LEGO Indiana Jones Videogame Will Be Nazi-Free

According to Computer & Videogames reading of EDGE magazine (go internet!) the LEGO Indiana Jones games with be sans swastika, just like the LEGO sets. Developer Traveller’s Tales says that LEGO has replaced the Nazis with “an anonymous genocidal, occultist, trenchcoat-wearing master-race.”

On the one hand I get it: LEGO is a Danish company and Europeans are understandably more touchy about representing the Reich in pop culture (and it’s a safe business decision, besides). On the other hand, if they were fine in the movie and the movie is fine for kids, what’s the big deal?

Lego Indy: First concrete details [ComputerAndVideogames.com]

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23 Responses to LEGO Indiana Jones Videogame Will Be Nazi-Free

  1. Anonymous says:

    Actually Lego has had guns for some time. I recall having pirate-themed sets (this would be in the late ’80s or early ’90s?) that had long guns of the musket or blunderbuss sort, and IIRC pistols as well. No, they’re not modern guns, but they’re definitely guns. Also I recall spring-loaded cannons, which would seem to count as guns as well. You can’t exactly have a pirate theme without guns.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It seems that almost all my fellow commenters are missing one HUGE difference:

    Watching Nazis in a movie is exactly that, you watch them, the story is fixed, they get beaten at the end and everything is good.

    However, in a video game and with physical LEGO sets the level of interactivity is much different. Here, kids get to pick their characters, and nothing stops them from picking the evil Nazi guy and letting him kick Indy’s butt. The same applies to the video game: Where it is fun in the Lego Star Wars version to play Darth Vader or the Emperor, you just don’t want your kid to run around impersonating a Nazi officer.

    Agreed, for today’s kiss the significance of a Nazi officer is probably minimal and obviously this is a discussion driven by adults with a much stronger opinion, but I still don’t see what the big deal is with removing the Nazi elements from the bad guys. It doesn’t make them any less bad, at least for the kids.

    Imagine if there was a Lego Iraq set. Would you want your kid to play with a little Saddam figurine, or little Jihad or Taliban fighter figures? I didn’t think so.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Smart and obvious move for lego, they would be idiots to do otherwise.

  4. Anonymous says:

    LEGO won’t do nazis, ever, just never going to happen. They just started “real” guns for themes last year and were still producing different sets for Europe vs. NA (the dinosaur line was very different for each).

    As for how a LEGO set is different from the movie, I imagine the Jewish parent whose child got an Indiana Jones LEGO set for their birthday and as its LEGO, they simply let their kid play with no further examination as LEGO has a very trusted brand for children’s toys, among the best. Grandma and grandpa come over for dinner and out of no where, the kid pulls out his little nazi figurine and starts marching it around the mashed potatoes. A major freakout rightly occurs, and LEGO gets some realllllly bad publicity (the fake nazi set from several years back is a good example – and it was made by an artist – it was not good for LEGO).

    It’s just not worth it, I doubt anyone who was going to buy the sets won’t because they lack the swastika, but a boycott would be guaranteed if they did.

    Other important LEGO news also includes Wal-mart Canada dropping LEGO completely as the price discrepancy between US and Canadian prices was far too large considering the parity of the currencies.

  5. Hal says:

    +1 w/#13 above. also the inevitable neonazis (and its not just “europeans who haven’t dealt with their antisemitic past” thanks) using the figures to make lego nuremberg rallies and death camps then posting on youtube. public relations disaster

  6. markbellis says:

    You do have to wonder why Steve Spielberg chose to have Nazis parading around in full uniform, and using marked Luftwaffe planes when they were presumably on a secret mission in a country that was under de facto British rule and on the alert against a fascist invasion from Italian-ruled Somalia.

  7. Marshall says:

    I can understand the business decisions that go into not having Nazi symbology in either the sets or the game, but it is disappointing from a historical perspective. I’m Jewish, and I’d have no problem buying either the game or the sets (I’m planning on picking up all of them) if they had historically correct Nazi references. I wish LEGO would do more historical sets, including historical military sets.

    Most of Europe still hasn’t come to terms with its own historical and contemporary antisemitism, so this omission just strikes me as another sweeping under the rug of the issue.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Agreed with the first comment. Basically, unlike the movie’s Nazis, the figures can be taken out of context and cause a hullaboo on their own. That’s probably all there is to it.

  9. Maffiou says:

    The second world war is still a very sensitive subject in Europe. Maybe because of a lasting guilt about what happened then. I think there is the widespread idea that these things are just too serious to be a game or something fun.

  10. PapaScott says:

    As an American father living in Germany with a German-American 8-year-old son, I’m very happy that LEGO is keeping the Nazi symbols off the Indiana Jones line. After seeing the toys on the LEGO website, he got interested in the movies, and we watched them together.

    After watching Last Crusade, the next day he was drawing villians with swastika flags. We had to explain that while the movie was fantasy, the symbols were real and that he shouldn’t be drawing them.

    He’s going to have to come to terms with German history soon enough without having swastikas on his favorite toys and games.

  11. mark says:

    I’d say it has to do with the visual tone of the products, and the underlying feeling they evoke. While the Indiana Jones movies do in point of fact have appeal for kids, they deal with real danger in order to drive the plot. Real (looking) nazis and equipment are pretty necessary to establish both their literal physical danger to our beloved Dr. Jones as well as their larger alignment with evil in terms of the overall plot. Fighting an enemy which is immediately recognizable as both real and a personification of pure evil drives a lot of the conflict in the movies without forcing us to view them actually doing a lot of evil stuff. If you think about it this is a good way of adding a layer onto the plot of the movie, since while the nazis behave consistently like movie bad guys they don’t actually have to tell you that they are operating death camps and slave labor camps. The grownups know it and the kids don’t need to.

    Contrastingly, the Lego re-imagining seems to only work at the kids level. Try to imagine layering the final solution into the personification of nazis in lego form. It just doesn’t work. A couple of small dialogue exchanges and shots in the movies hint at this kind of background, but that simply won’t work in the form of this kind of video game. Since there is no added benefit driving the plot in the game by specifically including this (troubling) imagery, I’d say it’s a good call to omit it. After all the beauty of the Lego video game franchises is their doing less with more, both in terms of dialogue and character representation, as well as with clever (but quite elegantly minimalist) level and game design.

    P.S. I’m not trying to imply that the Lego games are just for kids, merely that they are trying to only capture that simpler and purer tone, rather than the more layered representation usually found in the subject matter they represent

  12. License Farm says:

    I agree with AndyHavens: my nephew will be 8 this year and I’ve still not exposed him to Indy, and it might still be a couple more years before I do unless his parents beat me to it. Granted, I saw them when I was very young, but they scared the piss out of me then, and there was no PG-13 rating at the time.

    So why do are toys made for kids who are ostensibly too young to have seen what the toys are licensed off of? They can exist in a vacuum, sure, but what’s the point, then, other than crass profits?

  13. Beschizza says:

    The problem with letting people make their own decisions is that they may make the wrong ones.

  14. pupdog says:

    There are legal issues too, as the sets would have to be offered without the swastikas in parts of Europe. Cheaper (in terms of money and PR) to just offer them without…

  15. Santos says:

    Movies and toys are different. I think kids get that. And NAZIs are stupid. Most adults get that.

  16. Shonenyakuza says:

    @ARBORMAN:

    Yes, in fact it IS illegal in Germany to show open fascist insignia/symbols, including toys and plastic models of WWII tanks, planes etc. – much to the annoyance of modelbuilders. So the Lego toys would be banned immediately (and considered to be in very bad taste, to say the least. Come on: Happy, smiling nazis with yellow heads?!). Only exception: Works of art, which presumably includes the Indy-films.

    In Germany you have to be 16 or above to see the uncut Inday films, although censored versions are shown on prime-time TV (edited for violence, not swastikas).

  17. Michael Brutsch says:

    Oh, yes, by all means, let’s just hide the swastikas, then everyone will just get along.
    Security through obscurity doesn’t work any better for fascism than it does for computers.

  18. arborman says:

    My understanding is that it is flat out illegal to produce, display or sell anything with a swastika in several countries in Europe, particularly Germany and possibly anywhere in the EU.

    So of course Lego won’t produce nazi symbology – it’s illegal.

    It reminds me of one of those logic equations – all people who sport swastikas are likely some kind of fascists, but not all fascists sport swastikas.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I’ve heard Lego doesn’t use logos at all, for ex. the Star Wars rebel logo,etc. Could be for increased interchangeability.

  20. Swen says:

    Polish artist Zbigniew Libera had a set of LEGO KZs
    http://users.erols.com/kennrice/lego-kz.htm

  21. pork musket says:

    I agree with the posters above, the difference is in the context. A little kid playing with lego can make the Nazis into the heroes rather than the villains if he/she wants, which is much different than the movie.

  22. andyhavens says:

    Who said the Indiana Jones movies are OK for kids? At least not all kids in the Lego age-group. My 8-year-old is mad for Legos (as am I), but “Raiders” would scare the crap out of him. Snakes from skeleton mouths, guys being impaled, melting faces… that’s a lot for a 2nd grader to handle.

  23. coldspell says:

    Lego is just trying to save a few bucks. Germany wanted too much money for the Nazi product placement license.

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