The must-have rocket launcher for toddlers

London department store withdraws sell-out toy based on Soviet-era weapon after parents brand it 'sick'

Liberty, the luxury department store, apologised yesterday for selling wooden toy versions of Soviet-era Katyusha rocket launchers. The £23.50 toy, available in baby pink, yellow or natural wood, was described as "tasteless" and "vile", particularly as the colours and simplicity of the design appeared to be marketed at younger children.

Katyusha rocket launchers were first used by the Soviet Union in the Second World War and more recently by Hezbollah militants to fire rockets into Israel during the 2006 conflict and in Libya last year.

The toy version, which was available online and in Liberty's Regent Street shop in London, had been reduced to half price last week. It is made by the Dutch design company Kids on Roof, whose slogan is "for creative and playful kids and grown-ups". The Katyusha rocket launcher and a wooden Russian tank are listed on the Kids on Roof website under the category "uncensored toys", and the designers claim the toys are "not meant to shock. Let kids play war peacefully – as they have been doing for centuries and will do for centuries to come".

But Jo Swinson, a Liberal Democrat MP and parliamentary aide to Nick Clegg, who has campaigned against inappropriate toys and clothing for children, said: "Liberty can sell what they like, but I think it is bizarre. This very week negotiators at the United Nations are working to agree a historic arms trade treaty. When small children in conflict zones around the world are being killed and maimed by rocket launchers, it seems rather tasteless to be marketing a sanitised pink version to young children in our country."

The rocket launchers provoked a mixed response on the Mumsnet website yesterday. One chatroom member with the username UnChartered wrote: "Maybe there will be a range of dolls with horrific injuries too? I'm trying to joke about this, but feel increasingly sick." "Laudinum" wrote that her daughter thought it was a "sick joke" and that the "entire concept was vile".

But "TodaysAGoodDay" wrote: "A bit of a silly idea for a child's toy, but if it doesn't actually hurt anyone it's fine. I don't know any little boys who don't have a toy gun around the place, and if they haven't got one they usually improvise with sticks, cardboard tubes etc."

Kids on Roof did not respond to a request for comment yesterday. A spokesman for Liberty said: "These toys have sold out on the website and in the store. It was an oversight in terms of ordering something without thinking through what it was.

"This company does trucks and cars made of wood, things that our customers really like. But the rocket launcher was an oversight on our part. We do not condone warfare and we apologise for any offence caused. We won't be selling anything like that again."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
British author Helen Macdonald, pictured with Costa book of the year, 'H is for Hawk'
booksPanel hail Helen Macdonald's 'brilliantly written, muscular prose' in memoir of a grief-stricken daughter who became obsessed with training a goshawk
Sport
footballLive blog: Follow the action from the Capital One Cup semi-final
Life and Style
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Manager - OTE £40,000

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This web-based lead generation ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Intervention Teacher Required To Start ASAP.

£125 - £150 per day + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A 'wonderful primary ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is an 11-16 mixed commun...

Recruitment Genius: PHP / Drupal / SaaS Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly developing company in...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century