Priest touches off anger after toy complaints

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WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A Roman Catholic priest has touched off a controversy in Poland after news media quoted him describing toys like LEGO's Monster Fighters as tools of Satan that lead children to the "dark side."

The Super Express tabloid quoted the Rev. Slawomir Kostrzewa urging parents to dump the LEGO series as well as Mattel's Monster High. The remarks at a Sunday service in the town of Wolsztyn touched off discussion in predominantly Catholic Poland, which holds priests in high esteem.

Mainstream newspapers seized on the report, as did state radio. Parents took to Twitter to mock Kostrzewa.

At issue are the interlocking block toy's fantasy figures, such as a vampire baring his teeth. The range includes characters like The Swamp Creature and The Werewolf.

In remarks Friday to The Associated Press, Kostrzewa says the faces of the monsters and zombies are scary and undermine a child's right to live in harmony and security. Though he denied that he connected the matter to Satan, he underscored that corporations bent on profit do not have the best interests of children in mind.

"Toys are increasingly ugly and aggressive in form," he said. "Many of them promote negative emotions and the aesthetics of death. In my opinion they have a negative influence on a child's development."

He said some parents need guidance on the effect that toys have on their children.

LEGO spokesman Roar Trangbaek insisted the toys were fun and inspiring, while conflict games have been played for generations.

"You can play out various scenarios and various emotions with the different facial expressions the mini figures have: happy, angry, sad," Trangbaek told the AP. "The beauty of our product is that you can play out whatever you like."

It is not Kostrzewa's first crusade. He has in the past campaigned against Sanrio's Hello Kitty, arguing that it promoted the pornography industry and the sexualizing of young girls.

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