Brick by brick
Why Chinese parents prefer Lego to Barbie
The Danish firm has outwitted its American rival in China
Budding engineers cluster around a table-sized model of the China Art Museum, a landmark of Shanghai, adding helipads, carrot patches and other improvements with colourful bricks. Prising a child from Lego’s vast shop near People’s Square can be like unsticking two stubborn bits of Lego. Li Yang, visiting for a few days from Shenzhen, has been waiting for her daughter for two hours. Zhu Yunfei, watching his son, marvels at the variety: “Coming here to play with him is making up for my childhood,” he says. They drop by every week.
Lego’s rise in China has been vertiginous. In 2017 it overtook Alpha Group, a local giant, to become the country’s leading toy company (not including video games). In the past two years it has opened 89 stores. It wants 50 more by December, which will bring it to 30 cities. Its first Chinese factory started moulding bricks in 2016. The toy industry is
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