Back in 1932, Ole Kirk Kristiansen started the LEGO Group as a wooden toy manufacturer in Billund, Denmark — and since then it’s been a family business, passed down from generation to generation. LEGO, an abbreviation of the Danish words “leg” and “godt” that translates to “play well,” boasts an unmistakable identity thanks to its plastic bricks, which were first produced in 1949.
Today, LEGO’s product offerings tap into more markets than ever before — offering everything from DUPLO sets for young children to massive recreations of monuments designed for AFOL (adult fans of LEGO). With the world of LEGO more popular than ever, we’ve dug up some fun facts about the brand that you may not know.
LEGO is the World’s Largest Tire Manufacturer
If you were prompted to guess the world’s largest tire manufacturer, you might suggest Bridgestone or Michelin, but the correct response would be LEGO. Coming out on top based on sheer quantity, it’s important to note that these tires are much smaller and less detailed. These pieces are used in everything from its car-focused Speed Champions line to general themes such as the City line. Guinness World Records gave LEGO the title in 2011, noting that the company created a total of 381 million tires in 2010 alone.
Every LEGO Minifigure Had the Exact Same Head Shape for 21 Years
Nowadays, many minifigures are packed with incredible detailing. Whether it be dual-molded legs, arm printing, or a cloth accessory, LEGO has raised the bar significantly in recent years. However, it wasn’t until 1999 — 21 years after the first minifigure was created — that LEGO introduced sculpted head pieces for its minifigures. Prior to then, every LEGO figure had the exact same head shape, limiting what characters it could accurately depict. While many fans have detested Jar Jar Binks since he first appeared in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, LEGO lovers can thank him for prompting the heightened level of design that is enjoyed today.
Some LEGO Sets Are Tested in a Sauna
Regardless of whether a brick is molded in Denmark or Mexico, LEGO requires all of its pieces to meet the same quality standards. Beyond the brand’s rigorous testing on its individual pieces, assembled sets are also subject to extensive testing. Structural integrity is a natural point for any set to be evaluated, however, LEGO goes so far as to use ovens to determine a product’s resistance to sunlight. When it came time to perform this test on the 5,195-piece Millennium Falcon from the Ultimate Collector Series in 2007, LEGO had to place the build in a sauna, as the 25-inch-long behemoth couldn’t fit in their ovens. LEGO has produced many sizable sets since then, so it’s not unrealistic to think that they’ve upgraded the size of their ovens to match.
The Most Common Character Found in Sets is Batman
With nearly 20,000 LEGO sets released to date and over 15,000 unique minifigures in existence, there’s one character that stands out from the rest when it comes to quantity of releases — Batman. Appearing in 145 sets and 87 different variants to date, Batman holds the record for both values. What’s a Batman set without the Dark Knight himself, anyways?
Authentic Solid Gold LEGO Figures Exist
Over the years, LEGO has celebrated special events, movies, and more with ultra-rare minifigures. From crafting special movie props to sending custom figures to orbit around the planet Jupiter, there’s a story behind every LEGO minifigure. One that has captivated collectors for over a decade is a 14-karat gold C-3PO figure. Crafted in celebration of Star Wars’ 30th anniversary, this incredible minifigure was given away in 2007 with only five in existence. Since then, several have been sold with number 4 of 5 currently listed at a whopping $200k USD on eBay.