maybe at Barnes & Noble, etc...

    Minitalia?
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,325
    Hehehe... I'm working on merging Minitalia (Italy 1970-77) and OLO (Japan 1970-77) into a combined chapter in my LEGO collectors guide... so I have Minitalia on the brain... ;-)
  • cody6268cody6268 Member Posts: 298
    edited November 2014
    Sounds interesting. I'd likely buy a few, as long as they're cheap. There seems to be many parts that did not have a parallel Lego element.

    A couple years ago, I was browsing Modulex on Bricklink and found this Modulex firing gun.

    http://www.bricklink.com/catalogItem.asp?G=legogun2

    Why was it produced?
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,325
    edited November 2014
    Hehehe.... that gun was never intended for use with Modulex.

    I happen to know the originator of that image, a fellow in British Columbia who lived a Bohemian lifestyle out of the back of his VW Bus. His public name was WHOVIANART... and when you look at a Google search of images of him... there's also an image of that gun (which leads to a Brickshelf set of images)...

    https://www.google.com/search?q=Whovianart+LEGO&rlz=1C1CHFX_enUS601US601&es_sm=93&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=_CRYVPGnGMz4yQTz5ICwCA&ved=0CCsQsAQ&biw=1280&bih=923#imgdii=_

    This fellow made a lot of artwork out of Modulex, as well as LEGO (usually the Modulex was for wall art, LEGO was for furniture). And he had a LEGO gun, but no bullets, and found that Modulex parts were the right size for firing.

    But originally the LEGO guns of the 1950s had a box of bullets that came with the gun. Those bullets were long gone for this gun example! So someone must have seen the Brickshelf image, and added it (incorrectly) to Bricklink!
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,325
    edited November 2014
    Oppps... that was me that supplied that image to Bricklink... back before I found the gun with the real toy bullets included... so that gun needs to be removed! ;-)
    aldredd
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 20,298

    I can't see it being sold on the LEGO website as its only a family connection, no business link to TLG. But what do I know lol.

    Be nice to have a new brick maker in town.

    It look's like it is not happening now anyway. LEGO Juris (the bit that seems to hold all the copyrights and sues various companies, Gary can correct me on what the official role is) have bought it back.
  • DadsAFOLDadsAFOL USAMember Posts: 617
    Announcement on Facebook today (1/7/2015):
    "We are pleased to tell that LEGO Juris A/S has acquired Modulex bricks in a
    mutual agreement. It has been important for the LEGO Group owner family to ensure
    historic rights stay within the owner family. The potential to produce Modulex
    bricks has also been addressed and there are no plans to manufacture Modulex
    bricks in the near future.
    Thanks for your interest in Modulex and for joining this Facebook page!"


    This is a fascinating bit of family drama. Was Anders the black sheep? Did the family just pull him back in line? Or was this a scheme to transfer some of the family fortune to Anders? You could write your own plot line :)
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 20,298
    Especially as it was within the family. Or is he considered outside the "owner" family?

    At least it didn't end like Queen Victoria's grandchildren.
    Kevin_Hyatt
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,325
    OK... all very interesting.... maybe a family squabble? Or maybe they came to an understanding.... we'll likely never be privy to that info.

    Anders Kirk Johansen's mother Gunhild Kirk Johansen, is the sister of Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen. And she sold her share of the LEGO parent company (Kirkbi/AS) to her brother in 2007 for approximately $1 billion. Yes it's worth much more now, but there doesn't appear to be any sour grapes... at least not outwardly.

    But it appears that Kjeld & Co. must not have wanted Guhild's oldest of 3 children... Anders Kirk Johansen, to re-start up the production of the Modulex System. Why the change of heart on that? Don't know, and we likely will never know. Perhaps they were worried about new Modulex being too much competition to regular LEGO.

    But if Anders Kirk Johansen already owned the right to Modulex... then I would image that his uncle would have paid him a pretty penny to sell it back to parent Kirkbi/AS.
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,325
    edited January 2015
    I would tend to think that since 90 year old grandmother Edith Kirk Christiansen is still alive and surprisingly healthy (seen here at the groundlaying of The LEGO House)... that there likely was not a family feud...

    image

    I would think that family peace was maintained between Edith's children Kjeld and (mother of Anders) Gunhild.

    My gut feeling is that Gunhild's son Anders was very well compensated for giving up the Modulex building brand.

    A win for Kjeld.... a win for Anders... but very much a loss for the many in the LEGO community who were at least interested in getting some Modulex... :-1:
  • sklambsklamb speaker of American EnglishMember Posts: 512
    Isn't it possible Anders Kirk Johansen bought the Modulex rights to ensure they would at least stay "in the family" and prevent the brand from being manufactured again, and that he planned or hoped to sell them on to LEGO juris at a convenient time? There may have been reasons why the holding company didn't want to spend money acquiring Modulex at the time it was for sale, after all.

    Must say that, intriguing as Modulex sounds, it would certainly have cut into the market for interlocking bricks, especially as LEGO seems to be making more and more adult-oriented products (SERIOUS PLAY, for example).
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,325
    edited January 2015
    Also... now I have to add info to my Unofficial LEGO Sets/Parts Collectors Guide section on Modulex (Appendix B )... to add the already released prototype new Modulex parts.
    http://www.youblisher.com/p/734257-MODULEX-Architectural-System-Appendix-D/

    Although production had not started yet... some folks interested in the new Modulex parts were given some free samples.

    These modern day prototypes (some painted parts before specific colors were determined)... will surely be very collectible now that the Modulex resurrection is officially dead.

    And what exactly happened with the parts already produced and not released? They and all the molds went to TLG in Billund... either to archival storage... or worse... to the trash heap....
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,325
    From the Facebook page all the comments had been encouraging of a start-up of production. But then with today's announcement.... the word is that there is no plan to start up production in the near future.

    This is very sad indeed, since production of baseplates and parts had already started....





    So production was a lot farther along than most folks realize!

    There are several folks over on Bricklink that were involved with this from the very beginning, and know a lot more about the actual production and prototypes than I do, where this is also being discussed, with considerable disappointment.
    http://www.bricklink.com/messageThread.asp?ID=182358&nID=882040
  • caperberrycaperberry LondonMember Posts: 2,226
    Bugger.
  • sklambsklamb speaker of American EnglishMember Posts: 512
    Does sound like competition was intended at one point, and then snuffed out. Oh, well; that's big business for you....
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,325
    Well it's kind of sad.... I was going thru the Facebook page fore Modulex Bricks A/S (before it too gets erased) to retrieve all of the images for future historical reference about this period where true prototypes about the implementation of a resurrected Modulex were produced, as well as the images of what had been accomplished before the system was terminated.... all very sad.

    From the box designs and measurements....

    image

    To actual prototype boxes with contents....

    image


    This will all be documented and included in my next collectors guide updates, as the prototypes that ended a system...
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,325
    Ironically I had recently received some historic images from a very generous Danish gentleman who had some images from 1962 when the then new Modulex system was being designed. Here are a few of the results from the LEGO Design Department...

    image


    These very rare images are from the earliest development of the Modulex print media, from even before the final name "Modulex" was finalized. Here they are just referred to as "Modul". These images were rough designs, getting the final imagery and text ready later....

    image


    image


    image


    These are just some of the images that I am preparing for my next collectors guide (free to current owners).

    The chapter on Modulex will be twice its' current size... but not for the right reasons! :-(
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