VALDOSTA — Since 1973, World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc., or WATCH, has released an annual “10 Worst Toys” list, identifying toys with the potential to injure children playing with them, and in some cases even cause death.
This year’s list includes
1. Army Force Automatic Rifle by Chuangfa Toys Factory has small parts that can be a choking hazard.
2. Big Rock & Roll Ball Pit by The Little Tikes Company comes with a warning to not “dive on, climb on or jump off of item,” and also poses a potential for impact injuries.
3. Max Steel Interactive Steel with Turbo Sword by
Mattel has a small parts warning and has the potential to cause facial or other impact injuries.
4. Disney Princess Backpack Fishing Kit by Disney and Pure Fishing contains lead, can be harmful if eaten or chewed and may generate dust containing lead.
5. Black Widow Folding Slingshot by Barnett Outdoors, LLC, comes with a disclaimer of liability stating that if the slingshot is “improperly used” that it could cause severe harm.
6. Little Drummer by Hape Toys comes with no warnings, but the drum, advertised as being suitable for kids aged one year and older, includes two small, slender 6.5 inch drumsticks which could potentially obstruct a child's airway.
7. Boomerang “Throw & Catch” by Kole Imports comes with a warning of choking hazards due to the packaging, as well as a warning of it being “unsuitable for children under 36 months.”
8. Disney Baby Snow White by Tollytots Limited wears a detachable headband with a plastic bow that constitutes a choking hazard.
9. N-Strike Jolt Blaster by Hasbro comes with the caution to “not aim at eyes or face” and fires darts with enough force to potentially cause eye injuries.
10. The Spooner-Freestyle by Spooner Inc. comes with multiple warnings?“Use at your own risk,” “Ride at your own risk”?but makes no mention of safety gear, helmets or otherwise. It's packaging also pictures children using the board with no safety gear.
WATCH isn't the only group with holiday toy warnings. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) has released their own list of 20 toys to watch out for, chief among them a Captain American Soft Shield, sold under the Marvel Super Hero Squad label.
How dangerous could a soft shield the size of a dinner plate be?
Well, it tests positive for 2900 parts per million (ppm) of lead, 29 times higher than the 100 ppm limit allowed as part of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.
One of the other worries in both the WATCH and the PIRG list is choking hazards. Any toy with small, detachable parts can pose a danger to children.
To test them, PIRG uses a “choke tube,” a plastic cylinder in the shape of a three-year-old's throat.
Another concern is impact injuries. The N-Strike Jolt Blaster fires darts fast enough to cause eye injuries; ditto for the Black Widow Folding Slingshot.
The Spooner-Freestyle?essentially a skateboard with no wheels?encourages kids to pull off skateboard tricks “on all surfaces.” While the package inserts for the Spooner-Freestyle repeatedly warn that using the board is a risk, they provide no mention of safety gear or how kids can make the using the board less risky.
It's not all bad news. There were 31 toy recalls for fiscal year 2013, down from 38 in 2012 and way down from 172 in 2008.
Still, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports an estimated 265,000 toy-related injuries treated by hospital emergency departments and 11 toy-related deaths for children under the age of 12, which, as any parent will tell you, is 11 too many.