Before Legos, We Kicked It Old School With American Bricks

Before Legos, We Kicked It Old School With American Bricks

Elgo Plastics made American Plastic Bricks. They are associated with the 1950s, but you could still find them under the Christmas tree in the 1960s. They seemed so much more serious than the Legos that would eventually chase them from the field. Serious is somehow more fun, I think.
The Construction Toy Homepage has scanned a booklet that came along with the cardboard tube with the metal lid filled with red, white, and clear plastic interlocking parts, but I could have saved them the trouble and drawn it from memory for them.
Ah, the very first casement windows I ever saw were on my little plastic houses, along with the very exotic mediterranean style garage door and the faux jalousie windows. In case you wanted to make a house for Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow to live in.

10 thoughts on “Before Legos, We Kicked It Old School With American Bricks

  1. Lego was first, I’m afraid. The company was started in the ’30s. It’s the American bricks which were the rip off. Heck, I wonder how far a Danish company would get these days if they opened a fast food chain called FKC. I’m a British yankophile married to a Dane, so my bias is evenly distributed in this one!
    Cheers!

  2. Hi anonymous. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    You couldn’t buy Legos in the US until the late fifties. It was the late sixties or early seventies before I’d even seen one. They were sort of “rich people’s” toys when they did show up, like many European things of that nature.

    Lego was started in the thirties, but they made wooden toys then. The modern peg and socket version of block we associate with Lego is from 1959. The made a plastic version of a loose fitting wooden block before then.

    Many of my wife’s extended family have worked for Lego for a long time.

  3. Dang, I’m older than I thought I was… I had these things… they had one small problem that lego didn’t… the “female” connection on the bottomes, would often break off and then the bricks wouldn’t stick together…

  4. And I’m older than the author of the last entry! Half of my APB’s are an even older version. They were a slightly darker red and somewhat brittle and breakable. The female fittings did not have the slot through the middle and were not intended to stick together by friction….your entire creation was held together by gravity. They were a wonderful toy but I think we had even more fun with the later stick together version. And yes, when Lego’s were introduced they did seem very exotic and expensive as I remember.

  5. I LOVED playing with American Plastic Bricks 40-50 years ago. I had the original version, as opposed to the stick-together kind. Legos are so lame in comparison to any version of APB, even though APB did chip very easily. Do you happen to know the legal status of APB? If I can get the capital I’d love to bring them back on the market!

  6. Lego may be an older company, but they didn’t enter the American market until much later. In fact, because of the similarity of their name with the Chicago based Elgo company, when Lego decided to enter the American market they paid Elgo $25,000 to avoid any legal trouble.

    I believe that in the ’40s the bricks were made from wood!

    My sets were from the early ’50s with just gravity to hold them together. Making structures that were self supporting was a good learning experience and taught basic engineering principles.

  7. But the older “loose connect” kind were fun to knock down with a big plasticy crash! We have an old drum of the ‘older ones’ & expanded the collection (loss & breakage for years shrinks the pile- yay for ebay) Now we have the snap together kind for longer openings. 🙂

  8. Yes, in the ’40s they were wood. I had my first ones in about 1946 or 1947. Loved them and always wanted more so I could build bigger houses.

  9. American Bricks beat Legos hands down in the windows department: real panes of plastic, moving parts, and many different sorts to choose from.

  10. I have an Large Collection of American Plastic Bricks, I used to play with them when I was in Elementary School, but as an Adult, I’m reliving my childhood.

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