Today's Legos Are Angrier

Happy plastic faces on the decline: study

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 13, 2013 7:25 AM CDT

(Newser) – Lego characters, it seems, are no longer living in a state of bliss. Once, the figures wore uniform smiles, whether they were gas station workers or hospital patients. Today, however, life has gotten more complicated: Since the 1990s, the number of angry Lego faces has climbed while the number of happy ones has declined, a New Zealand researcher finds. Dr. Christoph Bartneck and his team reviewed 3,655 figures from between 1975 and 2010, and he noticed an increasing number of conflict-themed sets, as in Star Wars or Harry Potter, the Guardian reports.

"We cannot help but wonder how the move from only positive faces to an increasing number of negative faces impacts on how children play," Bartneck says. Though Lego sets often stage a battle between good and bad, "the facial expressions are not directly matched to good and evil. Even the good characters suffer in their struggle, and the villains can have a smug expression." That could, perhaps, be good for kids, the Washington Post notes, given what Bartneck calls "the complex interaction scenarios of today’s users." And worried parents can just swap the characters' heads, adds a Lego rep.

Abbey Stubblefield poses next to a LEGO Hulk figure in the exhibit hall on preview night at Comic-Con on at the San Diego Convention center Wednesday, July 11, 2012, in San Diego.   (Denis Poroy/Invision/AP)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR LEGO - A 10-foot tall model of Lord Vampyre, the lead character in a new line of construction toys, was assembled overnight from 150,000 LEGO bricks to kick off the Halloween season...   (Photo by Cheryl Gerber/Invision for LEGO/AP Images)
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