Friday, December 5, 2008

Lego's "Bandit - Mr. White" is Osama Bin Laden! (Not)

I've posted before, about "Bandit - Mr. White" and the Ramadhan Foundation's rather strident response to the toy.

A bit later, I read an article in a British newspaper that helps explain the Ramadhan Foundation's feelings. I still think they're taking the wrong approach, though.

LEGO Makes Osama bin Laden Figure!

Wrong, on two counts.

The Telegraph's headline reads, "Terrorist Osama bin Laden given Lego make-over" - attention-getting, but not accurate.
  1. LEGO doesn't manufacture or sell "Bandit - Mr. White"
  2. "Bandit - Mr. White" isn't Osama bin Laden
There is a wisp of truth in that wild claim: The BrickArms figures start out as LEGO products, but are altered before being re-sold - without LEGO's permission, I take it.

Reality Check, Please!

My guess is that the Telegraph either assumed that nobody would look up the toy: or were blithely unaware that assumptions aren't facts. Here are a few facts:
  • "Bandit - Mr. White" is part of Will Chapman's military fighters line, sold on BrickArms
  • The words "Osama bin Laden" do not appear in connection with the minifigure
The toy is described this way on the BrickArms site:

"BrickArms Bandit - Mr. White
While his other siblings shun the day, Mr. White basks in the sunlight. Boldly attacking when the sun is high, each toss of his 8 fragmentation grenades erupts in a miniature supernova of destruction! More..

If you follow the "More.." link, you'll read:

"Toys - Minifigs - BrickArms Bandit - 'Mr. White'
BrickArms Custom Minifig
BrickArms Bandit - 'Mr. White'
  • Tan two-sided minifig LEGO torso with crossed-bandoleer print
  • White LEGO Scarf Headwrap
  • Black BrickArms RPG
  • Black BrickArms C96 Broomhandle Mauser Pistol
  • Black BrickArms AK Asault Rifle
  • 8 Black BrickArms M67 Frag Grenades
  • Black LEGO Rubber Band Bandoleer

It Must be True! I read in in the Newspaper!

I may have to re-classify the Telegraph, grouping it with those publications that feature photos of space aliens and angsty movie stars. Here's the article's headline and lead paragraphs:
  • "Terrorist Osama bin Laden given Lego make-over
    • "Terrorist Osama bin Laden has been cast as a Lego character, complete with heavy weaponry.
    • "By Stephen Adams
      Last Updated: 11:42AM GMT 04 Dec 2008
    • "The al-Qaeda leader has been given a miniature pistol, machine gun, rocket launcher and grenades for the £9.50 figure.
    • "He is one of a number of figures to be converted into disturbing toys by BrickArms, which specialises in making "custom moulded weapons and custom mini-figures" from basic Lego.
    • "Others include a Nazi SS officer and a storm trooper...."
I don't often use the term "hysterical," but this comes very close to qualifying. My guess is that the Telegraph offices in England have an Internet connection that's at least as good as mine, here in the heart of darkest Minnesota, and that Mr Adams, or someone else on the staff, could have taken the ten minutes or so it took me to research BrickArms and the "Mr. White" figure.

But, that didn't happen.

Some other news services weren't all that careful with their research, either: but I think the Telegraph walks away with the prize.

This "LEGO Osama bin Laden" nonsense is another example of why I research wild or emotionally-charged claims.

I think we'd all be better off, if readers, editors, and reporters did the same.

Related posts: Background and news:

No comments:

Unique, innovative candles

Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle Store


Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.