The bricks fly in Czech toyland

KLADNO, Czech Republic, Dec 20, 2006 (AFP) – At a new factory here, real people are now putting together giant characters out of Lego building bricks for a world of make-believe. But they are also building a strategy in one of the toughest games in big business: toymaking The characters are being assembled for Legoland theme parks that will be visited by children in the months to come when Christmas will be just a memory.

Workers at the factory had wrapped up their Christmas tasks back in September, concentrating on creating miniature model figures for display at the principal toyland battleground: the end-of-aisle shelf space in stores around the world.

The factory at Kladno is part of a response by Lego to the strategic challenges of keeping an old toy brand alive in a children’s world now dominated by television characters, video games and electronic gadgets and a business world under pressure from products made in China.

Lego, the world’s sixth-biggest toy firm, responded by opening activities here in 2000 and is now piecing together its own recovery after having been badly burnt by adventures into video games.

The company has adopted what might be termed hybrid outsourcing, sub-contracting some activities at a plant while retaining control of others at