Remember when LEGO was just LEGO? Believe it or not, once upon a time it amounted to a bunch of plastic bricks of various shapes in primary colours spread all over your bedroom floor waiting for your next attempt at a spaceship or a windmill. Or, more likely, a really tall tower that would teeter ominously until the cat brushed past and knocked it over. And were it not for LEGO’s vaulting ambition, that’s the way it would have stayed; we’d now be buying it purely as a nostalgia buzz alongside all those other retro toys that sell very nicely this time of year (although Stylophones seem to have taken a commercial nose-dive of late). But the LEGO Group of Denmark (motto: ‘only the best is the best’) were having none of that. They were looking to the future, and the future was 4cm (or just over four bricks) tall with a barrel-shaped head.
The winding road that leads from your mum screaming down the stairs that her hoover’s just been knackered (again) by your unloved LEGO bricks to the guaranteed cast iron box office behemoth that is The LEGO Batman movie can be traced back to the day in 1978 when a tiny addition to the LEGO product range was released with very little fanfare: mini figures. But this was no plastic trifle; by adding little people to the mix, be it construction workers, crane drivers, pirates or astronauts, the possibilities of narrative play were massively expanded. Suddenly, kids were actual