How Lego Built the Coolest Company in the World

And yet right here before my eyes was visible proof that Kenney wasn’t some sort of Pee-wee Herman: this gargantuan rubber ducky, retailing for a staggering $39,000. “I compare it to getting your car fixed,” Kenney said. “It’s never the parts that cost that much, it’s the labor.”

What Kenney was so good at describing, besides this world he’d created for himself, the one in which he spends every hour of the workday behind the door of his studio assembling huge Lego models (eight-foot hummingbirds and life-size polar bears, or making little Lego lamps with the help of eleven hired assistants), what so few can put into words when it comes to the iconic building toy, is the strange thing that happens with the accrual of rectangular bricks (yellow rubber duckies! eight-foot hummingbirds!) and how evidence of these strange things can be found everywhere in plain sight when you begin to really pay attention.

“I think a lot of us makers are just trying to do something that’s never been seen before,” Kenney said. “Sometimes we’re doing it just for each other, to inspire each other. It’s like a conversation. How far can you push it? Can you surprise even yourself?”

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LANDON NORDEMAN

I knew something about surprise, for in pursuing this story, I’d already bumped into a six-foot simulacrum of Mark Twain made out of Lego bricks in Hartford, Connecticut, and a life-size Queen Elizabeth II (in snowy palette) and Prince William (in regal red and royal blue) built from the same in London.

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