An artist’s toy company has raised tens of thousands of pounds towards medical supplies for Ukraine by creating LEGO-inspired figures of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky and perhaps more shockingly, mini-Molotov cocktails.
The small plastic figures by Citizen Brick have proved so popular around the world that the company has now sold out despite producing an extra run of the designs – raising more than $145,000 (£100,000) for the victims of the conflict in Ukraine.
The minifigures of President Zelensky sold out fast, even though they come with a costly price tag at about $100 (£76) each. Each Molotov cocktail sold for about $10 (£7.60).
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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine expressed its gratitude for the fundraising drive, sharing an image of the Molotov cocktail figures on its official Instagram account, although it incorrectly attributed the designs to the official LEGO company, saying: "Lego, reserve some bricks for us, we will need them to rebuild our cities and villages."
Citizen Brick’s LEGO-style figures might look similar to the famous toy brand but the official LEGO Group has pointed out that the designs have no connection to the LEGO company and are an independent venture.
Artist Joe Trupia, who is based in Chicago, started Citizen Brick ten years ago, taking the iconic LEGO minifigure and designing his own version of the much-loved toy brand, creating what he described as "wildly inappropriate" designs that LEGO would never make itself.
He has no personal involvement in Ukraine or connections to the conflict but has said he simply felt he wanted to help, telling the Washington Post: "I just felt that I had to act using what I had."
The artist created two minifigure models that he felt reflected bravery in the face of tyranny in Ukraine – a model of the country's president and somewhat more controversially, LEGO-style figures of Molotov cocktails, of the kind of homemade weapons that have been widely used by citizens in Ukraine to defend their cities against invading Russian forces.
The designs have been so popular that they sold out within hours of going on sale, raising thousands for the Direct Relief charity, which has been sending medical aid to Ukraine since the war began.
Minifigures of the president feature him in the outfit for which he has become known worldwide – military fatigues, black hair and stubble.
The Molotov cocktails depict a bottle with a flame coming out of the top, akin to the homemade incendiary devices made out of bottles filled with flammable liquid.
The artist’s company announced on its social media that every figure of the Ukrainian president had sold out earlier this week.
There are no plans to make any more of the mini-figures as there was a limited supply of the parts needed to create the initial designs.