Ole Kirk Christiansen, the founder of The LEGO Group and inventor of one of the world’s most popular toys in the LEGO brick, has been named as the toy inventors’ inventor in a survey of budding British toy designers.
Christiansen (April 7th 1891 – March 11th 1958) founded The LEGO Group in 1949 and as of 2013, 560 billion LEGO pieces had been produced, 60bn of those in 2014 alone.
In February 2015, LEGO replaced Ferrari as the world’s most powerful brand and in ToyNews’ own survey of the industry’s greatest toys of all time back in January, LEGO came out on top.
Christiansen came up with the name LEGO from the Danish words leg godt, meaning ‘play well’.
British toy inventors featured twice in the top ten with Frank Hornby taking second place and Jenga creator Leslie Scott in at six.
The toy inventors’ top ten inventors are as follows:
- Ole Kirk Christiansen – Danish designer of LEGO and founder of The LEGO Group.
- Frank Hornby – British inventor of Meccano, Hornby Model Railways and Dinky Toys – three of the most popular lines of engineering-based toys in the 20th century.
- Erno Rubik – inventor of the world famous Rubik’s cube in 1974. By 2009, more than 350 million cubes had been sold globally.
- Richard James – James invented the Slinky in 1943. His first inventory of 400 sold within 90 minutes and 300 million had sold by 2005.
- Ruth Handler – Handler, former president of Mattel, invented Barbie after watching her daughter Barbara struggle to dress and play with her paper dolls. It was launched in 1959.
- Leslie Scott – British designer of over forty board games including the globally popular Jenga, which she launched at the London Toy Fair 1983 and has since sold more than 50 million products. The name jenga is derived from a Swahili word meaning ‘to build’.
- Eddy Goldfarb – The American creator of the yakity-yak talking teeth, which have sold tens of millions since their debut in 1949, plus close to 800 popular toys and games including Ker-Plunk.
- Walter Frederick Morrison – Fred Morrison discovered a market for the frisbee in 1938 when he and future wife, Lucile, were offered 25 cents for a cake pan that they were tossing back and forth on a Californian beach.
- Wim Ouboter – Inventor of the ubiquitous Micro Scooter, which he designed because his favourite sausage shop in Zurich was too far away to walk, yet not far away enough to take the car out of the garage.
- Reiner Knizia – British-based Knizia has been a full-time game designer since 1997, when he quit his job from the board of a large international bank. He has designed over 500 published games since, including the best selling Lord of the Rings, which has been published in 17 languages and sold over one million copies.
The survey of 2,000 inventors was carried out by The Inventors Workshop, which takes place on September 22nd in Northamptonshire and provides both fledgling and experienced inventors with a unique opportunity to meet and pitch to industry experts who can help them take their ideas from sketch to store.
Jenga inventor Leslie Scott will be speaking at this year’s event on the How We Made it Panel alongside Samuel Thomas Johnson, a senior toy designer with The LEGO Group.
“This is a brilliant list, and the fact two UK inventors cracked it highlights the UK as the hotbed of inventor talent that we know it is," said Billy Langsworthy, Inventors Workshop conference director.
"We’re hoping to continue to keep tabs on the current breed of toy and game inventors with this year’s Inventors Workshop and, who knows, when we come to do this poll again in the future, some of this year’s delegates might have cracked the list.”
Tickets to the Inventors Workshop are on sale now for just £99. This early bird rate is applicable until August 7th and can be accessed here http://www.inventorsworkshopevent.com/buy-tickets/.