Helen Lovejoy Moment

Study: Lego faces have been getting ‘angrier’ over last 20 years

Lego minifigures appear to be getting angrier and angrier, according to a new study that examined hundreds of Lego heads manufactured since their first launch in 1975.

The University of Canterbury team, led by Christoph Bartneck of the university’s Human Interface Technology Lab, wanted to explore one way Lego might be influencing children through play. Toys, and play time, are considered vital to the development of emotional understanding in children, and with an average of 75 Lego blocks per human on Earth it makes sense to see what kinds of emotions Lego is presenting to children.

Bartneck looked at 3,655 Lego figures manufactured between 1975 and 2010, finding there were 628 different unique faces that would form the dataset. These faces were categorised according to which of six emotions they seemed to represent — anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness or surprise — and how intense that emotion appeared to be.

The ranking was outsourced to 264 members of Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, who each ranked each of the faces to give emotional averages. The emotions on display weren’t mutually exclusive, too — so, for example, one head might look a five for surprise, with a two for happiness.

On average, heads displayed 3.9 different emotions, which means that for a lot of the faces their emotional state is reasonably complex and ambiguous. 324 heads were judged to be dominantly happy, 192 angry, 49 sad, 28 disgusted, 23 surprised and 11 afraid.

However, when historical trends were taken into account, “the trend is for an increasing proportion of angry faces, with a concomitant reduction in happy faces”, Bartneck writes in the study. While Lego has been introducing a greater number of new faces at a faster rate since the early 90s, the happy/angry balance has slowly been moving away from the former and towards the latter.

This chimes with an increase in tie-in Lego sets that have war or conflict themes, Bartneck argues: “We cannot help but wonder how the move from only positive faces to an increasing number of negative faces impacts how children play. Lego has a considerable array of weapon systems in [its] program, although the weapons mainly appear in the fictional themes. Their presence indicated that also Lego is moving towards a more conflict based play themes.”

It could mean that “the children that grow up with Lego today will remember not only smileys, but also anger and fear in the Minifigures’ faces.”

Source: © Ian Steadman, Wired.co.uk

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Lego® and Star Wars and BIG! Oh My!

A Star Wars X-wing Starfighter made from 5.3 million bricks (!!) has been put on display in Times Square in New York. Lego® unveiled the life-sized (!!) spaceship to promote a new Lego® cartoon series called The Yoda Chronicles.

A You…Tube… vid-e-o, you say?

At its tallest the model stands 11 feet high, and has a 44-feet wingspan. The Yoda Chronicles will debut on May 29 on the Cartoon Network yes, yes whatever carry on. Let’s look at the Starfighter some more!

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© Flickr, Business Week, LA Times

A Hermit’s Home

Home is wear the art is: hermit crab moves into Lego shell

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A new home may be hard to afford in these times of austerity, but one lucky crab has landed a multicoloured pad made especially for him.

Harry the hermit crab, who lives in the rock pool in the Atlantis Discovery Area at Legoland in Windsor, Berkshire, has a shell made entirely of Lego bricks.

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Hermit crabs do not have their own shells so normally protect their soft bodies by salvaging empty sea shells and moving into them. Harry showed more discerning taste when he chose a shell made out of the blue, red and yellow bricks over the more traditional options.

Legoland’s Liane Riley said: “We decided to give Harry a wider choice and the model makers here created a special Lego house just for him. We weren’t really sure if he’d actually move in, but he rejected the sea and snail shells on offer and seems very comfortable in his new home”.

Source: guardian.co.uk