Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Inside the LEGO Vault

I am a sucker for hidden doors because they represent infinite possibilities. Thus, it should no surprise that the LEGO vault, which contains a majority of the sets that the company has made over the past five decades, should be accessed via a secret doorway. LEGO is a company that prides itself on creating a product with endless possibilities, as I heard repeatedly during my visit to Denmark last week.

A panel in the Idea House exhibit (the museum set in the former home of LEGO founder Ole Kirk Christiansen) swings open to reveal a set of stairs. That in and of itself would be cool; but a dozen or so steps down is a temperature-controlled room with a series of white shelves. Those shelves are stacked chronologically with a product catalogue that is a visual history of the plastic brick producer. Ostensibly maintained for legal reasons, this is a rich treasure trove that shows the evolution of the toy maker. Each shelf has a black hand crank that can be wound to allow it to slide open. There is a brief hesitation before the shelves are set in motion, a slight hiccup that increases the dramatic moment when the LEGO collection is revealed.

The video above shows some of the early sets from 1959 and 1960 and pans down the row, which includes kits from the next decade or so. The audio discussion is concerning some of the original sales techniques tried by LEGO, where bricks were actually sold by the piece at barber shops or corner drugstores (perhaps, the early precursor to today's Pick A Brick in LEGO retail stores?). The shaky camera work is completely intentional. I expect this vault video to rank somewhere historically between Geraldo Rivera's uncovering of Al Capone's vault and Kerri Strug's successful fault on one wonky foot in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

1 comment:

andy said...

I stumbled across your book just as I started to emerge out of my "dark ages". Now, I have hundreds of lego bricks in my apartment and I have a Lego Dunkin Donuts, Dominos, police station, houses, and more planned! I'm going to my first convention, BrickCon, this month for my yearly trip. I've never been to Seattle either. I absolutely can't wait. Thanks so much for your awesome book. It was great! Hope to see you at BrickCon?

Andy in Charlotte, NC