Lego's V-22 Osprey Program Is Canceled After Anti-War Protests


Despite being ready to hit shelves, at least one item from Lego's new line of Technic kits is being pulled: the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey helicopter. The kit is a casualty of complaints from the anti-war group German Peace Society -- United War Resisters (DFG-VK).

The kits were scheduled to go on sale Aug. 1 and had already been shipped to retail outlets.

Lego has long avoided making realistic military and conflict-based kits, as part of an unwritten rule (which was actually codified in 2010):

"The basic aim is to avoid realistic weapons and military equipment that children may recognize from hot spots around the world and to refrain from showing violent or frightening situations when communicating about Lego products. At the same time, the purpose is for the Lego brand not to be associated with issues that glorify conflicts and unethical or harmful behavior."

The company said in a statement that it believes the V-22 Osprey Technic kit violated its longtime values:

"The Lego Technic Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey was designed to highlight the important role the aircraft plays in search-and-rescue efforts. While the set clearly depicts how a rescue version of the plane might look, the aircraft is 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."

The company received a petition from the DFG-VK as part of the anti-war group's "Love Bricks! Hate War!" campaign.

"Lego has exceeded our expectations," Michael Schulze von Glaßer, executive director of the DFG-VK, wrote in a statement. "We urged Lego to not enter into any cooperation with defense contractors and to abstain from equivalent military sets in the future."

DFG-VK's petition insisted the V-22 Osprey was a violation of the company's own values, pointing out the aircraft is being used in wars in Mali, Yemen and elsewhere.

Crew members refuel an A V-22 Osprey before a night mission in central Iraq, 2008. (U.S. Navy/Chief Petty Officer Joe Kane)

The V-22 is a multi-mission aircraft that is used for more than combat operations. The dealbreaker for Lego is that the aircraft is used exclusively by military forces around the world, including the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force and Japanese Self-Defense Forces. Some countries are in talks to acquire the airframe for civilian purposes, but none has yet purchased it.

That's the dealbreaker for DFG-VK and, ultimately, Lego.

"We appreciate that some fans who were looking forward to this set may be disappointed, but we believe it's important to ensure that we uphold our brand values," the Lego statement reads.

Some of the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey sets have been sold at retail outlets, which makes the kit a rare find for the avid Lego collector. Some of the most rare can fetch prices of around $15,000.

Time to get to the toy store.

-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

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