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Lego Star Wars characters are taking over the internet

An attempt to overthrow a social media empire

Lego versions of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader cross lightsabers in a screenshot from Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga Image: Traveller’s Tales/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has only been out for a few weeks, but as far as some of the internet is concerned, the trilogy-ender is practically old news. Instead, everyone seems to be talking about Lego Star Wars right now, the family-friendly video game series set in the George Lucas universe.

If you’ve been on TikTok or Instagram lately, perhaps you’ve noticed that these social media platforms have been overtaken by smiling plastic avatars. Depending on where you look, it’s practically a scourge of happy faces surrounded by blue circles. It’s a trend that’s prompted much confusion, given that there’s technically no new game out — the last Lego Star Wars title, The Force Awakens, came out in 2016. The next game, which ties together the Skywalker saga across nine movies, isn’t out until later in 2020.

“Why the fuck is everyones [profile pic] a lego starwars character,” one Twitter user rightly asks.

“Ok can someone explain why everyone on TikTok has a Lego Star Wars characters as there profile pic???” another writes. “I’m lost.”

As New York Times reporter Taylor Lorenz noted on Twitter a few days ago, the whole thing started as a user-created trend on TikTok, with people banding together to create a “raid” against a collective known as Hype House. Hype House is an LA-based mansion where a crew of 19 huge TikTok content creators have come together in an attempt to make collaborations easier. Together, Hype House have millions of followers — and with fame comes some pushback. In this case, it’s all in good fun. The original Lego Star Wars avatar users were pretending to create an army against the Hype House in an attempt to dismantle the rapidly-growing “empire” — think Clone Wars, but on social media.

That may have been where things started, but at this point, it’s become a bandwagon where people are changing their avatars because it’s cool to do so. Some are even taking the blue circles that define these avatars and putting them around actual photographs, just to fit in with the sea of Lego Star Wars profile pictures.

And, to be fair, the Lego Star Wars games are pretty good. Beyond giving hardcore Star Wars fans connective tissue between the main movies, the games also do a splendid job of exploring fan-favorite characters. You could, for example, get baby Anakin to solve a puzzle for you, or you could roll around as a cute little droid.

“Lego Star Wars was always fun for playing everything and everyone, mostly because all the characters look different and have bizarre abilities — unlike, say, Lego Harry Potter, which is just a bunch of British kids waving sticks at stuff,” says Star Wars fan and Polygon reporter Ryan Gilliam.

When you think about it, a whole generation of kids on social media have grown up on these games, and not the movies. The first Lego Star Wars game, which took on the prequels, came out in 2005, compared to 2015’s The Force Awakens. Nostalgia is at play here, as social media users have started abandoning efforts to “defeat” a TikTok group and instead are now simply bonding over their favorite Lego Star Wars characters.