A Conversation With Lego Brand Relations Manager Amanda Santoro

 

IMG_0968You’re never too old for Legos: Building something is gratifying, and Lego is an excellent medium for free-range creativity. Those durable little plastic blocks can be combined to make just about anything you can imagine, with no messy adhesives, sharp tacks or nails, or special tools. The act of creating something and taking it apart again isn’t dissimilar to the way that some Buddhist monks tend sand gardens: The process is more important than the results.

We adults don’t play enough. We don’t engage our minds. In our rush to put away childish things, we’ve cut off the connection to our childhood. The great psychologist C.G. Jung seems to have known this. As an older man, he spent hours building tiny stone castles out of sand and pebbles. I can’t help ┬ábut believe that he would have used Legos had they been around.

Lego has a huge presence at San Diego Comic con, and when I arrived at their booth, they were announcing the launch of a new product line to hundreds of adoring fans. I’ve not played with Legos in quite a while. I thought it might be time for me to got back in touch with this treasured part of my childhood, and see what has changed since I’ve been away.

Lego Brand Relations Manager Amanda Santoro was happy to speak with me about the company’s longevity, its licensed product lines, and what it takes to work with one of the world’s most beloved toy brands.

Working at Lego sounds like a dream come true. How did you get involved with the company, and what do you like about it?

I’ve been at Lego for about four years. I started my career in PR, and I’m in a PR role now. I’ve always been on the same level with the company for what it stands for, and I’ve always wanted to work for a global brand. I’m responsible for media and brand relations in the US and Canada: It’s a very full job, and I get to come to events like this and see all of our fans, and talk with the media about Lego.

To what do you credit the lasting allure of Lego?? The brand has been around for awhile.

It has. We have a long history with parents, and now grandparents, here in the US. It’s a toy that parents loved as kids that they can now do with their own kids, and they understand how to play with it: It’s the same play pattern and play function that it was 70 years ago, and there’s something for everyone. Lego is not limited by the way you can build something.

So what are you doing here at Comic Con, and what are you really excited about right now?

We come to Comic Con every year. This is our 15th year here, and we come to really celebrate our fans, show off new things in our license line, do some life-sized model unveils, and show some sets that aren’t out at stores yet. It’s a chance to get in front of really big fans of properties like superheroes and “Star Wars” and show them what Lego is all about.

You’ve got a “Minecraft” line, right?

Yes, we have Lego “Minecraft”, and we have sets. It’s a hugely popular line and we’re excited to have it. We found that a lot of kids who are “Minecraft” fans are Lego fans and vice-versa, and Lego “Minecraft” just made sense. It’s doing really, really well.

Can we talk about some of the new licensed properties?

Sure! Obviously, the new “Star Wars” film is what everyone is talking about, especially here at Comic Con. It’s coming out in a few short months, so we have a life-sized Stormtrooper, the new one, that’s built out of bricks and that’s exciting, and we have a mini-figure case here that has every “Star Wars” mini-figure we’ve ever made on display. Superheroes are big right now: We have a Marvel Hulkbuster display, and a lenticular that has Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. We also have an Iron Man display.

How long does it take to build something like that?

Hundreds of hours! They are built by our master builders at the workshop in Connecticut. This took hundreds of hours to design and build, and is made of hundreds of thousands of bricks.

What does it take to work at Lego?

I think you have to be creative, and really understand what Lego’s values are all about: what we do for kids, and how we encourage them and their creativity. If you’re creativity and love inspiring people, then Lego is a great place to work.