The classic LEGO grin is on its way to being edged out by angry, aggressive expressions that could affect children.
The happy grin of a LEGO figure is so iconic that it wouldn't be a stretch to say that most adults can probably picture it in their mind's eye with more than a bit of accuracy. As the LEGO brand expands its products however, angry faced LEGO figures are being made more common to better match conflict based franchises like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. In turn, the classic LEGO smile could someday become more of a rarity, something researchers fear could be harmful to children.
"We cannot help but wonder how the move from only positive faces to an increasing number of negative faces impacts on how children play," said Christopher Bartneck, whose research with the University of Canterbury in New Zealand pointed to the growing tonal shift in LEGO toys. Bartneck's research, which will presented at press conference in August, involved the study of more than six thousand unique LEGO figures. "Designers of toy faces should take great care to design the expressions and to test their effect since toys play an important role in the development of children."
While we're not experts, and certainly haven't invested time in surveying the faces of thousands of LEGO figures, there is definitely a part of us that wants to roll our eyes at the concept of LEGO faces corrupting children. For one, aggressive LEGO toys aren't a new thing. My favorite LEGO set of all time was a castle released in 1990s that came well stocked with medieval weaponry that my LEGO figures, smiles and all, used to commit some fairly horrific plastic atrocities. Perhaps the scientific community needs to stop looking for bogeymen and accept that children are evil creatures that need avenues to vent their sadism?