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Lego Figurines Get Angry

Ah, Legos. No household with kids is complete without a jumble of these colorful interlocking blocks. Yet all is not well in Legoland, as is evidenced by a new study that’s found the faces on the mini-figurines are getting angrier year by year.

At the Human Interface Technology Lab at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, researchers have gathered photos of all the Lego figurines produced between 1975 and 2010. From there, they had volunteers rate their facial expressions for a range of emotions—happiness, anger, fear, disgust, surprise and sadness—then plotted their data on a timeline.

The results? In 1980, all the figurines were “smileys.” But by the mid-1990s, about 80 percent of figurines had happy faces. Twenty percent of those jolly grins had been supplanted by grimaces and scowls beneath knitted brows. “Things have changed a lot since I was a kid,” said the study author, Christoph Bartneck, who worked a brief stint at Lego in the 1990s and is a self-described AFOL (Adult Fan of Legos). “The children that grow up with Lego today will remember not only smileys but also anger and fear in the Minifigures’ faces.”

What’s up, Lego? Are these toys a reflection of the darker realities of modern childhood today? Do angry Legos create angrier kids? No one knows, and so far the company has declined to comment. Whatever the answers, we doubt that parents will shun this popular toy any time soon. Sad, mad or happy, playing with Legos sure beats zoning out in front of SpongeBob SquarePants any day.

Photo via NBC News

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