Lego has been forced to abruptly scrap the planned launch of a new aircraft set amid an online backlash, after a German NGO pointed out that the model’s real-life counterpart was used by the US army in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The new motorized kit, featuring a Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey, was due to hit the shelves on August 10. However, activist group the German Peace Society – United War Resisters launched an online petition calling for the Denmark-based company to scrap the set.
The group pointed out that the aircraft is only used for military purposes and has been deployed on combat missions in places like Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. The activists also claimed that, due to Lego’s licensing deals with Boeing and Bell, “who buys this set, funds arms companies.”
“Companies that produce weapons, which in many countries of the world cause human suffering and death, should not be cooperating with LEGO,” the group said.
The activists also argued that the Osprey model violates the company’s own standards of avoiding “realistic weapons and military equipment that children may recognize from hot spots around the world.”
After receiving complaints, Lego decided to cancel the release. The company said the set was designed to depict “how a rescue version of the plane might look,” but acknowledged that it is currently only used by the military.
“We have a long-standing policy not to create sets which feature real military vehicles, so it has been decided not to proceed with the launch of this product,” Lego wrote in a statement.
This is not the first time the toy building set manufacturer has changed its practices following a backlash. Amid anti-racism and police brutality protests in the US, Lego suspended digital ads for its White House set and kits featuring police-themed pieces. This led to accusations of corporate virtue-signaling by the company.