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Parents don’t usually expect to be horrified when checking on their children at playtime. However, Mahnun Mat Isa, a Malaysian schoolteacher, got just that when she saw her son’s toys. In his hands: a minifigure, similar to those from Lego, resembling an ISIS soldier.
Falcon Commandos vs. ISIS
A Chinese manufacturer not associated with Lego produced this toy as part of an unlicensed series called “Falcon Commandos.” This series revolves around a group of military characters who ride in dune buggies and wield assault weapons. This seems uncontroversial enough, unless one considers that Lego itself avoids producing military figures.
The enemies included with the group are the parts making the headlines. Naturally, these army men must fight a modern threat. The manufacturer’s idea: turban-wearing, rifle-toting men of the desert. They even have black flags with the words “Allah” and “Muhammad” inside white circles. Oh, and a bloody severed head is among the pieces. Pretty weird for a toy whose minifigures have interchangeable heads, but it’s an ISIS trademark.
The sets do not seek to glorify the terror organization. After all, the company named the series for ISIS’s enemies, the Falcon Commandos. However, Mat Isa and news outlets worldwide remain distressed at toy depictions of terrorists being sold to children. Malaysia’s population is more than 60% Muslim. People fear that such a thing could come off as promoting such extremist terrorism to an audience as impressionable as kids. That’s why in an interview with the Malaysian news website Berita Harian, Mat Isa said, “I ask the authorities to not freely allow the entry of toys that touch on religious sensitivities in this country.”
Of course, unlicensed Lego knock-offs are nothing new in Asia. Sluban, Decool, Hela, and other companies have been flooding the market with imitations of varying quality for a long time now. However, the implication of involvement with this product prompted the Lego company to release an official statement of their own. Spokesperson Camilla Pedersen told the news site RT, “The product is not a LEGO® product – nor are the bricks in the set LEGO bricks. As a company dedicated to inspiring and developing children, we would naturally never make a product like this.”
[Note: a little research seemed to indicate that the company behind the sets is named Legcool. However, my only source for this is a website that actually sells the products. I don’t want to give the impression that I or Trill! Magazine endorse this illegal enterprise. Therefore, I refuse to link it here.]
For less horrifying Lego-related news, see this article about a fan recreation of the Red Keep from Game of Thrones.