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Man who invented Lego people, Jens Nygaard Knudsen, dies aged 78

Man who invented Lego's yellow men and women dies

The figurines were invented in the 1970s and were first released in 1978 (Picture: Getty)

Jens Nygaard Knudsen, who designed the iconic Lego minifigure with interchangeable legs and torsos, has died while in hospice care from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), his former colleague said Saturday.

The former designer, 78, died on Wednesday at a hospice centre where he had stayed for a week, according to Lego designer Niels Milan Pedersen, a former colleague of Nygaard Knudsen.

Milan Pedersen said: ‘His imagination was so fantastic. If we had a brainstorm it was more like a brain hurricane, because he had so many ideas.’

Nygaard Knudsen, who died at the Anker Fjord Hospice outside the small town of Hvide Sande on the Danish west coast, was a designer at the Danish toy brick maker from 1968 to 2000. He worked with developing the now legendary minifigure with movable arms and legs in the 1970s, before it was first released in 1978.

Lego minifigure creator Jens Nygaard Knudsen, who designed the iconic yellow characters, dies aged 78, as fans around the world pay tribute LEGO posted a message on Twitter thanking the inventor for his ideas Mr Knudsen died on Wednesday at a hospice centre where he was being treated His legendary Lego figure with interchangeable legs and torso released in 1978

Jens Nygaard Knudsen suffered from ALS and died at a hospice in Denmark (Picture: Lego Group)

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Isopix/REX/Shutterstock (4898992h) Lego people figures. Lego bricks can be assembled and connected in many ways, to construct objects like vehicles or buildings Lego - 27 Nov 2014

The figurines’ outfits have changed over the years and become more elaborate (Picture: Rex Shutterstock)

According to Lego, it was decided when the figure was created that it – besides having a yellow face with a neutral happy expression – would have no gender or race as these would be ‘determined by the child’s imagination and play.’

His widow Marianne Nygaard Knudsen said: ‘He was a man of ideas. The figure was created so that there would be life in the houses. At the time Lego’s houses were empty, but then he drew this man.’

In addition to the Lego figure, Nygaard Knudsen was also responsible for developing some of Lego’s classic themes, such as Space and Pirates.

Founded in 1932 by Ole Kirk Christiansen, the group employed over 17,000 people at the end of 2018.

The iconic Lego brick started being manufactured in the 1940s, but was launched in its modern form in 1958, according to the company.

Tambov, Russian Federation - October 04, 2013: Lego minifigures businessman and businesswoman with suitcase shaking hands on black background. Studio shot.

What has not changed is their iconic yellow colour (Picture: Getty)

Colorado, USA - Feb. 18, 2015: Studio shot of 6 Lego minifigures isolated on white background. Lego minifigures and bricks are a popular line of plastic construction toys that are manufactured by The Lego Group, a privately held company based in Denmark.

In addition to the Lego figure, Nygaard Knudsen was also responsible for developing some of Lego’s classic themes, such as Space and Pirates (Picture: Getty)

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