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More Lithium Batteries, Charges Included with Model Helicopters Recalled

Apr 15, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in cooperation with Hobby-Lobby International, Inc., today announced a voluntary recall of lithium-polymer battery chargers and lithium-polymer batteries sold with the AT600 Falcon Helicopter kit due to fire hazard.

According to the CPSC, about 3,200 of the lithium-polymer battery chargers and lithium-polymer batteries, which were distributed by Hobby-Lobby International Inc., of Brentwood, Tennessee and manufactured by Art-Tech R/C Hobby Company, Ltd. of Shenzhen, China, have been recalled.  The lithium-polymer batteries can ignite while charging, posing a fire hazard to consumers.  The recall also includes any spare battery (Model AT600B) or spare charger (Model ATS6046) purchased for this kit.  Hobby-Lobby has received three reports of incidents, including a consumer who received serious burns to his hand when a battery ignited.

The Falcon Helicopter kit lithium-polymer battery chargers and lithium-polymer batteries were sold through Hobby-Lobby.com from April 2006 through July 2007 and retailed for about $300 per kit.  Spare chargers sold for about $15 and spare batteries sold for about $45.

Consumers are advised to stop using the recalled chargers and batteries immediately and can receive new batteries and a “smart” charger that will shut down when the charging process is completed by contacting sales@hobby-lobby.com.  Hobby-Lobby International has directly contacted consumers who purchased the products from them.  Consumers should not return the batteries and chargers to the firm, but follow instructions for disposal and registration on their Web site.  For more information, contact Hobby-Lobby at (866) 933-5972 between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Central Time Monday through Saturday, or visit the firm’s web site at www.hobby-lobby.com

In February, about 30,000 of the Remote-Controlled Helicopter Toys-Fun2Fly Microcopter were recalled because the internal battery could catch fire during charging, igniting the helicopter and any combustible materials nearby.  The toys were manufactured in China and imported by Soft Air USA Inc., of Grapevine, Texas.

The CPSC is concerned about fire hazards from the lithium battery technology used with these toys and urges consumers to follow manufacturer's instructions when charging toys with these batteries.   Since November 2007, the CPSC received 26 reports of remote-controlled helicopters igniting while being charged and one incident of a helicopter igniting during flight; reports involve minor burns and property damage.  Soft Air received six reports of its Remote-Controlled Helicopter Toys-Fun2Fly Microcopter igniting with one reported injury.  Rechargeable lithium batteries (lithium-ion or lithium polymer) are increasingly used in toys as the technology is lighter.  The CPSC suggest the following”

•    Never leave the toy unattended while charging; adults should handle battery charging.
•    Charge the toy on a non-flammable surface away from flammable items.
•    Turn the charger off when the toy's battery is charged, always unplug the charger from the toy, and disconnect AC wall chargers from outlets while not in use.
•    If damaged, immediately stop using the toy, unplug it, and safely move it away from flammable materials.
•    Follow the manufacturer's instructions for charging the toy.  Do NOT charge the toy longer than recommended.


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