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Osama bin Lego, apparently
December 11, 2008 1:35 AM   Subscribe

So, for about two years now, Will Chapman of BrickArms has been creating a wide variety of custom Lego minifigures, ranging from World War II soldiers (both Axis and Allies) to a certain copyrighted British Secret Service agent. One of Chapman's more popular creations is "Mr. White," a "bandit" brimming with weapons (including an AK-47 and RPG) and grenades. This week, the Sun ran a story. Then Fox News ran another.

A BrickArms representative responds on The Brothers Brick blog, then responds again.

Oh, and just for fun, here's Michelle Malkin's take.
posted by hifiparasol (30 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow. Imagine if these Muslims groups were as vocal in their criticism of actual jihadists as they are in expressing their “disgust” with toy terrorists

Wow. Imagine if strawmen were as strawman in their strawmen of actual strawmen as they are expressing strawman with strawmen.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:54 AM on December 11, 2008 [17 favorites]


Bond with brown hair?!? That's worse than blonde! (Not blondest)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:34 AM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


What awesome minifigs. The controversy just shows the controverts to be the usual twits they are, but the figures are sweet.

Can he do all the US political figures? LegObama would sell thousands, if only to MeFi members.

And then I google "LegoBama". And here we go Legobama.
posted by sien at 3:16 AM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


They also include a Nazi major, bearing the chilling SS insignia, and a stormtrooper brandishing two grenade launchers.

Stay classy, Brickarms.
posted by chuckdarwin at 3:19 AM on December 11, 2008


It's funny how the controverts get so excited about the depiction of a 'bandit' that may resemble a muslim guerilla, but the guys who invaded and conquered most of Europe, they're fine.
posted by sien at 3:19 AM on December 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


"As a parent myself, I'm going to teach my children respect for the law and respect for each and every community. These are the lessons parents should be giving to their children — not lessons about weapons and violence," [said Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation.]

Yeah, he sounds like a really unreasonable guy.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:23 AM on December 11, 2008


And yet, the NAACP never responded to all the letters I wrote them twenty years ago about this set.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:24 AM on December 11, 2008


How did it slip people's notice that this Bandit is yellow, like the Simpsons, not brown, like Bart's friend Bashir, or Apu.

At least in the case of Lando Calrissian, brown lego figures do exist.
posted by explosion at 4:26 AM on December 11, 2008


If I was eight, this Brickarms guy would be getting all my allowance right now, because making Lego armies look "meaner" and "less goofy" was a big part of my childhood.

(Did anyone else turn the heads backwards on the space guys so that they had a blank yellow face instead of a stupid smiley? No? Just me?)

I really admire the quality of this guy's work, though it seems that the Osama product re-used three... um... pieces from the Total Recall set.
posted by rokusan at 4:32 AM on December 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing writes "Wow. Imagine if strawmen were as strawman in their strawmen of actual strawmen as they are expressing strawman with strawmen."

Yo dawg, I heard you like straw men, so I put a straw man in yo straw men, so you can refute a straw man while you refute straw men.
posted by orthogonality at 5:20 AM on December 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


(Did anyone else turn the heads backwards on the space guys so that they had a blank yellow face instead of a stupid smiley? No? Just me?)

YESSS! I DID THIS TOO! Yet another case of that kind of synchronicity that happens when you share the same things with with random people...
posted by suedehead at 5:54 AM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Let's outlaw wargames too, because if you play the Nazis, then you'll turn into one.

My son loves Brickarms. Also, note that in the Lego Indiana Jones sets none of the Nazis are identified as such. In my opinion, pretending that Nazis and Islamic terrorists don't exist is the more dangerous road to take.
posted by mecran01 at 6:34 AM on December 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Like kids aren't having huge Lego battles of terrorists vs. ninjas vs. pirates vs. spacemen already anyways. I know I did.

Also, you can make a sweet android by using one of those small cylindrical pieces in place of the standard Lego head.
posted by erpava at 6:44 AM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


LEGO posts are awesome.

I didn't turn heads backwards but I did use the small cylindrical pieces like erpava did, and you can put a helmet on it as well. Also, since you usually end up with lots of extra heads you can modify them with hexacto and/or paint to get all sorts of nifty results. Like camo-dude, and scar-face, and ... yeah, I miss LEGO.
posted by Vindaloo at 6:51 AM on December 11, 2008


What awesome minifigs. The controversy just shows the controverts to be the usual twits they are, but the figures are sweet.


Why thank... oh.
posted by minifigs at 7:17 AM on December 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


We always turned the minifig heads around in the helmets to get rid of the smiley faces, since you couldn't have a realistic scene of a space cruiser smashed into a castle with heads and other body parts strewn around if everybody was lying about smiling as happy as could be.

Then again, we also stuck lots of other awesome things onto the necks of the minifigs. We had dudes like Whip Head, the Rat, and Cement Block (gray bricks for a head, gray bricks attached to each foot and also stuck on each hand.) If he hit you, you sure as hell wouldn't be smiling cause you'd have no damn teeth!
posted by Spatch at 8:01 AM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow. Imagine if strawmen were as strawman in their strawmen of actual strawmen as they are expressing strawman with strawmen.

Yo dawg, I heard you like strawmen so we put a strawman in your strawman so you can strawman while you strawman.

posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:04 AM on December 11, 2008


Also, you can make a sweet android by using one of those small cylindrical pieces in place of the standard Lego head.

I did the same thing. Trans-red cylinder + helmet = Cylon centurion. :D

In time, however, LEGO did see fit to give us a proper android head.

In my opinion, pretending that Nazis and Islamic terrorists don't exist is the more dangerous road to take.

My sentiments exactly. Also, Brickarms doesn't really market to children. It's a small business created to cater more to the teen/adult hobbyists who desire more realistic accessories. (insert something about NEERRRRRRDS here)


(P.S. Hi everyone, I've been reading Mefi for a few years now but never bothered to register. Since I'm a LEGO fan and there have been a couple of LEGO threads lately, I figured I'd join. I will try not to embarrass myself too much.)
posted by Fleebnork at 8:32 AM on December 11, 2008


I really don't know why I haven't bought some of the weapon packs from BrickArms yet.
posted by paisley henosis at 9:04 AM on December 11, 2008


I really don't know why I haven't bought some of the weapon packs from BrickArms yet.

Probably because the 300 gladiator pieces are always out of stock. :(
posted by T.D. Strange at 11:31 AM on December 11, 2008


So if I understand this thread correctly, Xzibit really wants to put a strawman in my strawman so I can strawman while I strawman.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:42 AM on December 11, 2008


Can someone explain to me how Brickarms is allowed to make LEGO-like pieces while at the same time LEGO is distancing itself from Brickarms? I thought LEGO was pretty vigorous about protecting its copyrights and IP and shit, why is this not an issue here?
posted by PercussivePaul at 12:20 PM on December 11, 2008


If you look here it seems pretty clear from the disclaimer that it's not a toy to be played with, but to be displayed. Adds a little more absurdity to the whole controversy.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 12:22 PM on December 11, 2008


blank face?! of course!

Although we would just scrape the smiley face right off the head generating a blank yellow cylinder.


the little lego people were so small they weren't much of a threat. Their blaster gauntlets only had a range of 3 hands and their accuracy only hit our heroes on a 18-20. (unless the villain had a mind link up and was operating them in drone mode)

My brother and I had such a complex RPG/Mini game when we were kids.
posted by Megafly at 12:29 PM on December 11, 2008


Can someone explain to me how Brickarms is allowed to make LEGO-like pieces while at the same time LEGO is distancing itself from Brickarms? I thought LEGO was pretty vigorous about protecting its copyrights and IP and shit, why is this not an issue here?

Brickarms doesn't actually make pieces that are copies of anything LEGO makes. They simply make items that are compatible with LEGO figures.

It'd be a pretty tough case for LEGO to make that nobody can produce assault rifles whose handles are the appropriate diameter to fit in a minifigure's hand.
posted by Fleebnork at 12:43 PM on December 11, 2008


Yet the "minifigs" are clearly identical to the little dudes LEGO makes, enough that it could cause brand confusion, no?
posted by PercussivePaul at 2:36 PM on December 11, 2008


My favorite thing to do with Legos is making towers of Weasley heads. I think we have about 20 of them. I also like replacing the minifig heads with the transparent red torch flames. I exasperate my children.
posted by Biblio at 3:29 PM on December 11, 2008


Yet the "minifigs" are clearly identical to the little dudes LEGO makes, enough that it could cause brand confusion, no?

BrickArms Custom Minifigs begin their life as actual LEGO minifigs, then undergo a transformation.

These are more sensibly seen as remixes, or mash-ups.
posted by dhartung at 4:28 PM on December 11, 2008


My girlfriend recently took over my Lego collection in order to make a gallows, complete with trapdoor and a minifig hung with a chain.

I suspect that this is the sexiest thing in the whole world, but I can't be totally sure it's not the exact opposite.
posted by hifiparasol at 4:54 PM on December 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yet the "minifigs" are clearly identical to the little dudes LEGO makes, enough that it could cause brand confusion, no?

What dhartung said. In addition:

Brickarms doesn't actually make the minifigs. They merely customize stock LEGO minifigs using stickers and weapons.

Brand confusion would only occur if people don't read... which admittedly is probably what began this entire molehill's transformation into a mountain. However, it's much less sensational a news story if it's just "some guy on the internet made a terrorist figure".

In any case, LEGO is fairly tolerant of custom sets and accessories that fans create. In most cases it's evangelism for the brand, and 99% of the time it's positive, and LEGO probably sees it as free advertising. In cases like this, they simply state that it's unofficial and not connected to the LEGO brand.
posted by Fleebnork at 9:18 AM on December 12, 2008


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