Should LEGO release modern military sets? [Editorial]

Warning: This is an opinion piece, and may not reflect the opinions of my co-bloggers, The LEGO Company, or custom-accessory producers (whose products appear here for illustration purposes only). This post may also include external links to opinions and facts you may not agree with, so read the whole post and share your own thoughts in a comment.

We feature so many LEGO military creations here on The Brothers Brick that all those fighters, battle dioramas, and tanks have their own category. There’s also a lively discussion going on among commenters in the LEGO City 2010 post. Between Independence Day last Friday here in the United States, my own pacifist upbringing, and this recent discussion, I’ve been giving some serious thought to the convergence of LEGO bricks and the military, and the differences between realistic and fantasy violence.

Desert Soldiers on FlickrI myself have built plenty of LEGO military creations, most frequently to illustrate the most accurate historical use for custom accessories I’m reviewing. I’ll also admit that like many males, I have a strong fascination with things that go “Boom!

In responses to questions from Gizmodo readers, here’s what a LEGO Company representative said recently:

Q: Are there any chances that Lego will ever start producing modern day warfare Lego, with tanks and helicopters and what not?
A: We have a strict policy regarding military models, and therefore, we do not produce tanks, helicopters, etc. While we always support the men and women who serve their country, we prefer to keep the play experiences we provide for children in the realm of fantasy.

Some LEGO fans argue that LEGO has, in fact, released military-themed sets in the past:

And of course, there have been elements of conflict throughout many of LEGO’s themes, going all the way back to the earliest police and castle sets of the 1970s. More recently, LEGO has even included realistic-looking guns in Wild West, Star Wars, Batman, Indiana Jones, and other themes.

This leads to the obvious question from another Gizmodo reader:

Q: Why did they changed the founders rule to never make gun like elements?
A: The company still has a no gun policy when it comes to realistic or military play scenarios. However, in order to stay true to the strong licensed properties we incorporate to the Lego portfolio, we need to stay true to those properties and sometimes that involves including weapons. In our own play themes, some element of good vs. bad conflict is typically considered to provide for role play opportunities. In those instances, the setting is very clearly a fantasy world.

The distinction makes sense to me. Most 10-year-olds aren’t going to mistake a set that includes dinosaurs and a four-wheeler with a lightly-armored Humvee avoiding improvised explosive devices. Similarly, dwarves fighting goblins, the undead, or even each other are unlikely to evoke images of coalition forces putting down the insurgency in Fallujah.

If LEGO were to create sets based on the military, that begs the question, “Which military?” LEGO is a global company. If they were to design military sets, which countries should be represented? Royal Danish Jægerkorpset (special forces) or HDMS Absalon? American A-10 Thunderbolt (with depleted uranium flick-fire action!) and M1 Abrams tank? Russian R-36 ICBM (with pop-out MIRV warhead action!) and Sukhoi Su-27?

Extraordinary RenditionOr perhaps LEGO could take its inspiration from the military history of the past 100 years. Would you buy an Allied flamethrower set, with Okinawan civilian minifigs in caves ($29.99), or a Dresden Firebombing playset with limited-edition Kurt Vonnegut minifig ($49.99)? Modular Hanoi Hilton and Ho Chi Minh’s bunker? Something from the War on Terror, perhaps: An Al-Quada training camp set with Osama bin Laden minifig, camouflaged Navy SEAL, and inbound cruise missile ($19.99) or extraordinary rendition set with unmarked CIA jet, compliant third-world diplomat, and abducted French-Algerian shopkeeper ($39.99)?

How about a LEGO Third Reich theme, with an impulse-purchase Adolph Hitler for $2.99 and a LEGO Auschwitz for $89.99?

“An Osama bin Laden minifig?! LEGO Auschwitz?! That’s going too far. Andrew, that’s patently offensive!” Exactly. War is not fun. War is not play.

Ultimately, the job of every military is to conduct war (whether defensive or offensive), and I believe that war is wrong. There are those in every government who would have its citizens believe that the lives of people who don’t look like us, live somewhere outside our borders, or don’t believe the same things we do are somehow less valuable than our own. And therefore, it’s okay to kill our fellow human beings to achieve the political goals of these leaders.

Applying this philosophy to my LEGO hobby, I don’t believe LEGO sets that depict realistic or modern military themes — including soldiers, military vehicles, and historical conflicts — are appropriate for children ages 5 to 12. Other toy companies certainly don’t agree, taking advantage of patriotic fervor and every boy’s fascination with guns. And yet, this is one of the very reasons I respect LEGO and their no-military policy. They stand apart from the rest.

On a more practical level, LEGO’s largest market is Germany, a country whose 20th-century history has left many modern Germans without much of a taste for war. LEGO is also a global company. As my somewhat outlandish list of potential military sets illustrated, how could LEGO possibly choose which countries to represent?

Martin Luther King, Jr. minifig on FlickrI’m probably not going to convince many of you that pacifism or nonviolence is always the most appropriate political response, but I hope that I’ve made you think, and that perhaps some of you can understand why I personally hope that The LEGO Company never changes its no-military policy.

Thanks for reading. Without further ado, sound off in the comments and vote your conscience in the new poll.

[poll id=”9″]

122 comments on “Should LEGO release modern military sets? [Editorial]

  1. Mike

    Mad Physicist Says:
    “The Sopwith Camel and the Red Baron were examples of that, and you could argue the same thing about the USS Constellation. I don’t remember anybody being offended by those. I could argue that that’s the kind of thing that I build, although many of my models are contemporary. However, we’re not just talking about military models aimed at people of 16 .
    We’re also talking about LEGO CITY 2010, aimed at designing sets for kids between 5-12. That’s a rather different matter.”
    ***above quoite edited for details***

    Exactly my point. LEGO Sets released for sale to the public shouldn’t be military sets. Since the 5-12yo market is the main target, but by puting pieces in the LDD for people to buy, create, and design. TLC could provide the tools needed to build military sets.

    It would almost be like the 5-12yo market would be done through premade sets. While the older target group could be catered to through the LDD.

    It’s probably the best solution to this issue without offending the majority of buyers.

  2. Rocko

    How did this turn into rants on violence in general in Lego sets. Of course Lego doesn’t make military models but they’ve been making sets with weapons for more than 30 years. It’s nothing new. I want someone to show me a written document with an official Lego nonviolence policy because I don’t think it exists.

    As for military stuff, I don’t see how a lot of you don’t get the difference between fantasy conflict and military. Kids can fantasize about killing dinosaurs or having sword battles with dragons or whatever. There’s no way they’ll be able to grow up and get to be their childhood fantasy. Military toys are different in that children that have modern military fantasies have the very real opportunity to act that out in real life. Seeing as how you can join the military as a child(17 year old brains are not fully developed), those ambitions are still fresh in the minds of the kid who wants to be Desert Storm Commando.

    So as far I’m concerned, Lego doesn’t need a shred of public opinion to base their policy on. Hell, could you imagine the state we’d be in if people would have been allowed to vote on segregation in the sixties? In some cases, you can’t let the idiots decide policy.

  3. Aaron

    To Bruce-

    I absolutely am asserting that the red spacemen represented the USSR and the white spacemen represented the USA. Of course LEGO never mentioned this, and of course it’s an assumption. But it seems pretty likely to me that a pacifist country like Denmark, in the wake of more than twenty years of heated conflict between the USSR and USA (of which the moon shot was a symbolic race itself) was trying to make a small statement by putting these two superpowers together on the moon, working together. It’s easy to forget that at that point in history, the western world’s political and economic power was divided so intensely and for such a long time. The whole idea that these red and white spacemen weren’t somehow a jab at the ridiculous nature of cosmonauts vs. astronauts is plausible, but I kind of doubt it.

  4. Dr. X

    I agree with obxcrew’s last comment again. I think it would work. Also, I really think more UCS planes would work.

  5. nolnet

    Andrew, this is really a great piece of blogging. I totally agree with your statement.

    I wish I could express my thoughts as eloquently in english as in german, but I can’t and many of you have done so already. So I’ll stick to the bottom lines: modern military Lego – no, please, never! TLC being hypocritical – yes, It seems so. The total amount of LEGO weaponry exceeds my sense of taste as it is already.

    TLC is the greatest toy company ever. Over the last 20 years I started to like them less and less for several reasons (like giant hollow baseplates, fleshies, bionicles, belleville…) but on the other hand they gained back a lot of my respect lately for stuff like creator sets, cafe corner or the awesome dwarfs. I kinda like them a lot right now!
    Sadly, a whole lot of that hard-earned respect vanished today when I read this post and found out about those trigger-happy US-versions of the rather zoological Dino2010-theme. Speak about different mentalities, huh? I mean, killing extinct animals? What the hell?

    I do hope TLC will never release a modern military line – it just wouldn’t be my kind of toy any more.

    Moritz

  6. obxcrew

    As I mentioned earlier, perhaps a line that pits a modern military against rogue robots may work nicely. Builders’ thirst for realistic military vehicles would be quenched without the awkward facets of a faction versus faction line.

    The “evil” robots could perhaps be Terminator esque, with silver minifig bodies and robot arms with modular attachments. They could possess mecha (in a more martial style than the Exo Force vehicles), also in silver and bristling with laser weaponry, to give them a bit more menace.

    The military, on the other hand, could have a mix of quasi futuristic vehicles such as tanks, trucks, and helicopters, as well as an exoskeleton, all in a woodland camouflage pattern using existing dark green and reddish-brown bricks. The current Star Wars weapons would suffice for infantry.

    Just a thought.

  7. Leigh Holcombe

    I’m extraordinarily ambivalent on this topic. I’m against war and pre-teen violence, but I agree that Lego has crossed that Rubicon, especially with the Indiana Jones line. The new Agents sets are pretty violent and have realistic weapons and gear, and that’s not one of the company’s licensed properties. So how true to the letter of their word are they staying?

    I would like to see a crapload more bricks produced in Dark Green, Sand Green, and Dark Blue, though. If military sets are the only way to get that done, well, so be it.

  8. Eric D. Burdo

    I think I agree with Brendan Smith on this one. I think LEGO is making war based sets. And has for eons.

    And the whole “licensed vs. non-licensed” thing is a joke too. LEGO pieces are LEGO pieces. I happen to be a bit anal and keep some of my sets separate (castle from town, space, etc). But I don’t worry about keeping the new castle sets from the old ones. Or the Agents sets from my Town.

  9. Nils

    I would consider the western theme just as inappropriate as a holocaust-theme, since the era it portrays involved what some would call a genocide on native americans. but hey, that’s just me.

  10. Magnus

    Lots of great points here.

    I’ll probably end up repeating lots of what others have said already, so I’ll start out by saying something that I don’t think I’ve read yet in this thread:

    To me, the “good versus evil” theme of current TLG themes is a problem, rather than a mitigating factor, when considering the violent elements in playthemes.

    The classic Castle sets didn’t have quite as distinct differences, you never quite knew for sure which factions were the Goodies and Baddies, so it was up to you to figure that out yourself.
    Even with the Pirate sets, I’m sure lots of kids thought of the Pirates as the lovable antiheroes, rather than the evil villains. This is like real-life conflict, it is rare that there are very clear right/wrong distinctions when people fight each other. Even during WWII, the Allies ended up lowering themselves to the point of destroying whole cities full of civilians.

    Pick up a Castle set today, or one of the Agents sets, and you’re presented with Goodies and Baddies – and an entirely unrealistic depiction of what conflict is about. It’s actually terribly uneducational. If LEGO were to do a Military theme, I’d prefer to see one with two conventionally armed factions that aren’t clearly identified as Good or Bad. “Red Side” and “Blue Side.” If done well, it could be very cool. Whenever I show off my military stuff at events there’s usually a kid who asks me who are the goodies and who are the baddies. And I always explain to them that “Well these guys think they’re the Goodies and those guys are the Baddies; but those guys think that they’re the Goodies and these guys are the Baddies.”

    Now, if LEGO have “crossed the Rubicon” with the most recent Indy sets, then they have been in the process of crossing that river for many many years now. Castle? Pirates? Vikings? Wild West? I could go into just how bloodthirsty our history is, (and notice how LEGO always focuses on the more violent aspect of it) but I don’t want to tax anyone’s patience. For my money, TLG lost its identity as a “peaceful toy company” a very long time ago.

    And honestly, I think the company understands that it’s gone in a certain direction that may not be what it anticipated, when the Black Falcons and Crusaders first crossed swords a whole generation ago. Oh, when pushed, they’ll still cough up some sort of vague anti-violent official comment, but they aren’t as self righeous about promoting themselves as a peaceful toy producer as they used to be.

    But they still do try to have their cake and eat it too. And it is utterly hypocritical of course – not entirely unlike waterboarding people, and then telling yourself that you aren’t technically torturing them.

    So, LEGO military theme? Yay or Nay? Hmm…

    As someone who is interested in military technology and history, I’d absolutely love to see LEGO do a minifigbased military theme – so long as they did it justice.

    As a military MOC builder, what would probably be more useful to me would be: More pieces available at a decent price in dark green and dark tan; and olive green bricks in bulk – perhaps introduced by a adult audience- oriented UCS scale military line of sorts.

    As a concerned citizen, who thinks tanks are cool, but has a lot of issues with some of the more high profile wars going on right now (Iraq, Afghanistan), I’d suggest that it is up to parents to interact with kids and explain the difference between playing war and real-life war. I know my mother tried to stop me playing with guns as a kid, but that didn’t stop me from going on to joining the Army for a little while, and then building all sort of LEGO military stuff as an adult.

    As an AFOL who wants to see TLG continue to do well financially, I think it makes sense to do what would bring in most money in the long run. There is definitely a market for this kind of thing, and I’m guessing the money brought in would more than counterweigh the losses from the few parents and AFOLs who stopped buying LEGO just out of protest. But I’m not a market analyst, so I don’t honestly know for sure.

  11. Kaitimar

    Wow, 60 comments! You´we stirred a wasps nest there, Andrew!

    As I scroll down, I must say that I share the opinion with Magnus just above. I voted NO to military sets, but then again, they are already here. Minifigs are blasting away in just about any theme you can imagine. But more worrying is the dualistic concept they have adopted. THAT is the real problem. But don´t blame LEGO. Blame “War on terror”.

  12. shortbusboy

    In reading this all I can think about is, that as a kid me and my best freind (both still into lego:) always played with guns. We were gleefull when pirates came out and we could arm all the cops with pistols and then shoot the hell out of them with whatever our black helmeted super-villians had (usually a giant gun). And we were seven.

    I also remember going over to other kids houses who weren’t alowed to have “anything violent” and just how much that sucked.

  13. GreenLead

    In agreement with obxcrew, while war isn’t desirable, sometimes it is necessary.

    Interestingly, I noted that the Mars Mission series revolved around the concept of Humans occupying Mars for minerals and the Martians defending their territory. I mean, sure, no Humvee or Abrams tanks, but still the same concepts.

    I too agree it would be a very bad idea to have the hypothetical theme focus on a particular real-life nation…what about the Democratic Republic of Lego States, a fictional nation created for the Alpha Company forums?:

    http://alphacompany.phpbb3now.com/

  14. Horace

    I think Lego should stay off military just because it’s such a slippery slope that it can suck resources away from their true root: imagination. (One can argue that the sets these days already have a lot less playability compared to the older ones such as the late 80’s, at least to a child. There are less alternative models shown on boxes, which, to a child, provides the first step to making their own MOC.) I think the military line will sell, but then we’ll see more and more set just being built but not taken apart for creative purposes. Hey, if people want military, there are plenty of MEGABL*K and other clones out there…

  15. obxcrew

    About the LS, nice try, GreenLead. ;)

    I do agree that the Mars Mission line is similar to real life colonization.

  16. BJ

    As someone who is very pro-military. Supports the current conflicts the USA is involved in, I can understand and respect your opinion.

    I’d also agree with it.

    I would think. Leave the true military and politics out of Lego. Allow the third party companies to see fit to make them, and allow the buyers to build what they choose with what they can buy from Lego and other companies.

  17. JDreyer

    Although Lego has drawn an arbitrary line in the sand by not making and selling sets based on current or historical military hardware (with a few exceptions), I think that the underlying reason that the overwhelming number of sets have violent themes is that violence sells.

    As far as leaving politics out of Legos? I’d love to see an Obama Rally set, just so I could collect a wide collection of different minifigs…

  18. Ryan (DeMartinet)

    I agree with Magnus in some ways.

    I’ll use Space as my example/argument. I do prefer how their past Space themes never had any real “conflicts”, as far as I can remember. Each theme had one and only one faction (with the exception of Space Polices 1 and 2; even then, though, neither side could actually do any harm to the other, due to the lack of weapons). If the children wanted to build lasers for the Blacktron people to kill the Futuron people with, then TLC couldn’t stop them; they certainly didn’t encourage it, though…
    …Until later themes such as UFO and Insectoids. They now had real weapons, and were given an obvious “bad guy” air. Sure, they still had no one within their own theme to beat up.
    But most kids don’t buy only one theme’s sets. Combine them with Town, and they had an invasion with lots of lasers and fear. Kids can’t kill anyone with a laser in reality, so TLC felt safe doing this fantasy.
    With Life On Mars, Two factions were represented almost equally for the first time. Life On Mars had a little message/moral attached to it: the people made friends with the Martians, despite their differences. No shooting people. But were there lasers? Yep, and no matter what TLC says they use them for, no matter what the “official” storyline was, kids would put one of the sides as “good” and the other as “evil”.
    Then a similar theme, Mars Mission, arrived. Same basic idea: humans colonize Mars and meet aliens. But this time, the aliens were definitely supposed to be “evil”. And the fighting may seem fantasy, but these are actual human minifigs (as opposed to an alien race) this time getting hurt with the Martians’ weapons. No matter how “fantastical” it appears, a weapon is a weapon.

    And Space isn’t the worst.

    The same goes for Castle, Star wars, and almost any other long-running theme you can think of. LEGO themes have been getting steadily more violent for a long time, and now have made themes virtually as violent as possible without doing modern warfare sets. TLC is encouraging kids to use the good guys’ guns to wound the evil people. This good/bad thing may not seem realistic, but doesn’t every side in a war believe that they, and only they, are righteous, and that all other sides, well, aren’t?

    Whether we like it or not, TLC will most definitely not return to its pacifist roots, but I think it neither should nor will release modern realistic military sets, at least not without making its own factions (think Dino Attack humans).

  19. Wusmand

    Wow, look at all these lame noobs wanting Lego to stick with fantasy violence, BRING THE WAR TO LEGO!!!!!!!!!!

  20. Andrew Post author

    Good job, Wusmand — way to derail a rational, mature conversation with your ad hominem argument.

    Let’s keep the name-calling out of this conversation, please.

  21. EthanAgain

    Anyone who calls himself “Wusmand” should probably keep the name-calling to a minimum. Jus’ sayin’.

    -E

  22. christian

    hi i am a lego builder and i love military things (tanks,planes) but i also agree about comments about good guys vs bad guys. imagine if one kid said i have the good guy and you have the bad guy,you lose.

    but i belive that the lego company could easily build military planes without weapons. but tlc could make a fan site where you cuold buy pieces to make aircraft missiles and fueltanks and i know about mechanized brick by the way.

    i have seen pictures of what i think was some sort of a lego set that looked like some concentration camp without people of course. cheers christian

  23. Magnus

    Andrew,

    First off, thanks for starting this thread.

    I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on what it is like being a pacifist who happens to think that “things that go boom” are cool. Or at least “fascinating”.

    Also, as a pacifist, how do you feel about the current action-based sets that TLG has been putting out? Has a line been crossed already, and if so, how much of a problem do you have with that?

    thanks

    Magnus

  24. Josh

    Wow, what a post, Andrew. Very well written. Here is my take, for all the world to see. I understand TLC’s hesitation to build modern military sets. They would have to walk an extremely fine line in order to avoid offending much of their global fan base. I think it would sell well here in the US, but many people in the rest of the world would be very offended. As a whole, we Americans have always been addicted to “things that go Boom”. Also, we have been “at peace” (compared to the rest of the world) for so long, I think many of us tend to forget that its not a video game.

    Regarding the fact that Lego has released historical themes with violence, I believe that point is that no one currently alive has experienced those conflicts, although the Wild West sets were pushing that line, due to political issues that still exist.

    As another pacifist with a decided fascination for the history of warfare, I would rather Lego didn’t make a move into modern warfare. But, in the end, the company will do what they feel is in their best interests.

    The rest of my post is in answer to Magnus’ questions (though they weren’t addressed to me).

    I consider myself a pacifist. I grew up in a pacifist family, but my parents let me play with toy guns and I went through my GI Joe stage as well. But they always made it very clear what was “pretend” and what was “real”. I think it is very normal to have an interest in things that we would never do in real life. For instance, my favorite period of history is the medieval era/s. Would I want to actually experience it? Never.

    In regards to the current action sets that Lego has out, I don’t have a major issue with them. I have 4 children at home and some of them have Batman, Indy, and Starwars sets. As we play, it gives us the opportunity to talk about many of the issues brought up in this post. My take is that unsupervised play with violent toys and games is dangerous in the long run. But properly supervised play is beneficial to teaching kids about reality and how their choices will affect others. I could go on for a long time about all of this, but I will get off my soapbox for now.

  25. Cashcleaner

    I’m rather surprised that the idea hasn’t been mentioned (or maybe it has and I missed it), but what about making a compromise between the people wanting military-themed sets and those wanting to stay true to the more light-hearted fantasy models? I believe that we can have some militaristic models and still stay true to the LEGO founder’s vision of having no realistic or overtly violent military themes.

    Simple solution: LEGO Peacekeepers.

    I really hope I don’t have to copyright that idea (now I’m all paranoid that BrickArms is gonna start churning out blue helmets and flak jackets tomorrow), but to me it really makes a lot of sense. Just imagine a line of LEGO kits somewhat along the lines of the new Agents models with modern or near-future vehicles such as HUMVEES, helicopters, transport trucks, or patrol boats; but instead of just having a bunch of armed LEGO soldiers included, make the sets themed more towards humanitarian efforts or international law enforcement.

    Now chew on these possible kits for a second:

    LEGO Peacekeepers

    The LEGO Peacekeepers are an elite corps of soldiers and engineers dedicated to perserving world peace and protecting innocent lives during times of conflict or natural disaster.

    Peacekeepers Set #1: Peacekeeper HQ

    Set includes a large Peackeeper base that includes command and control centre, communications room, stockroom, garage and barracks. Also included are a Peacekeeper utility truck, command car, and four Peacekeeper minifigs (1 Commander and 3 Peacekeepers).

    Peacekeepers Set #2: Helicopter Air-drop

    The Peacekeepers have been called in to assist in disaster relief. Send in the helicopter to drop some medicine and food!

    Set includes Peacekeeper helicopter with two supply crates and tents. Also included are two peacekeepers (1 Pilot and 1 Winchman) and two villagers.

    Peacekeepers Set #3: Bandit Blockade

    Evil bandits are stealing vital supplies from those in need. The Peacekeepers have been sent in to secure the roads and make sure the villagers get their food.

    Set includes Peackeepers tank, transport truck, and blockade. Also included are 3 Peacekeepers and 3 bandits.

  26. Cr4sh Dummy

    Aside from a few asinine comments, I think this has been a excellent discussion. While it’s true that war is the continuation of politics through other means, those political objectives can be just and in most cases they are. And I agree that ultra realistic military themes (e.g. Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down) would not be appropriate for children ages 5-12, but I don’t think anyone is asking for that, we all know that war is hell.

    The Lego company could do a modern war theme (i.e. 1939- present) along the lines of Battlefield Heroes:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battlefield_Heroes (which features WWII styled vehicles but doesn’t have real countries fighting each other) or a historical theme along the lines of the Civilization series of games:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civilization_(series) (which doesn’t praise or single out one nation over another and the game has been used for educational purposes). I think that those two options would be appropriate for kids, especially the the Civilization option because it has an educational benefit to it. And also, as others have said, a UCS line of aircraft would be fine as long as you could only order it online or via a hobby shop.

  27. KaT Adams

    I feel that LEGO’s choice to avoid realistic military type creations is perfectly reasonable and I support it so long as they let others manufacture compatible pieces that /do/ match the modern military look.

    As for war being bad, I hope you mean initiating war is bad–it only takes one side to /start/ a war; surviving it without subjugation requires response.

  28. Cashcleaner

    Thanks obxcrew.

    I think the main crux of the debate for having military kits is that people simply want to build cool tanks, jets, and helicopters. With that said, those vehicles don’t neccesarily have to be involved in a combat situation and I believe people would just be as satisfied with a grey, black, and white armoured vehicle towing a trailer of medical supplies than they would of the same vehicle sporting a camoflage paint job and towing a howiter.

    Because we all know many military vehicle can serve non-violent purposes, I think going the route of Peacekeepers (or something similar along those lines) would be a good compromise.

  29. Mad Physicist

    Do we even need a military line? I can see the appeal of more UCS sets like the Sopwith Camel and Red Baron, as I mentioned before, but apart from that? If you look at the military creations blogged here or posted on the flickr military group, for instance, it’s pretty obvious that there are quite a few builders who manage to build rather nice military models with the pieces that are available now (and a little help from brickarms in some cases). I could do with a wider range of dark green bricks and plates, but those probably will become available as time progresses in all kinds of other sets that don’t raise all kinds of complicated moral issues.

    Cheers,
    Ralph

  30. Bill Ward

    I think the fantasy vs realistic distinction is very important. As was mentioned above a kid can join the military at 17 and end up in Iraq before he/she knows it. Or he/she might have a relative or friend who’s already there, or gods forbid, has been killed there already.

    Then you get to the whole political mess about whether a given war is a good idea or not. And I’m amazed to see that this thread has managed to stay off of that topic; it wasn’t until about 60 messages in that Iraq was even mentioned directly.

    But fantasy is different. Every kid (except those destined to grow up as a sociopath) understands the difference between pretend and real life. Having Indiana Jones fighting the Nazis or Russians, or having Agents fighting off the henchmen, is no big deal. It’s all imagination, and there’s no way that kid is going to grow up to know or be one of the characters in those situations. But with a modern warfare context, there is a very real possibility, and that would take some of the fun out of it for a lot of people.

    And another reason for LEGO to avoid modern military sets would be Megablox who have already gone there. The last thing LEGO wants to do is to send the message that Megablox is the market leader by copying them!

    So my vote was to stick with the current policy, and I hope they do.

    As for things I think LEGO should do in the future, I’d be happy to see them continue to produce elements that are usable for military MOCs, through things like the Indiana Jones or Agents sets, without actually producing modern military sets themselves.

  31. KaT Adams

    Ryan DeMartinet; Perhaps you would, but I would not, nor could I watch those I love die at the hands of another and do nothing to prevent it. Evil men and actions cannot be prevented, but they may be opposed. First peaceably, good willing, and with force for some, if needed.

  32. Magnus

    Cashcleaner, I think you’re being naive. Most people who build LEGO tanks think that stuff that blows up is engaging, on some level, and most people who build military are ultimately more interested in howitzers than medical evacuation vehicles. It doesn’t mean we like or support wars, but as a rule, you don’t build a LEGO tank with a great big gun without envisioning it in some sort of conflict environment. And nor would a average 8 year old.

    Spencer, remember there’s nothing inherently American about tanks. If LEGO were to do a UCS tank, a T-34 might sell just as well as a Sherman.

    The Peacekeeper idea is interesting, I could see the idea working better (and selling better) as a Space subtheme of sorts. If you’re doing a Military theme, I think kids would expect a conflict-based theme with green tanks, and guys with guns on both sides.

  33. Joz (CPKF)

    …did someone mention “Peace Keepers?” : )

    – now that’s right up my alley… Good one Cashcleaner!

    Everyone: this has been the most satisfying read with thoughtful ideas and well founded opinons – and I don’t know what else I could add – but I want to…

    I really appreciated Magnus’s view on the neutrality factor regarding goodies and baddies. Lego has always been a platform to expand one’s imagination – not just being creative in design – but in character.

    Letting us apply our own thoughts to what ever TLC presented us with in sets is paramount to this. A toy/hobby that (acts a stimuls in) encourages thinking for yourself and understanding perspectives makes it all the more special. Think constructively and be constructive. Good thing to live by.

    For example. I recently recieved some new Castle Lego – with them new Ogres and Trolls. Straight away I thought of allegiances. Are the Crown Knights the goodies and them green folk with fangs the baddies? Yes? No? Sometimes? Swap? …Now in my own Legoverse that adds more personalities and diversity to my pool. Sure I gave them two Ogres a pair BA-M5’s but they’re not baddies. I’ve made them want to help. They’re strangefolk lookin’ – but not evil. I found a persona that I liked and applied it.

    On the flip side I “dis-armed” my Exo-Force Super-Novas (the yellow one from ’07) and turned it into a loader mech. They looks quite fancy with the Lego Tower Crane 7905 and the XXL Crane from ’05.

    Allowing our imagination to be challenged can really broaden our perspectives in life.

    On a slight tangent – the thought of UCS style sets with no ‘figs is a good one – although it would really break my heart. I could see so many people saying well they’ve made the Jet – where’s the pilot? We want the pilot – then we’d settle with our own MoCfigs until a suitable one came out to compliment the set…

    I do want to stress my earlier point (from July 6th) which many of us here have elaborated on (especially Ralph on the 9th). Lego should stay away from a formal dedicated military line. I quite like the challenge of having to think it up myself ang getting by with the set and parts that are available. I enjoy that I can create something using my own noggin’ and if ever a dedicated ‘commecialised’ miltary theme hits the shelves I fear it’ll take away special intangiable thing away from my own imagination.

    Any theme builders would argue that it there is a degree of pride to build something (build in something) that they can call their own.

    I guess I was just thinking (typing) out aloud tonight… and in doing so I feel that whether or not a formal Military Theme appeared I’d only be considering it for the parts and the potential to customize it to my own needs and musings.

  34. Cashcleaner

    Magnus, you’re making it sounds like I’m not a military enthusiast myself. I assure you I am, and as a former reserve armoured soldier (Ontario Regiment, 34th RCAC) I would be over the moon with any sort of LEGO combat vehicle – including something along the lines of an LAV III in its role as a battlefield ambulance or an AEV with bridge layer module attached. There’s no doubt that people love things that go boom, but I think people would also appreciate the vehicle and kit in its entirety. Of course, I do agree that LEGO’s primary market is younger children, not a 28 yo such as myself, so I can concede my perception may be skewed.

  35. Brandon

    I agree with the long-standing policy of anti-war that lego has had. However, I do see the want for military sets and weapons. I also see that with some of the star wars and car sets, with their recommended age levels of 16 , that lego acknowledges that they do have a waning child base but a steadfast adult base which grew up on legos that if they market towards they will have good sales. There is a fascination with military hardware that I think a lot of us have. I think it springs more from that the average lego enthusiast has a love of building and engineering – and that military hardware is often the zenith of such things. So I feel that, like the ferrari, volkswagen, and UCS star wars sets, we should have military sets that are more in the model category than aimed chiefly at minifig scale and the resulting war games mentality. Aimed more towards those who are not wanting to play war but chiefly adore the design of the vehicle. As for subject, I would say they should be the most adored or significant designs – such as the Sherman and Tiger, the A-10, the German u-boat, and such.

  36. chris

    i believe that lego should release military sets here are a few ideas
    mi-24 hind with m1a1 abrams, humvee with soldiers and enemys,
    su-35 and eurofighter dogfight pair, f-15 eagle and iraqi t-54.

  37. chris

    i was joking about da f-15 and t-54. but seiously i think it would be great if lego did a tribute to our boys and gals over there maybe some soldiers distributing food to civilians, a medevac chopper and
    a range of UCS miitary vehicles

  38. GreenLead

    Maybe the best compromise would be for TLC to just introduce a greater variety of Dark Green and Tan parts, and let people decide what they want to do with it.

  39. bow-chicka-bow-wow

    i think there should be modern military legos. Most of the lego sets have viloence in them and it is fantasy violence but it still violence. Lego acctually already produced military legos cowboys and indians infact and thats not viloent? lego may not know but they do use violence in there sets. I disagree about the osama bin landen figure why the hell would they make one hes a terroist leader i wouldn’t mind if they made a fey insurgent (no suicide bombs) but osama bin laden just isnt right. Besides one time i was looking on ebay for army legos and i swear i saw japanese lego sets with that had a swat team. I also have a few sugestions for sets.

    -ranger squad with humvee

    -insurgents with truck vs marines with light tank

    -iraqy market with buildings delta mini figs and insurgents with sniper

    -a uh-60 black hawk helicopter with marines and rangers

    -solidiers giving food 2 cilvilians

    -and insurgent patrol

    (i dont really think theyed like the insurgent thing though)

  40. just another AFOL

    this may just be one more comment on the blog but look back 50 years when lego came out i mean when it FIRST came out before the minifig just standard bricks now think what did they make lego for?what was it MENT to?im sure it wasnt created for making little people slaughter eachother.Even when they had castle all the way back they didnt have people killing eachother in a matter of fact lego spent more time on the architecture than making wacky minifigs attack each other i mean look at this set
    http://shop.lego.com/ByTheme/Product.aspx?p=7094&cn=473&d=70

    copy and paste the link now look at this set

    http://www.bricklink.com/catalogItemPic.asp?S=375-2

    I dont see any orcs trying to chop of peoples heads
    theres a big difference.if lego were to release military sets imagine what that would do to kids what would that turn them into huh?monsters?the next Osama bin Laden?you tell me.Now among us AFOLs its fine but among kids no.I think lego should stick to its pacifist roots

  41. Douche

    W/E last time i checked i saw orks in lego ry to chop peoples heads off also i rember the was a knights lego thing where there were 4 knights an the defended their kingdom from evil knights isnt that violence serously.

  42. bow-chicka-bow-wow

    ….XD kids becoming osama bin laden ….ahahaha…yeah right i….. ahahaha…roflmao…..you you you think kids r gonna become osama bin laden….lol….by the way what is AFOL a f#$king osama lover…ahahaha…megablocks had military things and no one became osama bin laden ….XD….u crack me up….ahahaha….kids becoming osama bin laden ahahaha…ok im done laughing huhhuh i heard lego dosent like people making custom decalls for minifigs and last time i checked lots of companys like megablock make military things action figures also have very many military creations and every time i walk into target i always see the military action figures out of stock look even if lego has fanatsy vilolence its violence and also if u guys think u can escape violence ur wrong humans made violence how do think u can stop that also think about nerf there r a bunch of kids that play nerf, paintball, and airsoft kids have lots of fun with that. Lego that would be just like doing that except theres “no bullets”. And i know m last comments sound stupid. also i think minifigs make lego more fun.

  43. Gambort

    ^ Streams of consciousness are usually good when they have artistic merit. As a means of conveying information they’re largely ineffective.

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