Why doesn't LEGO® make military sets?

Why doesn't LEGO® make military sets?

Many fans of LEGO® wonder the same question: Why doesn't LEGO® make any military aircrafts, tanks, or boats? For many people it is definitely a black hole in LEGO®'s catalog. To answer this question, we have to go back to the 1960s.

What was LEGO® afraid of?

LEGO® was introduced in the US market in 1962. The company avoided producing military sets so the kids wouldn't associate LEGO® with warfare, in this case, the Vietnam War.

They went as far as not releasing any green pieces, except for those for the bases and trees, so they couldn't be used to create MOCs of tanks.

LEGO Ideas guidelines

Image credit: LEGO®

LEGO® has continued with this policy up until now. In 2010 LEGO® talked about it in their “Guideline for weapons and conflict in LEGO® experiences”:

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.

LEGO® Ideas also has a list of topics in their guidelines that won't be considered for production, specifically #8:

Warfare or war vehicles in any modern or present-day situation, or national war memorials.

Accepted military themes for LEGO®

 LEGO Starwars box latericius

There is an obvious exception to the military topic: Star Wars and other fantasy themes such as Indiana Jones, DC Universe, Marvel, Batman, cowboys, or vikings.

In fact, one of LEGO®'s first licenses was Star Wars, which has the word "War" in the title. The company argues that if it's fantasy it's ok.

However, this raises the legitimate question: Is there really a difference between the violence of a galaxy far, far away and war on Earth?

LEGO V-22 Osprey set

V-22 Osprey. Image credit: LEGO®

In 2020, LEGO® cancelled its LEGO Technic V-22 Osprey set, only a few days before its release date. The kit was a licensed model of the Bell Boeing V-22 Ospray tiltrotor aircraft used by the US military and the Japanese Self-Defense Forces.

The LEGO® version was a search and rescue version of the Osprey, but it triggered a severe protest from the German Peace Society. The few sets that had already been sold now resell for prices as high as $1,000.

LEGO® military alternatives

Cobi 2986 Red Baron featured

Cobi Red Baron set.

LEGO® avoiding real military sets presents a unique opportunity for LEGO® alternative brands. There are several brands like TENTE, Mould King, or Sluban creating military sets including tanks, fighter jets, artillery, helicopters, etc.

The Polish brand Cobi creates officially licensed sets for Sherman, Sikorsky, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Panzer, and more. Check out our collection of military sets to learn more.

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Guerras actuales no, pero sets medievales con armas sí

Alfonso Victoria Marín

Hey Keith, it depends. Nowadays there are alternative brands as good as the real deal. Check out Cobi, the Spanish TENTE, or Mould King. Their military sets are great, and the quality of the bricks is essentially like LEGO’s.

Sachi Serrano

To be fair though are these sets really as good as genuine Lego?

Keith Moorcroft

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