A Polish priest has used New Zealand research to warn parents to be on their guard against Lego, saying the plastic blocks are a tool of Satan and can destroy children's souls.
Slawomir Kostrzewa said the popular Danish toy company had taken a lurch to the dark side with its series of Monster Fighters and Zombie mini-figures and that they "were about darkness and the world of death".
"Friendly fellows have been replaced by dark monsters. These toys can have a negative effect on children. They can destroy their souls and lead them to the dark side."
The priest, from the town of Wolsztyn, cited research by the University of Canterbury that found the facial expressions of Lego figures had become angrier over the years and that this compounded their evil potential. "Facial expressions may lead to confusion between good and evil," said Mr Kostrzewa. "It appears the good suffer in battle and the 'villains' have a face showing satisfaction with their evil deeds."
Dr Christoph Bartneck, one of the Canterbury academics who produced the Lego study, said nothing in the research indicated the figures could destroy children's souls.
"We didn't explicitly test the influence Lego could have on children. We only went as far as being able to conclude the faces have changed. What effect that is having on children has not been covered by our study at all."
Mr Kostrzewa has previously described My Little Pony as a "carrier of death".
Lego was not available for comment. A July show in Christchurch will feature 1500sq m of Lego creations.
"If anyone wants to have a personal experience of what can or cannot be done with Lego or how evil it is, I would suggest they attend," Dr Bartneck said.