LEGO Faces Trend: Angrier, Smirkier, Cooler, Nuanced

By Wesley Fenlon

In the 1990s, Lego figures increasingly put on an angry face. Should we be worried?

Something is afoot (abrick?) in Legoland. According to a study picked up by The Guardian, Lego minifigs with happy smiles and silly smirks have become rarer since the 1990s, while angry-faced Lego figures have become more common. The study's creators expressed some concern about the angry-faced figures, and the possibility that they'll negatively affect kids who play with Lego figures for hours on end.

Photo credit: Flickr user pasukaru76 via Creative Commons.

That's probably a possibility, but we're more interested in the number of figures Lego has produced over the years. The study looked at 3,655 minifigs created between 1978 and 2010. Surprisingly, it wasn't until 1989 that Lego started branching out into multiple faces. For more than a decade, all Lego people shared a simple smiley face.

Over the decades, Lego has produced more than four billion minifigs. The study poses the implication Lego is steadily moving towards encouraging conflict in its faces, which isn't surprising--playsets often have good guys and bad guys, and Lego sets are probably used for faux battles as often as they're used for creative construction.

And while the simple smile has become less common in Legoland, it's not like all figures are now outfitted with nasty snarls. The range of emotions has simply widened, and even worried or angry Lego faces often have a certain goofiness to them. We can think of worse things for kids to base their emotional growth on.