It’s currently the biggest selling toy maker in the world, but the Danish company Lego was not even close to being the first to manufacture interlocking miniature bricks. A new YouTube video from Jangbricks called “Bricks Before Lego” details the many, many Lego predecessors from both England and America that hit the market before Lego debuted its iconic building blocks in 1949. It’s a legacy that actually stretches as far back as 1934, when an American manufacturer called the Rubber Specialties Company introduced its Bild-O-Brik line. Those innovative little rectangles inspired the Mini Brix line from England’s Premo Rubber Company in 1935. There followed a whole slew of proto-Legos, usually made from plasic but occasionally made from rubber or even wood. History has largely forgotten Kiddicraft’s Self Locking Building Bricks from 1947 and Halsam Product’s American Bricks from 1939. But the internet never forgets.
What should be pointed out here is that “Bricks Before Lego” is hardly an expose or an attack piece. Jangbricks is a Lego loyalist whose channel is dominated by product reviews and elaborate, impossibly ornate builds. The narrator says that Lego openly acknowledges at least some of its numerous forefathers, so it’s not really an example of outright theft. Instead, in a manner eminently befitting its own product line, Lego cleverly and diligently built upon the work of other, earlier toy companies until it had constructed something truly magnificent. As Jangbricks puts it:
Of significance is the fact that Lego was quite late to the party and started out cloning someone else’s patented design. Thankfully, they grew past that phase, began to innovate, and, through a lot of hard work, earned their way up to the position of top selling toy company in the world.
And the legacy of “borrowing” hardly ends with Lego. In fact, the “Bricks” video begins with modern day toys from Hasbro and Ritvik that are clearly little more the Lego wannabes.