Dozens of retailers and ecommerce companies are severing ties with Russia in the wake of that country’s invasion of Ukraine. But one little toy sold around the world has become a symbol of Ukraine’s ability to inflict pain on Russia: the Lego block.
The LEGO Group, No. 136 in the 2021 Digital Commerce 360 Europe Database, issued a statement March 5 saying it had “paused shipments of products to Russia given the extensive disruption to the operating environment.” It also said it would donate some $16.5 million to emergency relief efforts, with a focus on providing support for children and families. The donation will be made to existing partners, including the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Save the Children, and the Danish Red Cross.
That caught Paweł Jońca’s attention. Jońca is an illustrator from Poland who apparently knows the pain of stepping barefoot on a Lego block. He created a poster showing a giant bear, symbolizing Russia, about to experience that pain by stepping on blue and yellows blocks stacked to look like the Ukraine flag.
“It all started when I remembered that Lego bricks are similar in colors to the Ukrainian flag,” Jońca told Digital Commerce 360. “During my childhood, I used to build with Lego a lot. Traditional associations with war include military symbols, tanks, bombs, but also those associated with peace: the dove of peace. I wanted to find something that would change these associations and speak better to the smartphone generation.”
“The proportions and colors refer to huge Russia and smaller Ukraine,” Jońca said. “The heaviness of the aggressor and the tenacity and persistence of the defender. Most viewers associated stepping on the block with their own experience and immediately thought, ‘Hope it hurts!’”
The children’s crusade
The poster of the bear and the Lego block is not the only example of something childlike playing a role in the resistance.
A video of a young girl singing “Let It Go,” from Disney’s “Frozen,” in a fallout shelter in Ukraine captivated millions on social media.
Idina Menzel, who voices the character Elsa in the Disney film, retweeted the video to her more than 685,000 followers.
“We see you. We really, really see you,” she wrote to the child, adding blue and yellow heart emojis.
The Walt Disney Co., No. 104 in the 2021 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000, issued a statement last week.
“We are pausing the release of theatrical films in Russia,” the statement read. (Paramount Pictures, Sony Corp., AT&T Inc.’s WarnerMedia and Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures have also halted or postponed the release of movies in Russia, according to Bloomberg News.)
Others in the toy industry show support for Ukraine and disdain for Russia
The Horst Brandstätter Group, which makes PLAYMOBIL, has halted shipments to Russia.
Radio Flyer has changed the lighting scheme at its Chicago headquarters to the blue and yellow colors of Ukraine in a show of solidarity.
The Toy Foundation, a nonprofit funded by the U.S. toy industry, is raising money for Ukraine relief.
The Pokemon Company donated $200,oo0 for humanitarian relief.
Bobbleheads are also raising funds for Ukraine relief.
More than 1 million people have become refugees since Russia attacked Ukraine. Hundreds of thousands of them are children, according to the U.N.