Long before the LEGO Group existed to produce interlocking plastic bricks, the impact of the Great Depression arrived in Billund, Denmark and Ole Kirk Christiansen switched from making furniture to wooden toys. The most icon toy from those early decades is the pull-along wooden duck.
That duck has become an icon for the LEGO Group since that acknowledges the history of the brand. While LEGO Duck was produced as the annual employee gift in 2011, it has never been recreated as an actual LEGO boxed set that fans can buy.
So far, LEGO House has released three exclusive sets; 21037 LEGO House, 4000026 Tree of Creativity and 40366 LEGO House Dinosaurs. Each one is based on the venue itself or a visually significant structure within it. Now, this new series of limited edition sets is beginning with 40501 The Wooden Duck, offering the set for purchase to those who visit the Billund attraction.
Given the long history of the wooden duck and the familiarity fans have with it as a LEGO icon, the set has to be right. Fans would not forgive something that is a little bit off, as this is likely the only time it will be released as a 1:1 scale set.
Thankfully, the designers behind the model have done just that. Taking the most familiar edition of the duck and its colours as a starting point, the set captures the toy as closely as can be expected within the LEGO system.
In terms of colours, the selections here are excellent. Original wooden ducks are now faded, so the designers have selected colours that suggest the vibrance that the toy would have had it when it first rolled off the factory line. Earth Blue is a suitable choice for the base, while Earth Green and New Dark Red contrast nicely for the duck’s body.
Building the set is really satisfying, as while there are a few flourishes here and there, most if it is layering bricks. There is something incredibly relaxing about putting pieces together in that way, especially as it becomes more of a novelty.
While the shape of the model might seem simple at first glance, the original wooden toy actually has a very specific profile and curved elements have clearly been carefully chosen to capture it. It gives the duck a nice, organic feel that matches the classic version nicely.
The mechanism works brilliantly. As the model is rolled, the cam on the wheel pushes the Technic beams up, leading to the beak opening and closing. This sits nicely in the centre of the model, and in a great touch can be easily accessed as the side panels are attached with Technic pins. The employee gift version of the wooden duck did not feature the opening and closing mouth.
To capture the duck’s eye, a special printed part has been included. It’s a nice touch as otherwise there would have had to be some compromise solution, it nicely matches the shape of the eye on the original.
The only thing to grumble about here is the release of the set – limited editions and exclusives were a popular marketing tool for companies in the 1990s, which thankfully became less popular in the 2000s after fans grumbled enough times – in the late 2010s, they are back with a vengeance and the LEGO Group has become more susceptible to the practice than before. Previous LEGO House exclusives were super specific to the venue, whereas this is a set that is linked, but less closely, to the attraction. There is an argument to be made that it should have been released in a broader way.
For those who do visit the LEGO House though, this will make an excellent souvenir. It is so closely linked to the LEGO Group’s history that it is a must-have and will be one of those sets that deserves to be on permanent display on the shelf. Even those who don’t make the trip out to Billund will want to own this impressive LEGO brick replica of the wooden duck and should head to their preferred third party selling platform to order one.
LEGO House is open now, with special measures in place to allow guests to social distance while visiting.