In years past, you’d spend all afternoon working on a Lego project before excitedly showing it to your mom, and then you’d get disappointed when she asked you what it was supposed to be because obviously it was a battle jungle spaceship for murder ninjas. Now though, Lego seems intent on siphoning all the joy from the act of dreaming up weird and brutal toys by just giving kids Lego weapons. According to researchers at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, the Danish toy manufacturer has increased the number of weapons (swords, guns, etc.) included in its interlocking brick sets “significantly” over the past four decades. The reason for this change, they conclude, would appear to be the influence of media.
“To catch the attention of their customers, toy manufacturers are similarly locked in a metaphorical arms race for exciting new products,” the authors claim. “In this race they do not only compete with other toy manufacturers but also with television and video games, which have also become more violent over the years.”
The study found that nearly 30 percent of Lego sets came with “weapon bricks” in 2014, dramatically higher than when the company introduced weapons in 1978. And that’s just counting items that are obviously weapons. “The definition of ‘weapon brick’ does not necessarily include all possible weapons as it does not cover neutral bricks that could be built into weapons,” the authors explain. It’s true. If you include all the crazy things a nine-year-old can make with those regular colorful plastic bricks — electromagnetic laser guns that turn your younger sister’s brain into snot, for example — there’s truly an endless amount of vicious fantasy that can be played out. It’s awesome.
When asked for a comment on the study by BuzzFeed, a spokesperson for Lego defended the toy manufacturer. “We do not make products that promote or encourage violence,” she said. “Weapon-like elements in Lego sets are part of a fantasy/imaginary setting, and not a realistic daily-life scenario.”