When I was very small I first got into building with Lego with a selection of Duplo bricks, or as my family called them, Big Lego! Â Back then they were pretty simple looking bricks. Â I only remember having the 4×2 studded and 2×2 studded rectangular bricks, and a largish base to build on which was fitted with wheels. Â Despite the simplicity though, many houses, cars and towers were built with those bricks.
When I got old enough to play with regular Lego, my sister inherited my Duplo bricks, but she was lucky enough to get some more interesting bricks to play with. Â Where I had to be content with just rectangular bricks she had a set to make a school class room with, with little square bodied people, a “blackboard” with pull out plastic lesson displays, a large piece with a clock on the side and best of all, a piece with a picture of a bell on it that had a little button in the top. Â When you pressed the button, a bell chime rang!
I must admit I was probably a little jealous so I was quite happy to play with her with these new bricks, despite the fact they were really for toddlers!
Duplo bricks were first introduced in 1969, and are still popular today, especially the tie in sets for Bob the Builder and Thomas the Tank Engine. Â Despite me calling them Big Lego they never had this name, although they were called Lego preschool from 1977 Â to 1979 (which was the period that my sisters school classroom set belongs to) and in 2002 the name changed to Explore for a couple of years, but the bricks remained the same.
Duplo is intended for children aged about 18 months old to 3 years, but the building fun can begin even earlier now with Lego Quatro, which can be used from a year, and Lego Baby (also known as Primo for a time) which is suitable for 6 month olds. Â These latter bricks have only a single connection lug on the top, making them much easier for a baby to stack together.