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Like all Lego executives, Knudstorp works in a bright office surrounded by Lego packaging and Lego constructions.

I ask my guide Jette Orduna, head of Lego's archive, what's in there, but she won't say. She slides back one of the cabinet walls, each of which has shelves piled high with old Lego boxes in mint condition.

The label on the shelf reads 1972, when I would have been seven years old.

I don't burst into tears - as more than one adult visitor has done - but I definitely feel a catch in my throat and a moistness in my eyes as I see, arrayed before me, my early childhood: the ambulance set, the police car set, the Shell garage set, all exactly as I remember them from more than 35 years ago. Since its first interlocking brick was launched in 1949 it has become more popular than any toy in history.

Every second, seven new boxes of Lego are sold; for every person in the world, there are 62 Lego pieces; Lego people - mini-figures, as they're known - outnumber real people.