Leave it to academia to decide that toys are too angry. According to a study of thousands of Lego figures, their faces have gone from mostly happy, to increasingly angry over the past twenty years.
The first Lego figures were all smiling, as life in Legoland was simple and without conflict. But according to a report in The Guardian, times have changed.
In a study of 3,655 figures produced between 1975 and 2010, Dr. Christoph Bartneck, a robot expert at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, said the manufacturer appeared to be moving towards more conflict-based themes in its toys. Bartneck’s study considered the range of facial expressions across various Lego sets – now often in themes such as Star Wars, pirates or Harry Potter.
“It is important to study how to create appropriate expressions and how these expressions are perceived by the users. Children’s toys and how they are perceived can have a significant impact on children,” said Bartneck. “We cannot help but wonder how the move from only positive faces to an increasing number of negative faces impacts on how children play.”
With both “good” and “bad” characters in collections, a larger range of facial expressions are displayed according to Bartneck. Speculation has it that the figures may just be more “real” with a greater range of emotions.
“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. In any case, the variety of faces has increased considerably,” he said.
Roar Rude Trangbæk, communications manager for Lego, said every toy developed engages a number of people in the testing phases, and that children enjoy playing out conflicts.
“The conflict between good and evil is nothing new,” Trangbæk said. “But the characters always have classic Lego humour – the good guys always win in the end.”
Trangbæk also noted that if anyone had a problem with an angry face, they could just “switch heads with another figure.”
Watch a report via Newsy here.
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