Lego License

Believe it or not, the first official Lego license was only 25 years ago. Further, the partnership remains one of the most popular and profitable present day. An impressive feat considering the general decline in overall toy sales.  This article tells the story behind this successful empire… 

Over Two Decades Ago in a Galaxy (Not So Far) Away… 

Most of you probably picked up by the not-so-subtle hints that Lego’s first license deal was with Star Wars. 

 In 1999, the megabrands struck the deal alongside the release of the film, “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace.”

For this, Lego had to custom mold a “nonstandard” headpiece for the character, Jar Jar Binks, Minifigure. This was the first-ever diversion from the traditional square-shaped head the company is known for. 

From a current perspective, it is a no-brainer that the collaboration was a massive success. But it was NOT such a sure thing at the time…

In 1999, the Lego Star Wars License was “Their Only Hope”

It was a dark time for Lego in the late 90s. High amounts of debt and strong competition — the company was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. 

However, the corporation took a leap of faith and committed to the intellectual property. 

36-year Lego veteran, Jill Wilfert, spoke to CNBC about the Star Wars license journey…. 

“We were creating themes, but we weren’t always necessarily connecting those with the deeper story. And I think for us really seeing that unlock, and how it really allowed people to open up their imaginations in a different way and express their creativity in a different way, is I think what Star Wars did for us.”

Since that powerful partnership, the Star Wars category of toys has maintained momentum within the Lego brand. 

Notably, Lego sales were up 2% in 2023 while other toy companies saw losses.  And when you have an idea this good, there are definitely going to be sequels… 

The Lego Licenses Will Keep Coming — And in Greater Numbers

Since Star Wars saved Lego from the Dark Side, it has not only expanded the SW license but added others. 

A-list examples include Batman, Marvel, and Harry Potter. All of which have been bestsellers in their own right… 

That being said, Star Wars has remained tried and true over the years. Lego has even brought the license to animated content and video games. 

At the end of the day, Lego will continue to win with this formula for licenses as long as they give the fans what they want. 

And, that’s no Jedi mind trick. 

Be Great,

GCTV Staff

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