The ambiguity of stuff

ambiguity

[am-bi-gyoo-i-tee]
noun
doubtfulness or uncertainty of meaning or intention

stuff
[stuhf]
noun
material to be worked upon or to be used in making something

Whilst fleshing out the next BricksCulture article about Star Wars, we touched on the subject of the Stormtroopers and their adoption by the LEGO photography community. These endearing characters have become a favourite amongst us as subject matters. Despite their faces being hidden behind their buckets, a raft of emotions can be portrayed with these much-loved characters.

As is the case with the Stormtroopers, I began thinking of another ambiguous LEGO icon, the minifig head with the standard grin pattern, and its ability to depict a host of emotions.

End of shift on Endor
End of shift on Endor

Keep a grin!
Think! Think Positive!
RKL – Think Positive

Sure, all the new minifig head prints are wonderful. We all look forward to each announcement of the latest collectable minifigs, anticipating new prints, new emotions, and new possibilities. But the endearing standard grin transcends emotions. A printed head with an “Angry Open Mouth with Teeth Pattern”, or a “Black Moustache and Angry Eyebrows”, or “Sad with Tear Pattern”, a “Sneer, Worried, Scared or Frown” pattern” dictates our stories. These emotive newer printed heads, as wonderful as they are, dictate the course our photos take.

Standard date
Standard date

However, the ambiguity of the standard grin pattern leaves the story in our hands.

See your name is ambiguity
My name is something hands can’t hold
Aesop Rock – Battery

Not only is the sex of these heads ambiguous, there is something wonderfully emotive however about these seemingly ambiguous prints. To me the “standard grin” is mischievous, it’s cheeky, it’s smug and it’s simple, even dim-witted at times.

These somewhat misleadingly named “standard grins” open up so much stuff to us. These wonderfully unclear, innocent prints are maybe less innocent than we first think when we compare them to the newer, more intricate prints. Maybe, the vagueness of them is what makes them more intriguing than a print that screams the emotion it portrays.

Hot Diggity Dad
Hot Diggity Dad

The stuff I got is gonna bust your brains out
Well it’ll make you lose your mind
The White Stripes – Stop Breaking Down

The ambiguity of stuff.

12 Replies to “The ambiguity of stuff”

  1. Very interesting post, Brett!
    I really like your idea that this classic face gives us a full scope for imagination! And the figures don’t become less emotional, you show it in your beautiful shots for your article. They follow your own story. Thanks!
    Have a great day!
    Kind Regards,
    Ann.

    1. Thanks Ann. There is something lovely about the vagueness of these prints. I like that they give more scope to transport the viewer to our own stories, or even leave that interpretation firmly with the viewer.
      Cheers,
      Brett

  2. Love this! Excellent post, Brett. I too have great fondness for the classic smiling LEGO heads, even if I don’t use them in my own photos very often. The innocence, and as you perfectly put it, dim-wittedness of the classic grins is incredibly endearing. They make me think of the “This is fine” dog meme https://img.pandawhale.com/post-64231-this-is-fine-dog-fire-comic-Im-N7mp.png

    Your post has inspired me to dig out some of my classic LEGO heads and rethink a few picture ideas. Thanks for that!

  3. Lovely! Though I must admit that to me there´s still a difference between those yellow smiles (happy and naive) and those flesh coloured ones (leaving room for all you suggested)
    But undoubtedtly my favourite facial expression in all of the Lego universe.

    1. Wow! I’d never looked at the yellow and the flesh differently before? But now that you mention it, maybe having grown up with the yellow prints, we assume them to be just happy and naive? Either way, they are amongst my favourite expressions too!

  4. I love how you have used the ‘classic’ face with these characters. They look great – both same but different. I too find them to be a refreshing change from the intensity of the one dimensional faces we see so often. My biggest question is where did you come by the flesh colored versions? They look fabulous and I have sever toy envy :)

    1. Thanks Shelly! There is indeed something magical about these prints. Oh, and a lot of early Star Wars figs had the standard grin in light flesh, Hoth Rebels, Dengar etc. Happy hunting! :D

  5. Love it! I still have a bin of classic heads from my 80’s collection. A lot of them have teeth marks because that’s how I would remove them from the torsos! haha!

    1. Hahaha, now THAT is a blast from the past! I too have many heads with tooth marks, but forgot that that’s where they came from… seems stuck LEGO heads are universal, eh?

      1. I (unfortunately) have buckets of tooth imprinted LEGO. Some mine, some my smalls, and some, I don’t know who’s tooth marks they are. If only there were Brick separators around when I was a small!

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