Since 1963, Lego pieces have been manufactured from a strong, resilient plastic known as acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS). As of September 2008, Lego engineers use the NX CAD/CAM/CAE PLM software suite to model the elements. The software allows the parts to be optimised by way of mould flow and stress analysis. Prototype moulds are sometimes built before the design is committed to mass production. The ABS plastic is heated to 232 °C (450 °F) until it reaches a dough-like consistency. It is then injected into the moulds at pressures between 25 and 150 tonnes, and takes approximately 15 seconds to cool. The moulds are permitted a tolerance of up to twenty micrometres, to ensure the bricks remain connected. Human inspectors check the output of the moulds, to eliminate significant variations in colour or thickness. According to the Lego Group, about eighteen bricks out of every million fail to meet the standard required. Lego factories recycle all but about 1 percent of their plastic waste from the manufacturing process. If the plastic cannot be re-used in Lego bricks, it is processed and sold on to industries that can make use of it. Lego has a self-imposed 2030 deadline to find a more eco-friendly alternative to the ABS plastic it currently uses in its bricks.
Over the years, Lego has licensed themes from numerous cartoon and film franchises and even some from video games. These include Batman, Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Minecraft. Although some of the licensed themes, Lego Star Wars and Lego Indiana Jones, had highly successful sales, Lego has expressed a desire to rely more upon their own characters and classic themes, and less upon licensed themes related to movie releases.
In June 2013, it was reported that Warner Bros. was developing a feature film adaptation of Lego Ninjago. Brothers Dan Hageman and Kevin Hageman were attached to write the adaptation, while Dan Lin and Roy Lee, along with Phil Lord and Chris Miller, were announced as producers. The film, The Lego Ninjago Movie, was released in September 2017. A computer-generated animated series based on Lego Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu began in 2011, and another based on Legends of Chima began in 2013. A television series of Lego City has also been announced.
Lego also initiated a robotics line of toys called 'Mindstorms' in 1999, and has continued to expand and update this range ever since. The roots of the product originate from a programmable brick developed at the MIT Media Lab, and the name is taken from a paper by Seymour Papert, a computer scientist and educator who developed the educational theory of constructionism, and whose research was at times funded by the Lego Group.
Although no longer being published in the United States by Scholastic, books covering events in the Bionicle storyline are written by Greg Farshtey. They are still being published in Europe by AMEET. Bionicle comics, also written by Farshtey, are compiled into graphic novels and were released by Papercutz. This series ended in 2009, after nine years.
The last of the three aircraft is a modern biplane. This incorporates a number of rare orange elements including right and left 8 x 3 wedge plates which make up the wings and have only previously appeared in three sets, a 3 x 4 wedge brick only previously found in two sets, and a 3 x 6 round half plate with a 1 x 2 cutout which has only previous appeared in a single set in this colour and which forms the tailplanes. Similar to the two jets the tail fin is stickered rather than printed, as are the pair of 1 x 4 x 1 panels making up the sides of the cockpit. Unlike the jets, however, the instrument panel is stickered, which seems odd as there are existing printed 1 x 2 light bluish grey tiles which could have done an acceptable job. There are also a pair of stickers which represent the engine exhausts and which are applied to a couple of modified 2 x 4 x 1 1/3 bricks with curved top which sit just behind the propeller; applying these neatly to the curved surface takes a steady hand, and that’s also the case for the pair of checkerboard stickers which are stuck onto the propeller cowl. As if stickered exhausts weren’t enough, there are also a couple of light bluish grey exhaust pipes with Technic pin which emerge from the propeller cowl and run along either side of the fuselage. They’re entirely superfluous given the presence of the stickered exhausts but they still look cool regardless!
Since around 2000, the Lego Group has been promoting "Lego Serious Play", a form of business consultancy fostering creative thinking, in which team members build metaphors of their organizational identities and experiences using Lego bricks. Participants work through imaginary scenarios using visual three-dimensional Lego constructions, imaginatively exploring possibilities in a serious form of play.