We welcome an extraordinary guest on BlockBlaze this week. Kristian Imhof is the LEGO Country Manager for South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. Kristian shares his LEGO story with us, how he got involved with LEGO and how LEGO SA engages with fans of the brand in SA and beyond. Finally, he shares some of the LEGO models that are close to his heart.
Being German, one would think that Kristian played with LEGO all his life, which isn’t the case. He grew up in the Eastern part of Germany, back when it was split by the Berlin Wall. This means Kristian never got to play with the brand as a kid. He recalls the wall coming down in 1989 when he was 12 years old. Coincidentally, this past weekend, the 9th of November celebrated the 30th anniversary of the wall coming down.
He only really started engaging with the brand when his first son was born and relived the LEGO brand through Duplo. The first set he decided to buy for himself was the VW camper van.
Kristian’s journey with LEGO started 8 years ago when he joined the company. Over the years he was involved with some product developments. Around two years ago, the South African country manager left the company. Kristian had fond memories of backpacking through South Africa and wondered what it would be like to live in the country. He applied for the position and to his delight, got it and soon moved to SA.
Over the last two years, Kristian was at the helm to drive the brand on the African Continent and specifically bringing the product to more stores across the country. Many initiatives are raising awareness for the brand in the country, including bringing the LEGO Certified Stores to South Africa in strategic business centres. It is one of the missions for LEGO SA to put the brand in every kid’s hands through the LEGO Foundation, amongst other strategies, knowing it’s educational potential.
Kristian was especially impressed with the quality of MOCs when he first visited Brickfair 2017. He was blown away with just how much engagement there were with the product. Fast forward to this year’s Brickfair, he explains that it’s a whole new story! The exhibition is finally in a mainstream location and inside the isles of Menlyn Mall, where the public can directly engage with fans of LEGO and their creations. The projects are more significant, more engaging and the pure level of quality presented is mind-blowing.
Finally, Kristian shares two of his favourite LEGO creations with us. The first is the DBF German Football team minifigures, a project he was personally involved in. A friend of his, who joined LEGO as the PR manager at the time, helped coordinate the project. It was her idea to do a minifigure series for the team. She knew the right people, both on the German Football Association side and the LEGO product development team. Soon the project became a reality and had a massively successful run.
The second model is the LEGO Technic Porsche 911 GT3 RS. Kristian remembers a trip to Billund for a customer preview where the 911 was first revealed. It wasn’t the final model, but rather a camouflaged version of the car. This was done in much the same way the real motoring world would use to hide new vehicles from the eager lenses of photographers. What really blew him away, was the technical achievement behind the model, and the sheer scale and quality of the product. No one realised at the time that this would become the first of a brand new product line. Subsequently, we’ve seen the LEGO Technic Bugatti Chiron, another model with an incredible level of detail.
A huge thank you to Kristian for joining us on the show this week. It’s truly an honour and privilege sharing Kristian’s story with the world.
- LEGO DFB – The Mannschaft – German Football Team: https://www.lego.com/en-lu/product/dfb-the-mannschaft-71014
- Porsche 911 GT3 RS: https://www.lego.com/en-lu/product/porsche-911-gt3-rs-42056
- Bugatti Chiron: https://www.lego.com/en-us/product/bugatti-chiron-42083
- Volkswagen T1 Camper Van: https://www.lego.com/en-lu/product/volkswagen-t1-camper-van-10220
- Support “The Market” on LEGO Ideas: https://ideas.lego.com/projects/0d396314-27b2-4730-9977-c1b65913594c
Recognised LEGO® User Groups (South Africa)
- LEGO® USERS GROUP SOUTH AFRICA (zaLUG): https://www.zalug.co.za/
- LEGO® USERS GROUP Western Cape (capeLUG): http://capelug.co.za/
- Johannesburg LEGO® User Group (jhbLUG): https://jhblug.co.za/
- South African Fans of LEGO®: https://www.facebook.com/groups/safols/
- #aroundtheblock: https://www.facebook.com/groups/aroundtheblocklive/