SACRAMENTO, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- A California mother said she was shocked to discovery her son's Playmobil pirate ship came with a dark-skinned figurine apparently meant to be a slave.
Ida Lockett of Sacramento said she was helping her 5-year-old son assemble the Playmobil set he received for his birthday when she noticed the instructions call for the dark-skinned figurine to don a neck-mounted accessory that appears to be a slave collar.
Lockett said the figurine, which is the only one in the set with dark skin, wears tattered pants and no shoes.
"It's definitely racist," she said. "It told my son to put a slave cuff around the black character's neck, and then to play with the toy."
Sacramento NAACP President Stephen Webb said the group is calling for the play set to be removed from the shelves.
"This is deplorable; this cannot be accepted, and it needs to be pulled off the shelf," he said.
Aimee Norman, who purchased the set for Lockett's son at Toys 'R' Us, said in a post to Playmobil's Facebook page that she was shocked and outraged.
"When I was browsing your play sets for purchase, this was the only one that even had a black character and that's precisely why I chose it for my nephew. I didn't notice from the box exterior that the black characters were to be depicted in this offensive way. Who would think in the year 2015?" she wrote.
"Would it be too much to ask for you to just create a regular old black pirate?" Norman wrote.
Playmobil said in a statement to The Washington Post that the character was meant to be a former slave working on a 17th century pirate ship.
"If you look at the box, you can see that the pirate figure is clearly a crew member on the pirate ship and not a captive," the company said. "The figure was meant to represent a pirate who was a former slave in a historical context. It was not our intention to offend anyone in anyway."
WINCHESTER, England, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- A British inventor used Lego pieces to create a "driving simulator" to illustrate the potential dangers of using a cellphone behind the wheel.
Simon Burfield, whose website describes him as "an IOS Developer by day and Lego robot builder by night," posted a video to YouTube showing the "driving simulator" he built using Lego Mindstorms materials and his cellphone.
The simulator is composed of a steering wheel that moves a "truck" from side to side to dodge obstacles on a moving Lego track that gets faster over time.
"This is to show people that using a mobile phone while driving is bad," Burfield says in the video.
Burfield's phone receives a call from his "mum" while he is controlling the truck, taking his attention away from the apparatus and causing the simulated vehicle to collide with a wall of Lego bricks.
"And that's a demonstration of what happens when you drive and use your phone," Burfield says.