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The current logo for Duplo bricks
|Other names||Lego Preschool
Police & Fire
Bob the Builder (2001–2003, 2005–2007, 2009)
Thomas & Friends (2005–2010)
|Availability||1969–1977, 1979–2002, 2004–present|
Duplo (trademarked as DUPLO) is a product range of the construction toy Lego, designed for children aged 1½ to 5 years old. Duplo bricks are twice the length, height and width of traditional Lego bricks, making them easier to handle and less likely to be swallowed by younger children. Despite their size, they are still compatible with traditional Lego bricks. Initially launched in 1969, the Duplo range has gone on to include sets with figures, cars, houses and trains.
Duplo bricks were introduced in 1969, in four colors: red, yellow, blue, and white. The following year, two more sets were added with blue and red wheel plates. In the product catalog for 1971, the sets were described as being for children from 1 to 2 years, but were still sold mixed with Lego bricks, normally designed for ages 3 to 12. In 1972, the Duplo brick with two rows of two studs was introduced.
In 1975, Duplo became its own product brand, with five sets made up exclusively of Duplo bricks. New additions included a round-topped two-by-two stud brick and a small four-wheeled wagon with two rows of six studs. With these new Duplo sets, Lego began targeting children 1½ years old with the intention that when the children became older, their Duplo bricks could be used together with regular Lego bricks.
In 1977, the Duplo name was dropped in favor of Lego Preschool. Small figures the size of two-by-two bricks were introduced, made up of a cylindrical head and a tapered, limbless body, similar in design to Fisher-Price's Little People. Another new brick was a half arch. The new sets included figures, doors, and two-by-six brick wagons that could act as a car or train.
The name Duplo was brought back in 1979, along with a new reworked logo. Some brick sets were sold inside a plush version of the rabbit from the logo, that zipped closed.
In 1983, other Duplo figures appeared, often called Duplo people. These figures have a moveable head, arms, and legs and look like large Lego minifigures, but cannot be taken apart, making them safer for small children. Also in 1983, set number 2700 was introduced with a model of a steam engine with two train cars. In 1986, a Duplo doll house with sliding doors was introduced. This included a Duplo people mother, father, and smaller child.
In 1992, Duplo Toolo was introduced. These used internal screws to stay together.
1993 brought a grey rail train system with a stop and start track. Later, two more train systems arrived. In 2005, Lego started selling Duplo trains themed as Thomas the Tank Engine.
The name Duplo was dropped again in favor of Explore in 2002. In the 2004 spring catalog, there was a reminder that Duplo was now called Explore, but that fall the well-known Duplo name was back yet again with a new rabbit logo designed to match the new elephant logo for the Lego Quatro range.
Lego have made Duplo sets licensed with Bob the Builder and Thomas & Friends characters. Those Duplo ranges have been discontinued, but Duplo sets now include farm, zoo, town, castle, and pirate lines. A doll house and princess castle are available as of 2008. Some Duplo sets have cars, trucks, and buildings which cannot be disassembled. Some DUPLO sets do not include building manuals.
In other media
The DUPLO product line makes an appearance in the final moments of The Lego Movie, in which alien invaders, built from DUPLO blocks, threaten the Lego universe following Lord Business' defeat. They will be key antagonists in the sequel, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part.
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