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June 19, 2013

LEGO figures are getting angrier

Screen Shot 2013-06-18 at 2.52.56 PM

And pretty soon they're gonna rise up and let you know just how P.O'd they are.

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Caitlin Dewey's Washington Post story has the details; excerpts below.

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LEGOs haven't just become astronomically expensive in the past 35 years. According to a new study from researchers in New Zealand, the popular kids' toys have also developed a bit of an attitude problem.

LEGO characters released since the early '90s are proportionately more angry, the study found. They hypothesized the spike in negativity could be related to the release of more thematic Lego sets such as pirates or "Harry Potter," which include weapons and minifigures representing "good guys" and "bad guys."

"It is our impression that the themes have been increasingly based on conflicts," wrote the researchers.

They arrived at this conclusion through a meticulous scientific process, which reads as almost comical given their subject matter. After cataloging and photographing the 3,655 LEGO characters released between 1975 and 2010, they asked 264 American adults to characterize the figures’ expressions as angry, happy, sad, disgusted, surprised or fearful.

They then processed those numbers and plotted them on graphs like the one above, which illustrates the proportional growth of angry faces since the early '90s. Variables (like skin color or whether the figure's head is attached to a body) don't substantially throw off their conclusions.

That's pretty alarming in a world where chewing a Pop-Tart into a gun shape is grounds for school suspension and the psychological impact of violent video games remains a hot debate. One would predict that conflict-oriented figurines are the last thing parents want in their kids' toy chests.

But before you confiscate your kids' LEGOs, consider the good that even angry LEGOs can do. The study's authors acknowledge that a range of emotional expressions "connect[s] to the complex interaction scenarios of today’s users" — in other words, the variation mirrors real life, where anger, fear and "smileys" all magically coexist.

June 19, 2013 at 12:01 AM | Permalink


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