Maisto International's model Predator drones are selling out on Amazon.com's website as parody reviews highlight how the toys can help children hone killing skills, mocking a controversial US practice.
As of Monday none of the $US49.99 military-style toy jets were available for purchase on Amazon's site, which is brimming with assessments laced with dark humour. "You can't spell slaughter without laughter," one pithy joker wrote.
US President Barack Obama's targeted use of drones to kill suspected terrorists has come under fire from both Democrats and Republicans who view the practice as inhumane. While Obama didn't mention drones in his State of the Union address last week, he said he will continue a policy of "direct action" and vowed to make the anti-terrorism program more transparent.
"Nothing teaches my child about how to murder enemy combatants silently and invisibly from the sky with no risk," one review on Amazon begins. "Teaching our children to be familiar with a silent, faceless killing machine is the way to educate our children about the importance that is war."
As protest movements adapt to the digital age, Amazon is just one of many vociferous anti-drone forums on the internet. Groups on Facebook's social network such as Question Your Government, while protesting the policy, are also posting links to the critiques on Amazon's site. Posts on Twitter's micro-blogging service, including one from TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington, are also drawing attention to the reviews.
Change.org, a grass-roots community activism website that rose to prominence during Obama's first presidential campaign, is gathering signatures on a petition asking Maisto, a maker of die-cast replicas, to discontinue the Fresh Metal Tailwinds Predator Drone toy.
"I will not buy this shameful toy, nor teach children to hate," the petition says. "There is no glory in murder."
Rick Berman, a director of product development at Maisto, declined to comment. Craig Berman, an Amazon spokesman, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Amazon's conditions of use posted on its website say that the Seattle-based company reserves the right to remove or edit reviews, which it doesn't regularly examine.
Consumers have flocked to Amazon's review section as a forum for political satire before. In October, the user comment section of an Avery Dennison binder listed on the e-commerce site became the subject of a similar outbreak. Reviewers used Amazon to make light of a comment made by then-Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney during a debate. Romney had said he drew upon "binders full of women" to help fill cabinet seats as governor of Massachusetts.
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