LEGO bricks are one of the world’s most popular toys, part of a class of postwar playthings that addressed middle-class ideals of childhood creativity and educative play. As the company adapted to a globalized consumer culture in the second half of the twentieth century, however, it also relied on longstanding tropes of gender, history, and cultural others that put pressure on its claims as a provider of wholesome, “universal” play. This article unpacks how LEGO’s product designs, marketing, and theme park operations have commodified historical inequities, giving tangible form to stereotypes of a racially unmarked European past, colonial encounters with the “uncivilized,” and the gendering of domestic space and construction play.

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