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Rare Glimpse Into the Billund Lego Factory

DadsAFOLDadsAFOL USAMember Posts: 616
Recently, Lego CEE invited the LUG ambassadors to attend the media day where Lego presented its annual financial performance.  This was a little bit of a short notice, and attendees had to pay for their own travel, so only a couple of people were able to make the trip.  One was Michael Bradford, ambassador for DFWLUG (Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas).

Michael shared details of the trip in the ambassador forum, and I'll let him share more of the story here if he chooses, but he got to meet and talk to some well-known Lego folks.  One of the day's events was a tour of the factory.  For those of you lucky enough to have gone on the Lego Inside Tour, you will know that usually photos are strictly prohibited.  However, since this was a media day, Lego tidied up all the secret stuff and allowed cameras along.

Michael put together a video about 6 1/2 minutes long and posted it on YouTube.  Enjoy!

http://youtu.be/xvboxkAi35Q
Lego_StarLegoKipSirBen

Comments

  • bobabricksbobabricks Vancouver, BC, CanadaMember Posts: 1,839
    I was expecting this to be a glimpse into the Billund factory in the 50's... by @Istokg ;)
  • mrbradfordmrbradford Fort Worth, Texas, USAMember Posts: 45
    Thanks for posting this Jason. My report of my fantastic experience should be up on the CEE blog at https://lan.lego.com/blogs/1-newsroom within the week. I have more video coming as well of the Idea House that I hope to have up within the week.
    klatu003Lego_StarLegoKipSirBen
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,442
    I read your report and thought it was excellent. You were very lucky to be able to take photos and videos. Definitely worth the trip from the US, I'd have thought!
    mrbradford
  • EluneElune QuébecMember Posts: 99
    Wow! I'm always impressed by the technology used in factories. Somehow, they have a "Wall-E" or "Coruscant" atmosphere to them. Thanks for sharing!
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,099
    I was expecting this to be a glimpse into the Billund factory in the 50's... by @Istokg ;)
    Hehehe... funny you should bring that up... earlier this week Michael and I traded Emails and images, and Michael was generous enough to share with me some images of rare items that he and I both were unfamiliar with, and when I get back home this evening I'll talk a little bit about it.  But what they show you is never as good as what they don't show you! .... that's true!!!   :p  

    I'll talk about that a little more later... but I will say this much... I won't ever complain that LEGO is a knock-off of Kiddicraft... besides the 2x2 and 2x4 brick... TLG invented everything else themselves.... but lots of other companies were trying to copycat them.... even in the 1950s....   :o
    bobabricksAndor
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,099
    edited March 2015
    An image that Michael sent me was from a locked and inaccessible room in the LEGO Idea House..... (thank goodness for windows!!)



    I had read before that LEGO claimed that other companies were copying their box designs, as well as part designs.  Well I knew that the part designs were copied by many companies in Europe, just as LEGO was copied off of Kiddicraft (well 6 parts at least)... but I had never seen examples of copying box designs.

    But this tells another story.  In my Unofficial LEGO Sets/Parts Collectors Guide there is a chapter on LEGO clones, and I'm adding these blatant ones to my list.

    The canister set on the left looks a lot like the 1957-6 Swiss LEGO Canister Basic Sets....




    The TEKTON Set next to it is not only a blatant example of copying a LEGO box top, but it also uses the image of 2 out of 3 of Godtfred Kirk Chrstiansen's children... Hanne and Kjeld.  I guess his 3rd child Gunhild in the middle was removed from their image, thus making it look different... but the LEGO buildings were the same... This is the 1957-60 image on most LEGO basic sets...




    And the "SEGO" set image to the right of that blue box uses an image found on the front of early 1960s LEGO catalogs....




    And the image of the set on the right goes so far as to call itself "LEGO"... which I believe shows this to be a set from communist Eastern Europe in the 1960s, where copyright infringement was lax.  The couple on the box look uncannily like Mad Magazine's Alfred E. Newman, and his sister.  And this crude design generally uses the LEGO basic set image on boxes from 1960-65.




    Very blatant copying of LEGO designs!!  I'll have to add these to my Collectors Guide chapter on LEGO Clones.   Interesting indeed.   Thanks Michael!!

    Now I'll have to look at other images on the tour!!    :)

    LegoboybobabricksAanchir
  • VorpalRyuVorpalRyu AustraliaMember Posts: 2,248
    The bit I would have liked to see is how they box up sets.
    xiahna
  • andheandhe UKMember Posts: 2,760
    Guess they hid the Oompa Loompas from view.

    The amount of precision and automation involved is phenomenal. Makes you realise that the 'price per piece' that we always hark on about isn't so bad, when you see all the processing involved.

    Did find it amusing when the tiny piece of lego drops off the end of the conveyor out of the massive machine though.
  • HokieJoe99HokieJoe99 Member Posts: 348
    Now I want a hightower warehouse robot to help with storing my collection. 
    andhe
  • mrbradfordmrbradford Fort Worth, Texas, USAMember Posts: 45
    Thanks for the info Gary! Just to clarify, I didn't mean to imply it was a locked room; it just wasn't part of the tour - meaning the guide skipped over the room. There wasn't a door or window for that room, it was just skipped over. I just uploaded my video tour of the Idea House and that room can be seen very quickly around the 0:52 mark.
  • Gooker1Gooker1 Member Posts: 590
    ^^Are you trying to get people to throw up on their keyboards?   :)  The first minute was nauseating. lol.
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,099
    edited March 2015
    Thanks for the history lesson Michael!!

    I was looking thru some of your images, and a few caught my eye.... here's one that included the Ferguson Tractor.  The tractor box was on the far side of this image... the open box was a Ferguson Tractor Retailer Box with individual spare parts to sell to customers (this retailer box came in red and gray parts).  Those VW Beetles were originally made for Volkswagen Company of Germany as models for dealer showroom displays of the 8 colors that were available for sale.  These large VW Beetles were also sold individually in toy stores.  The other trucks and wagons were LEGO 1:43 scale Chevrolet Trucks sold from 1952-57.  Ironically all of these items were only sold in Denmark, Norway, and to a lesser degree in Iceland, but not Sweden.




    Those 1:43 scale Chevrolet Trucks came in over 100 different models and styles, from Esso, to Shell, to British Petroleum.  Here's a 1956 Norwegian catalog showing many that were available....



    A year ago I wrote a 70 page collectors guide on 110 different 1:43 scale Chevrolet Trucks and Wagons, which I'm giving away as a freebie with my regular (LEGO System) Collectors Guide.

    All of these Chevrolet trucks (as well as the Ferguson Tractors and VW Beetles) are very highly sought after by LEGO collectors, because they had such a limited sales area.  Here are a pair of 1:43 Chevrolet extended trucks from Iceland, extremely rare.




    Here is a very rare... 20,000th produced Ferguson Tractor, finished in gold...






    And here is a hodgepodge of boxes with different LEGO logos used on all these trucks in the 1950s...



    Niels_T
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,099
    edited March 2015
    I've watched the video several times, always finding something interesting.  One thing that I see is some of the truly rare LEGO sets that TLG had to buy on the secondary market.

    Unfortunately the folks at the HQ in Billund didn't have the foresight in the 1930s to 1960s to keep a copy of every product that they produced.  But they have been scouring the secondary markets just as old time collectors have.  Who knows, the person with deep pockets who may be bidding against you for a rare set could be TLG themselves.

    Here is a Billund Archive image of one of the sets that they had to buy on the secondary market (this box is seen in the video).... the 1955-56 1300 Mosaik (Danish spelling) Set.  This set was very unpopular due to the lack of contents for making mosaics onto 10x20 thick baseplates with small 1x1 bricks (round and square) and the early 1/2 circle macaroni bricks.  So very few of these sets appear to have survived.  Only 3 are known (a 3rd one recently was purchased by a lucky Bricklink seller, who contacted me to bring the set back to its' original contents).  These would probably fetch $5000 on the secondary market...






    Lego_Star
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