WELLINGTON: Lego products are becoming increasingly violent as toy makers engage in an “arms race” to retain children’s attention in the digital age, New Zealand researchers said on Monday (Tuesday in Manila). The University of Canterbury team said child’s play was becoming more brutal, with a higher proportion of weapons appearing among Lego’s building blocks and war-like scenarios featuring in its themed kit sets. “The Lego company’s products are not as innocent as they used to be,” lead researcher Christoph Bartneck said. “The violence in Lego products seems to have gone beyond just enriching game play.” In a peer-reviewed study published by the online journal PLOS ONE, the researchers concluded that Lego “showed significant exponential increases of violence over time”. While Denmark-based Lego has been making plastic building blocks since 1949, the study found its first weapons were issued in 1978 when a castle kit included swords, axes and lances. An analysis found that weapons had steadily become more commonplace and were now included in 30 percent of Lego kits.