U.S. consumer group flags 10 most dangerous toys

BOSTON Thu Nov 17, 2011 12:11pm EST

1 of 6. Toys are seen before a news conference by the group W.A.T.C.H. where they reveal their nominees for the 2011 '10 Worst Toys List' in Boston, Massachusetts November 16, 2011. W.A.T.C.H stands for World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc.

Credit: Reuters/Adam Hunger

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BOSTON (Reuters) - A Power Rangers "samurai mega blade" and a Godzilla figure with dagger-like attachments are some of the most dangerous toys lurking in stores this holiday season, according to a consumer watchdog group.

Boston-based World Against Toys Causing Harm (WATCH) on Wednesday issued its annual list of the 10 worst children's toys, just in time for the shopping frenzy that typically starts in late November.

On the list were items the group said pose risks for choking, electrocution, puncture wounds and more.

Joan Siff, president of WATCH, said there have been at least 28 toy recalls representing 3.8 million units in the United States over the past year.

"Any recall is too late in the process," she said, urging better vetting and testing of toys before they go on sale. "Testing cannot take place in the marketplace."

The group has produced its list each year since 1973, and has been successful in getting a number of toys pulled from the shelves. It found this year's selections at leading big-box retailers, online, and in small specialty stores.

James Swartz, a director of WATCH, demonstrated the "Z-Curve Bow," a foam bow and arrow set recommended for kids eight and over.

A warning label suggested the bow should not be pulled back "at more than half strength" and that "anyone at close distance to the target should be alerted" before firing.

"That is a weapon," Swartz said, shooting an arrow into a wall with a loud thud.

Also featured was a "Fold & Go Trampoline" which came with the warning it should only be used for controlled bouncing.

"What young child has the ability, the desire, the knowledge to use it in that manner?" said Swartz. "That's not possible in the real world."

German wooden toys seem sturdy and rather quaint. But a wooden duck, sold for babies as young as a year, has a pull cord about 33 inches long -- a potential strangulation hazard.

The industry's standard limits strings on cribs and playpen toys to 12 inches.

Toys often have thematic tie-ins to popular movies, television shows or books, arguably making them likely choices for shoppers looking for a familiar brand.

On the "Sword Fighting Jack Sparrow" figurine, fashioned after Pirates of the Caribbean star Johnny Depp, the pirate's right hand is armed with a 4-inch long, rigid, plastic sword.

The Consumer Products Safety Commission reports that in 2009 about 250,000 toy-related injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms, a number that has been rising.

Reports of toy hazards, however, "needlessly frighten parents" this time of year, said the Toy Industry Association. It said less than half of one percent of the estimated 3 billion toys sold each year in the United States are recalled.

"Toys are safer now than they've ever been," said Stacy Leistner, a spokesman for the Toy Industry Association, the trade group for the North American toy industry.

The design, testing, production and inspection of toys are constantly being strengthened, the group said.

"Certainly from the industry, safety is our number one priority year round, not just at the holidays," Leistner said.

For a full list of the group's 2011 10 worst toys: here

(Additional reporting by Lauren Keiper; Editing by Jerry Norton)

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Comments (8)
Fatesrider wrote:
–”Toys are safer now than they’ve ever been,” said Stacy Leistner, a spokesman for the Toy Industry Association, the trade group for the North American toy industry.–

–The Consumer Products Safety Commission reports that in 2009 about 250,000 toy-related injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms, a number that has been rising.–

If toys are safer, then kids are dumber.

Nov 17, 2011 3:47pm EST  --  Report as abuse
crimsondrac wrote:
Kid are going to get hurt no matter what. No amount of vetting or safety test will every make kids 100% hurt proof. I think back to my youth and am surprised sometimes that I am not dead with the amount of stupid things most kids do and most of them did not need any toys to help. The only thing that might help is parents actually paying attention to what their kids do instead of throwing them in a room with a bunch of toys and a TV while they take a nap or whatever else they want to do. In fact, most kiddie injuries happen when the parents “turned their back for a minute”. The only reason people see toys as dangerous is because kids always have a toy of some type so it is easy to say they get hurt from them. But the plain fact is they will get hurt no matter what, that is what kids do. I mean really, how many kids fall out of a tree every year…better outlaw trees.

Nov 17, 2011 4:30pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Montana1 wrote:
These stories make you wonder- what kind of toys did the TESTERS play with when they were young? I doubt seriously that they had all the safest items on the market.
I will now sound old- but- in MY day… if it didn’t electrocute you, blow you up or make you bleed- it was considedred a safe toy! Of course- those toys weren’t very much fun to play with… ;)

Nov 17, 2011 9:57pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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