"It's LEGO, not LEGOs," and other tidbits from LEGO fans

Last week's cover story on LEGO Universe, an ambitious online LEGO video game being developed by Louisville company NetDevil uncovered lots of intriguing tidbits about everybody's favorite plastic building blocks -- like how serious builders use obscure terms like SNOT (studs not on top) to describe their bricks, and how a slight color change in gray LEGO bricks a few years ago nearly set off a riot among hard-core fans.

But according to some of the letters coming in about the story, we didn't get the half of it. As Taras, one local reader, pointed out to us, LEGO building blocks used to be manufactured right here in Colorado by the Samsonite Corporation. "Now LEGO returns to a Colorado company to develop a video game," writes Taras. "Why not the actual LEGO sets?"

Turns out Taras is completely correct: In 1961 Samsonite, founded here in Denver and best known for its luggage lines, made an agreement with the Denmark-based toy company to manufacture and market the new building blocks under the name "LEGO System by Samsonite." Four years later, Samsonite opened a 50,000 square-foot facility in Loveland devoted to manufacturing LEGO bricks, which were slightly different than the bricks being sold in Europe. While Samsonite had a 99-year license for exclusive North American distribution rights, a licensing dispute ended the arrangement in the United States in 1972.

Those nostalgic for this bygone era of local toy-industry dominance should check out odes to Samsonite's LEGO partnership here, here and here. They include nifty visuals like a LEGO model of the Loveland factory, seen to the left, and an early LEGO System by Samsonite brochure, seen above, that offers very useful directions on how to put LEGO bricks together. We always wondered how you did that.

Not only did we miss Colorado's long-gone LEGO connection, but we also apparently pulled a major LEGO faux pas: We pluralized LEGO with an "s."

Bad move, noted Mike in a response to the story: "Although it seems easier and more common to use, the correct reference is 'LEGO.'"

He even included an online image, seen to the right, that used to pop up when foolhardy folks tried to go to www.legos.com. (These days, the redirect screen at legos.com isn't so preachy.)

The whole LEGO/LEGOs thing may seem a bit persnickety. But as commenters note on this blog post about the issue, it's just a measured European reaction to America's lazy, selfish and annoying habit of sticking an "s" on the end of everything, including established brands. (We also screw up the spelling of colour.)

So there you have it. We here at Westword regret our lexicographic imperialism. We promise to henceforth always correctly spell LEGOs... oh, sorry.

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