Lego in hot water for using AI images

Lego has apologized for using AI images in an official Ninjago-themed quiz on its website but said it would continue to “explore” the technology.

The toy maker was called out by both fans and its own creators for using AI-generated content in an online quiz, which has now been removed. The badly-made images were first spotted by X user @legoanimegirl, who criticized a “billion dollar company” was behind them.

Ninjago co-creator Tommy Andreasen described the artwork used for the quiz as “just lousy in all aspects” and “completely unacceptable.” Also posting on X, he said that Lego has “actual guidelines against the use of AI like this.”

“Art should be made by artists,” Andreasen said.

Blurred lines, incomplete objects, and non-standard Lego details were some of the telltale signs the pictures were created using AI. Symbols from Naruto, another series, were also used in the imagery.

Finally, generative AI is notoriously bad at drawing hands, and Lego figures were no exception. Blogger Jim the AI Whisperer has dissected the images further in a post on Medium, describing the artwork as a “monstrosity” and an “absolute disaster.”

“The poorly generated images not only lack quality, but also mislead children and undermine the brand's identity. A clear reminder that AI is no substitute for human creativity and expertise,” they said in on X.

Lego said the use of AI-generated images was a mistake. “These images were used in a test which happened outside of our usual approval processes, and we will take all necessary steps to ensure that it won’t happen again,” it said in a statement.

“We fundamentally believe in the wonder and power of human creativity and will continue to encourage and celebrate the talented artists who help bring our brand and characters to life,” Lego said.

However, the company also said: “We believe generative AI offers interesting opportunities and we will continue to explore how we can use it to improve the experiences we offer and our ways of working.”

Lego is just the latest company to face backlash over the use of AI to create artwork as the debate over the issue in the creative community is ongoing. Others included Marvel, whose Secret Invasion series was criticized for using AI to generate opening credits.

Games publisher Wizards of the Coast was also criticized for using AI-generated imagery in its Dungeons & Dragons sourcebook. As a result, the company banned AI in its products – only to be caught using it again in some of its marketing materials later.