Happy 50th Birthday to the LEGO DUPLO Brick!

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If you, like me, thought you were older than LEGO’s DUPLO bricks, think again. You may be wrong. My 45 years aren’t enough to make me older than this beloved line of LEGO bricks designed for the youngest fans. Just last month, on January 29, the LEGO DUPLO brick turned 50. It’s old enough to join AARP!

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DUPLO bricks are twice as large as conventional LEGO bricks (the name comes from the Latin word “duplex” which means “double”) and can also be used in conjunction with the smaller bricks, perfect for when your kids get older. DUPLO bricks are designed for kids as young as 18 months.

Original logo from 1978 plus some of the prototype logos.

If you’ve got little ones in your house, DUPLO bricks are a fun way for little kids to stack, build, and learn to manipulate objects. The bricks also help them learn to sort, match, and count. By playing with toys such as DUPLO bricks, small children develop their fine motor skills, language skills (with storytelling and roleplay), collaboration skills, and confidence. Maybe they see you build your more ambitious Saturn V rocket and want to get in on the action, but you know that their “help” will be anything but. DUPLO to the rescue!

Over the past 50 years, DUPLO has gone from a basic building brick set to offering themed products, such as farm, police, fire, and zoo. The lines include characters as well, in the form of DUPLO’s own style of not-so-mini figures, such as police officers, doctors, cowboys, scientists, and parents. There are also Disney characters, DC and Marvel superheroes, and more. Through these sets, DUPLO helps the youngest LEGO fans tell their own stories. And, the LEGO folks make sure that their products can “withstand being bitten, dribbled on, thrown across the room in a tantrum or stepped on by determined young explorers” (a direct quote from their press release).

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Moving forward into the next 50 years, LEGO has really been expanding their DUPLO offerings, from the aforementioned superhero and Disney characters to steam and cargo trains. While they do still carry some open-ended DUPLO sets for those who like to make up their own builds, LEGO has quite a large number of themed DUPLO playsets, from Disney, DC, and Marvel to their line of Town sets (Airport, Farm, Police, Animals, Farmer’s Market, Fair, etc.), and even a set from LEGO The Movie 2, called “LEGO The Movie 2 Emmet and Lucy’s Visitors from The Duplo Planet.”

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Though apparently, they were around when I was little, I never had the joy of playing with DUPLO. We jumped right into the regular-sized LEGO bricks when my sister and I were old enough. But my kids had DUPLO, and I think they’re a fantastic entry into the world of LEGO. I highly recommend them.

Happy Birthday, DUPLO!

Here’s a timeline of their evolution over the past half-century (go to the LEGO website for a larger version).

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