A LEGO-like toy set celebrating China’s burgeoning space program has puzzled many customers by faithfully reproducing a notice outside a space-launch site, which warns that those stealing secrets will face decapitation.
Sembo Block, a Chinese company that makes toy sets similar in design to LEGO, may have made a wrong turn in pursuit of refining details when creating new products. Its 2,221-piece set celebrating China’s rapid advancement in space exploration includes a harshly-worded slogan that says: “Those who steal secrets will be caught and decapitated.”
This Chinese Lego takes its space toy mission a bit far, and includes the actual space base 'steal secrets or you'll die' slogan in its rocket set 😂 pic.twitter.com/TIO7vuiIKs
— Manya Koetse (@manyapan) July 3, 2021
The phrase itself is an actual real-life warning to would-be spies and leakers entering the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center (JSLC), the first of China’s four space-launch sites. The light-blue sign with golden characters delivering the menacing message caused some stir on Chinese social media in 2013, when photos of it went viral in the wake of the Shenzhou 10 mission launch from JSLC.
— 陶炉石 (@wuhan1946114) June 15, 2013
The sign was faithfully reproduced by Sembo Block, complete with the slogan, for one of its larger space-themed sets. At least that is true for the version designed for domestic customers. The international version goes with a blank light-blue sign instead.
The set features a toy Long March 2F, the primary launch vehicle for Chinese manned space missions, its manned payload and emergency escape system, remotely-operated ground infrastructure and figurines of taikonauts and ground-crew members. It is meant for children aged six and up.
The controversial sign also features in a stop-motion promo video for the larger space exploration series. The slogan seems to be blurred-out post-production the first time it appears in the animation.
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The real-life Long March 2F rocket was last used on June 17, when it launched the three-crew Shenzhou 12 mission into orbit. It was the seventh manned mission for China and the first one to deliver explorers to the fledgling Tiangong space station, which currently consists of the core module.
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