Friday, June 7, 2013

Why So Angry, Little Fella?

Did you know there're 6000 little Lego faces?
And they're getting grumpier!
New research from the University of Canterbury says the increase in angry Lego faces reflects the times we live in. Robot expert Dr Christof Bartneck says the faces of the figures have changed, with an increasing focus on darker themes of conflict, where good forces struggle with bad. While there are Lego sets with a military theme (eg: Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Toy Story and Lego Castle) there're no directly military-themed sets. This is in keeping with Lego's policy of not wanting to make war seem like child's play. However the Lego faces, previously all smiling, now include a range of emotions, and there's a high proportion of angry faces.
Dr Bartneck says the debate continues over the impact of violence in toys, but there's clearly a shift towards conflict themes.
Bartneck's work involved photographing the 3655 figures released between 1975 and 2010 - a labour of Lego Love! He says while the '70s figures all had the same smiley face, from 1989 the range included hundreds of different emotions.
Grrrrr!! Another bad hair day!!
He says the faces can be grouped into six main clusters: disdain, confidence, concern, fear, happiness and anger: angry and happy expressions are the most common. This worries the good doctor, coz he feels even something as simple as a smile or a frown on a toy can influence a child's behaviour or development over time.
He'd like Lego to stay positive and stop making the figures with angry expressions. He says, with more negativity, Lego may struggle to hold on to its highly positive reputation with today's kids.

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