A German father is campaigning online to stop Lego-style toy Nazi soldiers being sold on Amazon.
Manuel Hegel's petition says the toys "represent officers, soldiers etc of the Waffen-SS and thereby trivialise National Socialism".
The toys are sold by a German firm, CustomBricks, and Lego says they do not comply with Lego's own values.
A Lego statement said the Danish toy firm "does not in any way sponsor or endorse the product - on the contrary".
This could be an interesting ride, especially for other German soldier custom parts sold through ebay and bricklink. I wonder if those sellers will have to stop German buyers seeing their items.
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But then you've also got the minority of nutters for whom this is a legitimation of Nazism and an opportunity to show support by buying/displaying merchandise.
And somewhere in between is the average buyer who just buys (maybe for their kids) without looking closely enough to see that they are Nazis (or that they are customs/clones).
Honestly, as a history student I'm not 100% sure the 'trivialisation' of National Socialism is entirely the fault of the toys. I'd be inclined to see it as a broader societal issue which (particularly in Germany, as I understand it) makes the Nazi past basically 'taboo' and thus fetishises it (ie, makes it more attractive because it is forbidden). I think the answer really is a more open and rigorous examination of the past in the education system which would stop people from innocently becoming 'accidental Nazis' like the guy from the petition is afraid of and which would take away the attraction to the illicit that they currently hold. But that's my history student opinion!
In reality, should Nazi figures be available? Maybe, but it should be very clear that they are not official Lego (I think Lego's attitude of avoiding history/politics is perfectly reasonable - ignoring Indiana Jones for the time being!), nor should they be marketed as toys - the problem therein being that they already are toys by very nature of being Lego!
Hopefully this will be worked through in a way which benefits Europe's relationship with the past (I genuinely mean this - how we relate to the past is important in terms of our national identities and public perceptions swing national and international policy decisions) without negatively affecting the 'legitimate'* custom sellers.
*I know that's contentious, but as far as I'm concerned, clearly labelled customs which do not replicate Lego's own lines and products are fine, but outright clones aren't.
Growing up in the US in the 70's, I built a lot of plastic model kits from Airfix, Tamiya, Hasegawa, Monogram, Revell, etc. There were kits for planes, ships, and armor for both Axis and Allies. Only building one side would have been pretty boring compared to building both and making dioramas.
If they weren't or didn't sell them there, then there's no problem
I don’t think replacing the Nazi brand of fascism with the Liberal brand of fascism is much of an improvement.
I'm not sure that any toys should ever include such emblems, and I would be very concerned why anyone would want to MOC a Nazi scene or model anyway?
Interestingly, COBI very often supply models with Polish and Russian stickers to allow the purchaser to decide on the emblems, presumably because of the sensitivities of that part of the world, but that's another story....
I don't see much difference in doing a WW2 scene compared to, for example, an English civil war scene, an American civil war scene, a Roman battle, a Spartan battle, etc.
Therefore I would argue that the report is suggesting that a German Wehrmacht soldier is the same as a German Waffen SS soldier, which of course is not true as far as I understand, especially as I have a relative that was forced into the German Army late in the war and ended up fighting for the Allies and he definately wasn't a Nazi!
Unfortunately, military subjects like these often seem to make up the vast bulk of customized items, due to the large vacuum left by Lego's own opposition to depicting realistic and modern weapons of war. It's a big part of why I have little interest in a lot of custom items, since so much of it represents subjects I'd rather keep separate from my Lego hobby.
Just because you do doesn't mean everyone else should have to. Here is a CLASSIC EXAMPLE of how "well-intended" censorship and attempted prior restraint on expression is just total BS:
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2012/01/lego-concentration-camp-warsaw-museum.htmlLegos are more than "just a toy". They are a perfectly acceptable medium for producing art, as several on here have commented in other threads (people complaining about others ripping off their art/MOCs). They should be treated as such. Coloured pencils can be used to draw Nazi emblems too - you don't see governments around the world trying to get them banned or confiscating them.
Here is another example of censorship going off the rails - catering to those who might "offended" by what someone does with their Legos:
Lego announced Wednesday it’s reversing a conversational policy it had in place.
Previously, the company asked customers buying its toy bricks in bulk what they were using them for, although that will no longer be the case, the BBC reported.
The reason for the change has to do with Chinese artist and political dissident, Ai Weiwei, who accused Lego of censorship in October when the company wouldn’t sell bricks to him for an art project. He ultimately ended up using fake bricks and made Lego’s refusal public.
But the company said Wednesday it didn’t want to implement guidelines that “could result in misunderstandings or be perceived as inconsistent,” according to a statement published on its website.
The statement continues, “As of January 1st, the LEGO Group no longer asks for the thematic purpose when selling large quantities of LEGO bricks for projects. Instead, the customers will be asked to make it clear—if they intend to display their LEGO creations in public—that the LEGO Group does not support or endorse the specific projects.”
If LEGO wanted to be selective about whom they sell bulk product, using a criteria that included the intended subject matter, I would understand. I much prefer their current position. It's easier to reiterate that using the product as a medium of expression does not mean the company endorses the work. I think most people understand the distinction.
(And I'd be highly critical of anyone that would blame LEGO or find them responsible for pieces of independently produced art. Much like blaming Krylon for graffiti problems.)
Not to mention the fact that the swastika was around LONG before the Nazis were. Better to RECLAIM IT than to consign it to the forces of evil.
First of all, I literally never suggested any sort of censorship. I was merely expressing an opinion about how the presence of these sorts of items in the community is alienating and discomforting.
My point about how these products make me uneasy is that "Nazi-lovers" don't always "proclaim themselves". For every out-and-proud Nazi there are probably at least 10 who might sympathize with Nazi ideology in private while publically couching that interest in "socially acceptable" displays like a passion for WW2 history. This is, again, coming from someone who grew up in the heart of the Confederacy, where a great deal of armchair "historians" preach Lost Cause revisionism that downplays the role of slavery, in the same way as some Nazi sympathizers downplay the Holocaust while talking up Nazi Germany for military might. At conventions, it's often hard to tell what a builder's motivations are. Are they just an enthusiast of history or military technology? Are they celebrating Allied victory, or is it something more sinister? The answers aren't always obvious, and rightfully or wrongfully, it generally makes me want to give the military tables and the people who sit there a pretty wide berth.
And as for the sellers, I have to wonder... do they ever have second thoughts about what they're selling and how it will be used? Or are they just happy to provide a product regardless of their audience? I know where Lego stands on it, and the artwork you shared is a perfect example. The issue with it goes beyond the subject matter and the product used to create it—it is labeled and described in such a way as to make it sound like Lego was actively ENDORSING that use of their product, not merely selling bricks independently of the artist's intention. There's a reason that even now that Lego has taken a more laissez-faire approach to bulk purchases by artists, their policies about the use of their logo in fan-created models has NOT been relaxed.