Con­sumer group un­veils ‘worst toys’ list

Houston Chronicle - - BUSINESS -

BOS­TON — Fid­get spin­ners, a plas­tic Won­der Woman bat­tle sword and a re­mote-con­trolled Spi­der­Man drone are among the toys top­ping a con­sumer safety group’s an­nual list of worst toys for the hol­i­days.

World Against Toys Caus­ing Harm, or WATCH, un­veiled the top 10 list Tues­day at a Bos­ton chil­dren’s hos­pi­tal. The non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion has been re­leas­ing the lists for more than four decades.

WATCH claims fid­get spin­ners con­tain small parts that can be a chok­ing haz­ard, Mat­tel’s Won­der Woman sword has the po­ten­tial to cause blunt-force in­juries and Marvel’s Spi­der-Man drone has mul­ti­ple ro­tat­ing blades that can lead to eye and other bod­ily in­juries.

The Toy As­so­ci­a­tion, a trade group, dis­missed the list as “need­lessly fright­en­ing” to par­ents be­cause all toys sold in the U.S. meet “rig­or­ous” safety stan­dards. It also crit­i­cized the or­ga­ni­za­tion for not test­ing the toys it fo­cuses on.

WATCH says there have been at least 15 re­calls rep­re­sent­ing nearly 2 mil­lion units of dan­ger­ous toys since De­cem­ber.

WATCH Pres­i­dent Joan Siff stressed the toys named each year have com­mon haz­ards that the group sees year af­ter year. She pointed to the “Pull Along Pony” by Tolo Toys that’s mar­keted for chil­dren over age 1 but has a 19inch cord. “We don’t need a test­ing lab to know that’s a stran­gu­la­tion and en­tan­gle­ment haz­ard,” she said.

With con­sumers in­creas­ingly do­ing their hol­i­day shop­ping on­line, it’s more im­por­tant than ever to have the most cur­rent in­for­ma­tion about the safety of a toy on­line, Siff said.

For ex­am­ple, Hall­mark’s Dis­ney-themed “Itty Bit­tys” plush stack­ing toy for ba­bies was re­called over the sum­mer due to fab­ric pieces that posed a chok­ing haz­ard. But the toy still is read­ily avail­able on­line be­cause many web sales are rarely mon­i­tored for re­calls, Siff noted.

Among the other toys that made this year’s list is Nerf’s “Zom­bie Strike” cross­bow, which the or­ga­ni­za­tion says poses the risk of eye and face in­juries be­cause it uses a pres­sur­ized, pull back lever to shoot soft pro­jec­tiles.

Ra­zor’s “Heel Wheels” are strapped onto chil­dren’s shoes to turn them into im­pro­vised roller skates but pose a burn risk be­cause they in­clude “real spark­ing ac­tion.”

And “Slack­line” is a tightrope-like de­vice by Brand 44 meant to be an­chored be­tween two trees that WATCH says can lead to se­vere in­jury and death.

Philip Marcelo / As­so­ci­ated Press

James Swartz, di­rec­tor of World Against Toys Caus­ing Harm, dis­plays Nerf ’s “Zom­bie Strike” cross­bow Tues­day in Bos­ton, where the child safety group re­leased its hol­i­day list of the most haz­ardous toys.

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