National Security Twitter Is Going Nuts For These Awesome “Tetris Challenge” Memes

The images look like they showcase toy sets of miniature soldiers, their gear, and their vehicles, but they are indeed very real.

byTyler Rogoway|
Fighters photo


Twitter is a fascinating thing. Communities within the larger community can take on a life of their own. "National Security Twitter," which includes everyone from foreign policy wonks to missile tech geeks to open source intelligence gatherers, is no different. Earlier in the month, Military Giant Cats—literally a Twitter user that posts photoshopped giant cats interacting with military hardware—was all the rage. This week the "Tetris Challenge" meme has risen to prominence, and for good reason. The photos—which are shot from an overhead perspective and showcase military personnel and their vast and usually highly expensive gear and vehicles—look like packaged toy playsets. Think the most realistic GI Joes ever. 

It all looks so real... because it is!

According to one source, this particular meme concept dates back a couple of years when the New Zealand Police posted such an image, but it really picked up steam this month when some Swiss police officers posted their own take on the idea and it went viral. The classic videogame callback moniker comes from the grid-like pattern that all the gear, and the personnel that uses it, are laid out in.  

It suits the military particularly well because there is a lot of high-end kit to show off and plenty of creative service people that are always thinking of new ways to do so. So far, it has involved land combat elements, as well as fighters jets and helicopters, and their crews. Check some of them out for yourself:

Military units are catching on fast, but the first responder community has just gone nuts with the meme, with incredible results to show for it:

The best part about this viral phenomenon is that it is actually really interesting and even educational. It offers a unique peek at all the gear that is used by unique and sometimes elite communities. Now that militaries around the globe are getting involved, the possibilities really get interesting. Imagine what a Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewman (SWCC) team, a Patriot battery, a Stryker armored fighting vehicle or an Apache attack helicopter unit, or even a B-2 bomber or U-2 spy plane squadron could do with this? 

There is also something of a military crossover here when it comes to the core of the concept. For the better part of a century, military aviation units would display their aircraft with their complete stores menu laid out in front of them in a Tertis-like arrangement. This still happens to this very day. So adapting that same practice to the Tetris Challenge is a no-brainer.

Weapons layouts are still a staple of military aviation to this very day. ,
An impressive contemporary B-52H conventional weapons layout. , USAF

So, to military personnel reading this, you have been challenged! Let's see you and your hardware photographed GI Joe packaged toy style!

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