This morning, we brought you allegations that popular toymaker Lego was planning to pull one of its Star Wars sets off shelves. Some critics and outlets claimed that the company folded under pressure from Muslims who viewed the toy as “anti-Islamic” in nature.
But this afternoon, TheBlaze reached a representative who denied these accusations and explained that the toy, called “Jabba‘s Palace,” is not in fact being discontinued because of the company’s contention with Muslims.
Lego’s Brand Relations Director Michael McNally responded to questions via email, explaining, from the company’s perspective, how the situation unfolded. Rather than attributing the discontinuation of the toy as having anything to do with the Islamic controversy, he painted a very different picture.
“What is being reported at the moment is false,” McNally told TheBlaze. “As a normal process products in the LEGO Star Wars assortment usually have a life-cycle of one to three years and are not in the portfolio after this time.”
The representative went on to note that “Jabba‘s Palace” was always planned to be sold only until the end of 2013 and that it is “being discontinued as it was originally planned, not for any other reason.” The confusion that has colored the story, McNally claims, comes from a dialogue that Lego had with Austria’s Turkish Cultural Association (TCA).
“We were in dialogue with the Austrian Turkish group to better understand each others points, but the product exit of 9516 LEGO Star Wars Jabba‘s Palace is not a result of this dialogue but a planned portfolio change,” he continued. “It may have been misinterpreted through our dialogue that the item was being pulled for other reasons.”
Previously, The Independent explained the controversy in detail, highlighting the purportedly anti-Islamic nature of “Jabba’s Palace”:
The game, which is aimed at children aged from nine to 14, features Jabba the Hutt in his intergalactic lair. Jabba, the slug-like villain who first appeared in the 1983 film Return of the Jedi, lives in a domed, oriental-looking building equipped with rockets and machine guns. He also smokes a water pipe and keeps Princess Leia in chains for use as his personal slave.
Furious Muslim critics complained that the Lego set’s Asian and oriental figures were “deceitful and criminal” characters such as gun-runners, slave masters and terrorists.
While initial reports were that Lego was bowing to pressure from TCA and other Islamic groups that called the toy “anti-Islamic” and a poor representation, McNally claims that the company is, instead, simply following normal protocol.
TheBlaze first reported about the controversy in Jan. 2013. At that time, Lego was adamant that the toy was not designed to look like the Hagia Sophia mosque, an Islamic house of worship in Istanbul (and one of the central points of contention among Muslims who were angered by the toy).