Lego teaches children how to play with guns

October 15, 2008 | By | 21 Replies More

I love basic the concept of Lego. It’s a very clever set of blocks with which you can build almost anything. But going to a Lego store is also a peek into the kind of country America has become.  We are a country of warmongers.

I took each of these photos in the Lego Store on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. For starters, I do want to recognize that Lego makes simple kits that you can use for building anything you want. For instance, here’s a basic starter pack that doesn’t include any guns:

If 280 pieces isn’t enough for you, you can graduate to this 700 piece set. Look at Dad, acting as though he is content building little houses. I know what Dad really wants. He wants his kids to get a little older so that they can build things with guns!

Here’s a hot rod car. But what’s a mere car to a kid?

We need to be inspired by people we see on TV. Hence, Spongebob Squarepants makes a joint appearance with Legos. Now . . . if we only had a gun . . .

A GUN!!! Are you crazy? Why would you need a gun? Because that’s what so many Lego kits include. Guns of all shapes and sizes! Notice the guard in the tower. He has his own Lego gun. I suppose he has it so that he can shoot that guy trying to make an escape. I wonder why they don’t show the mortal injuries that can be inflicted through the use of Lego guns?

It seemed like most of the Lego kits were created with a media celebrity or guns, or both. I’m not denying that there are some Lego sets with either of these, but you’ve seen most of them already, at the top of this post. I’m not really trying to blame the Lego Company. I assume that they’ve tried making peaceful kits without celebrities. I assume, also, that those kits just don’t sell very well. The rest of this post will show you that violence sells, even when that violence is sponsored by Lego.

If you travel to Mars to explore, make sure you bring a space ship with a LOT of GUNS. If you discover life on Mars, shoot it!

I guess I exaggerated when I wrote that most Lego sets have guns. Medieval dudes didn’t have guns, so they have to make do with more traditional forms of violence. What do horses think while dragons fry out their eyeballs? There’s no captions on the box, so maybe this horse doesn’t mind.

And here is the Millennium Falcon. All yours for a tidy price (you can expand any of these photos by clicking on them. I know that the Falcon some very cool guns. Since this toy is all about Star Wars, that tells you about all you need to know. No time for diplomacy. Let’s take off and start firing our guns.

Here’s another agent trying to escape from another agent. Good thing they both have guns, or else it wouldn’t be much of a fight.

There’s a special kind of Lego called Bionicle. These guys seem to lack all semblance of inter-personal skills. What they lack in talking skills, however, they make up for in their fighting skills. As you can see, these guns are especially formidable. I don’t know what these guys are fighting so much about. It’s not like they have girlfriends they they need to protect from each other, or at least I can’t imagine that.  What do these guys do other than fight each other with their weapons? I haven’t a clue.

Here’s how you travel if you’re a Bionicle. It looks like it’s 10% vehicle and 90% guns. That’s important, because you never know when you’re going to have to shoot someone.

Here are yet more Bionicles. Always going at it, those guys.

Ooops. Here’s a kit without guns. Then again, maybe there are concealed guns in those other vehicles. That way, if you lose the auto race, you can shoot the winner.

I’m not totally anti-gun. I don’t trust our government any more and (I can’t believe I’m saying this) it might make the government think twice about imposing martial law that so many citizens have guns. Further, I used to play with guns when I was a kid. I used to play war games all the time, and I certainly didn’t grow up with a love of violence.  I used to “kill” other kids from the neighborhood all the time, and I seem to have come out OK.

Maybe I just don’t have a good memory, but were guns this much the focus regarding toys made 20, 30 and 40 years ago? Again, I’m not blaming Lego. They know what sells and they’re making it. But it gives me pause that SO many products made by a company that ostensibly makes construction toys include guns and other weapons.

I don’t know why I turned out to be relatively anti-war given my background with toy guns. I wonder, though, whether the existence of so many Lego kits with weapons is evidence that American kids think of weapons as the first tool of resort when faced with conflict. I wonder whether such a violence first attitude (reinforced through television, movies and toys) is one reason that so many people scoff at the idea of talking to one’s enemy rather than quickly posturing then engaging in warfare.

For a related post, see Boys Toys.


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Category: American Culture, law and order, Military, Uncategorized, War

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (21)

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  1. Dan Klarmann says:

    I grew up in a gun-free household. Forbidden. Period. I was the only kid on my block who didn't have a cowboy six-shooter, or a cap pistol, or a ray gun. One kid up the block had an actual WWII infantry rifle that his parents let him keep when his brother didn't make it back from 'Nam. That was one heavy piece of metal compared to the toy guns.

    But I did have Lego™. So I could still make a gun when the parents weren't looking. Boys will be boys.

  2. Tim Hogan says:

    Erich, my son was never given what we called "war toys."

    The next thing I saw was the little guy had chewed his PBJ sandwich into a gun shape and was shooting "bad guys."

    Later, Ben was given a cap pistol as a present for his birthday. We talked about the safe use of weapons, and then he shot me dead, about 4,362 times and counting. Ben loves the "agent' Legos, now that he's bored with the Mars Mission, knights, Indiana Jones and Batman series.

    I have been beaten again and again as the "bad guy" and play inventively with Ben to resolve the conflicts peaceably. There are now "tickle rays," "tickle spiders" and a plethora of alternatives which incapacitate the "bad guys" and don't involve killing. Ben then gives the bad guys lectures on being good and we invite them over for dinner. However, Ben warns the now "good guys" that he's watching and his super powers will allow him to capture them again if they are bad. The second time, they go to jail where it's ugly and stinks like daddy's feet after a workout.

    I was in the Scouts when young and we took riflery and marksmanship as a course and for a merit badge. I don't oppose my children learning responsible use of firearms. I don't keep firearms in the house but, have access through relatives who shoot; one of which was an alternate to the US Olympic team. WE haven't fully decided if they'll learn but, mayber soon.

  3. Mobius 118 says:

    I was raised around guns, violence, and whatnot. Movies and videogames were relatively mild, compared to my imagination with GI Joes and Jurassic Park dinosaurs. I never acted out against the other kids, but man…did I have a strong imagination. The old sandbox was a warzone.

    Then I was taught how to shoot. At age 6 I started shooting BB guns under the strict tutelage of my grandfather, then graduated to .22's, then on up it was .30-30s and 12 gauges.

    Not once have I been told that fighting would solve an issue right off the bat. Diplomacy, talking, and peaceful resolution was preferred over fighting, with a violent resolution the very last, last resort.

    Rifle discipline has enhanced my respect for life. So easily can something be snuffed, with the pull of a trigger. What I see is that parents don't instill that kind of thought into the kids learning how to shoot. Bang, and he's dead. No more bad guy. But did they ever think about the 'bad' guys family?

  4. Viaggio says:

    I am seven years old and I think kids should do whatever they want. You maybe think I am crazy, but I have played with my friend Evan and I have always played with toy guns. I even like a song that Johny Cash did of he shot a man in Reno, although his mother told him not to.

    Well, I can't believe that you would be saying that. I am seven and since you put a castle lego set, I wanted to say I have one and it includes weapons and I don't really like what you're saying. It's funny, but say hello to my little friend because I've watched Scar Face about nine bizillion times so I think that is just crazy stuff because guns and other weapons don't be in trouble.

    Now, let me tell you a story that my mother read. It was about a man who thought that another man riding in a truck with the Confederate flag was riding around and the other man thought it was the sign of the Dukes of Hazzard and he only heard of the Civil War one time. Now that is bad, but for people who want to defend themselves or even lego kits like bionics who like you said didn't have girlfriends, so I am all right.


    My name is Viaggio, like I have told you before. The End.

  5. Scott says:

    It's a real pathetic stretch to blame the worlds problems on LEGO guns. Look at parenting skills. Try another outlet next time. It's really sad that someone attacks what they do not know. LEGO is a great mind builder. Look at the test and studies about it. If you don't like the gun don't buy the product or take the gun out. Build a bridge and get over it.

  6. Jimmy says:

    Dude, what the heck is your problem? Take a look at LEGO's "guns". They one's that you've shown us resemble two rods glued together with a pathetic square for a trigger. Seriously, does that piece of junk look even remotely like a HK G36? No. M4 Carbine? No. AK-47? No. FAMAS G2? No. It does not look anything like a real gun. They're just toys, for crying out loud. If LEGO started manufacturing replicas, I'd probably agree with you, but they seem content with using funny little pieces. Please reconsider your position in this. It's ridiculous to think that LEGO promotes weapons and war.

  7. BrickArms says:

    Jimmy, Lego has been edorsing guns ever since the first Wild West set was sold, way back in the 90's. Do you remember their carbine and 6-shot revolver? They are still making and selling them today. Batman sets contain a replica Tommy Gun and Uzi facsimile, and all of the new Agents line, as well as all Lego Star Wars set containing Clone Troopers, contain minifig-scale weapons of various types. Even the latest Lego Indiana Jones sets have soldiers wielding modern-ish rifles and pistols. Those sets sell very well, and so far, Lego has shown no reluctance to include weapons in all of them.

  8. ninjun09 says:

    He's nuts. Lego isn't telling us "Oh, children, you should do as the minifigs and carry guns around all day long." Don't you say: "Oh, but they're hinting it.". It's plastic, for Pete's sake! In Lego comics, the guns shoot pops or at the least, simply zap you. If the guy gets hit, not a drop of blood or even molten plastic. Who cares if Bionicles have Skydak Launchers? If Lego started putting blood and gore in there, I would start worrying, but please! RELAX!!!!!!!

  9. logan says:

    I personally think your pretty right about that much. when I found this article i was actually look at pictures to build a gun out of lego…. when i was young i would always find something to make a gun out of with some imagination. i dont think lego is really that bad its mostly the media. the media puts these thing that are completely not true. like 2012 1999 and many more apocoliptic things. lego isnt really to blame its the media and lego is making what sells

  10. AussieBoy says:

    Howdy, your all looking at the wrong end of the stick, the lego is being made this way because of demand, if you wanna fight the issue have a go at the movies, parenting attitudes and dispicable lack of gun control in your country. Maybe if the kids weren't used to hearing about shootings in schools, on the street and every other place in your country then they wouldn't be drawn to the concept of guns. Fight the addiction, not the dealers.

  11. nathan says:

    Lego even says they have a no weapon policy but look at all the sets with guns,cannons catipults crossbows swords and all that kinda stuff i donk know why they are doing it but it confuses me

  12. ryan says:

    hello im ryan i am 11 years old i think is guns can be good though kids need to know that guns can be dangourus at times .i have legos when i was like 7 and they involed guns i even play call of duty waw,mw2 they shouldent be interduced to younger kids like 6 or 7 years of age and shouldent be a s s es really its the parents responsibility to control what they kids play in games and in toys i even own airsoft guns and my dad says for me to always were the gogles or mask and never shoot kids unless their in an airsoft wars

  13. Bryan says:

    This is stupid. I'm a ten year old boy. Next thing you know you'll be mad at a guy holding a stick because he could kill someone with it. Your a saftey freak.

  14. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    I agree with AussieBoy.

    When I was a kid, a lot of the parents got started on the idea of banning toy weapons of every sort, including every sort of toy gun, and knife. What the kids did was substitute something else, like a stick, as their gun. When I was 8, I put together a "buck Rogers" style toy ray gun from bits of junk left in the neighbors trash.

    The Lego weapons are a symptom of a culture that uses violence to achieve some of its goals. The problem is that too much of the media is very unrealistic in portraying the results and consequences of violence.

    Violence in real life is messing disgusting and often barf-inducing. On TV and in the movies, the good guy shoots the bad guy, and the bad guy falls down. sometimes the baddie bleeds a bit. The police show up, pat good guy on the back and thank him for permanently taking care of bad guy.

    In the real world, good guy shoots bad guy, (bad guy is just as likely to shoot good guy, but lets assume good guy wins this one). Get bad guy in the head with a 9MM. the bullet makes a pretty good size hole going in, on its way out the back of the head, it makes a much bigger hole, taking out the back of the skull and splattering everything for about 25 feet behind bad guy with brains, blood and bone chips. Bad guy (what left of him) falls to the ground and his heart continuing to beet for a little while dumps his remaining blood into a puddle that spreads out for about 3 feet in every direction.

    The cops arrive, and immediately arrest good guy, stick him in jail for murder. If good guy is lucky and gets a very good lawyer, there is a slim chance he will avoid a being in prison for the rest of his life.

    in the media, if good guy gets shot, it is never fatal, because he's the main character, and he quietly "Takes it like a man"

    In real life, it don't happen that way.

    Our culture trivializes violence, and that makes it acceptable. To most preteens guns don't seem as dangerous as they really are. At that age guns are cool.

    Lego has many things that are far cooler than guns, like kits which can be used to build mechanical things and even working robots with an on-board computer.

    Much cooler than a bunch of little sticks that represent weapons.

  15. LegoFreak83 says:

    I think you are just a tad over-reacting. Not every Lego set has guns, and the ones that do there is a place for them. Lego does not glorify the Army or Marines or combat like GI Joe or Micro Machines Military. It does not glorify horror or sick twisted things like Mighty Max or Spawn… want to go after people corrupting kids how about you target those brands!

    Lego's idea always has and always will be "Imagine" and create! Yes you can build a gun with Legos, but with will of human mind you can take anything and create evil with it. (A-Bomb anyone) With that being said let's be real…..Star Wars was created by Lucus Arts and it's ideally for OLDER kids and adults. You want to take out the guns and weapons….it's not exactly Star Wars w/out the blasters and light sabers. Castle theme….well sorry they had medieval weapons back then they didn't fight with their hands people! Same for pirates….how do you envision pirates without cannons, blunderbuss, and cutlass??? Wild West….well sorry people again they had six-shooters and shotguns….it's HISTORY!

    Now in regards to ryan and especially Viaggio someone is not doing a good job in parenting! Viaggio you are 7 years old why on Earth would your parents let you watch Scarface….definitely not appropriate for your age. ryan Call of Duty is rated M-17 as in Mature….again I don't know why a 7 year old is watching Scarface and why an 11 year old is playing a Mature game. If you want to blame someone for violence in the U.S. blame the parents for not being home and allowing their 7 year old to watch R-rated movies and play mature games. I'd give my kid a Castle or Agents Lego set any day over letting them watch a movie like Scarface or play Call of Duty which is violent.

    Lego do not teach kids how to play with guns. If you don't like sets that have weapons have them use the City, or Architecture sets….or you can tell your kid to play with Winnie The Pooh till he's 18…..oh and throw out your TV while your at it because you see far worse on their and has a bigger influence on your child. Erich, there are bigger fish to fry than Lego to blame violence on, start with the media!

  16. Matthew says:

    NO, I don’t personally believe that the LEGO company is to blame, I blame parenting and the community. I’m actually in the process of writing a poem about that. ” A Child’s imagination is a product of their environment.” As unfortunate as it may be, if a kid is making a gun and then pointing it at people and pretending to shoot what does that say about the community? What I can’t stand is the phrase, ” boys will be boys kid will be kids.” BS. Parents, if you are allowing your kids to walk around the house playing all of these games that deal with brutally shooting people or even shooting people in general something is wrong. What happened to watching barney LOL. Now i know that types of violence are everywhere and there is really no way from stopping it from happening, but if you see kids pretending to shoot each other and you laugh it off, im very much disappointed in you. its not okay because then they grow up and start making the building of legos into guns a reality. next thing you know they are either dead or in jail. #period! Media has soooo much influence in the way kids think, these tv shows are sending subliminal messages that you pick up when you are older etc etc. It just saddens me that when a child first picks up legos a gun is the first thing he/she will build. #imdone! What happened to building the CAR, the boat, a house!

  17. Justin Pyne says:

    As a fifteen year old LEGO fan myself, I’m sure I can say that this discussion is outright ridiculous. There’s no need to target a toy company for including guns in their products. Among all toy companies, such as HASBRO, Megabloks, etc. the LEGO company seems to be doing just fine with their anti-war policy. Here is a perfect example: In the recent ‘Dino’ set theme, the “guns” which the main protagonists are wielding certainly appear to shoot tranquilizer darts or something of the sort.

  18. Monica says:

    You betcha toy guns were a huge focus 20, 30, 40 years ago. Ever heard of the game “cowboys and Indians”? There have been studies that show rough play is good for boys. Let’s stop emasculating little boys and let them be kids and have fun.

  19. travis da menace says:

    Sorry for my English, I’m from Mexico. Toys, games and recently video games have always the same purpose: “get children into a social simulation of life” as a playful learning. There always have been guns in toy industries as baby dolls. Because games are important to teach kids their social and also working roles in a a specific society. With toys, a kid can learn some moral values, including WAR, CONSUME, CONQUER, NATIONALISM. A huge industry has grown focused on children to replace school’s education system, but that’s not new. Video games are the success of hundreds of years performing a global education system. We know school isn’t the perfect place to learn: 1. Not everybody can get into a school, poor countries are designated that way because of their lack of institutional education. 2. Toys aren’t for every children, in this country; there are more children working that playing LEGO.

    We see, that this consumer system and transnational industries have created the perfect education system, based on playful and hyper-realistic experience we know as video games. Not any child can get a video game, same as school, just rich countries will enjoy this great change in education. Video games have the same purpose: Teach about social roles, like Farmville, Sims, or even a violent video game–teach a kid about who he needs to kill to protect his nation values or security, based on a cheap drama.

  20. Tom w says:

    Uh I’m pretty shure they tried diplomacy in starwars and it was the empire that struck first

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