Building a ‘LEGO’cy

A LEGO minifigure from the 2001 Star Wars Final Duel II Lego set. The figure is dressed as an Imperial Officer.
A LEGO minifigure from the 2001 Star Wars Final Duel II Lego set. The figure is dressed as an Imperial Officer. Graphic by Chris Klepach.

LEGO has been an important part of a lot of children’s lives. It has provided an outlet for many to express their creativity and have fun with their imagination. A unique part of LEGO are the minifigures, also known as the little people in Lego sets with C-shaped hands, movable arms and legs and that iconic smile consisting of two black dots and a curve. 

Its design was genius, having yellow skin and a simple unisex expression that was mute of all gender or racial influences, being built in a way that hats and hair pieces can fit snug on the head and hands can hold accessories securely while maintaining a playful aesthetic. 

Lego Minifig
LEGO mini figure. Graphic by Chris Klepach.

Anyone who has seen or heard of LEGO can recognize that design from a mile away. With the successes of “The LEGO Movie” franchise, having two spin-offs and a sequel, it is difficult to see past how large of a company it is and how ingrained in our culture it has become. Some of us may have owned LEGO sets, one of numerous video games, or used it for more serious creative or technological endeavors utilizing LEGO’s robotics line of products.  

It is with a heavy heart to say that the man who designed this iconic toy, Jens Nygaard Knudsen, of Denmark, recently died from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) on Feb. 19. He was 78 years old. The news was tweeted on Feb. 24, by the official Lego Group Twitter account. “We’re very sad to hear that Jens Nygaard Knudsen, the creator of the LEGO minifigure, has passed away. Thank you Jens, for your ideas, imagination, and inspiring generations of builders.” 

Sam Ashmore Betzer, apparel merchandising, said, “As a kid I didn’t play much with LEGOS but I used to create all sorts of stuff with my dad when we did have LEGOS.”  

LEGO can mean a lot to different people. It can bring back an innocent nostalgia we all had as children before we paid bills. It can remind others of the latest products or media that involve Lego. It can even shine a light on how a few plastics bricks and characters can bond family members together.  

Rest in peace, Knudsen. Or pieces. I think he would’ve appreciated the pun.  

Image courtesy of Chris Klepach | Kirkwood Communiqué

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