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Worst Toy Recall List Includes Aqua Dots, Fisher-Price Power Wheels

Jan 2, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP

Toy recalls reached record numbers in 2007.  Over six million toys have were recalled because of lead; the highest number ever due to product defects.  Lead tainted toy lawsuits now include Fisher-Price; Michaels Stores; Sears, Roebuck and Co.; Costco Wholesale; Eveready Battery; KMart; and Marvel Entertainment for Ernie, Elmo, Big Bird, SpongeBob, and Thomas the Train products.  But lead isn’t the only problem according to two consumer investigations—toys with small parts that pose a choking hazard and small magnets that can injure the intestines if swallowed have also caused massive toy recalls.  These problems aren’t new or any more shocking than toy recalls from the “good old days.”  Dangerous toys have long been problematic.   Following is a small sampling of what the website Revolution Health considers the top toy safety issues of all time:

•    Nearly three million Mini Hammocks from EZ Sales were recalled in 1996 after 12 confirmed deaths by asphyxiation and reports of near-death entrapments in which children became entangled in the hammock webbing.

•    The Fisher-Price Power Wheels Motorcycle was recalled in 2000 because, on some models, the accelerator jammed.

•    Nearly nine million Sky Dancers Flying Dolls were recalled in 2000 because the hard plastic dolls lacked reliable controls and flew in unpredictable directions.  Due to over 150 injuries, including temporary blindness, broken teeth, concussion, broken rib, and lacerations.

•    Spin Mater’s Chinese-manufactured Aqua Dots were recalled this year because the toy’s beads contained a chemical that metabolized into the date rape drug gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) when ingested.  Two children became comatose for hours and one child was hospitalized for five days.

•    Clackers—two acrylic balls which swung on either end of a string about a foot long—were not recalled; however, the balls were heavy, leading to injury when they smacked into kids' faces, often when the string broke. The balls also occasionally shattered, cutting children. The products drew a safety warning, but no recall from the FDA in 1971, and a mandate they be made with shatterproof balls and nylon cords.

•    Hasbro’s Easy-Bake Oven was recalled twice this year after 250 children caught hands or fingers in the oven; 77 were burned and a five-year old girl lost part of her finger.

•    Swimways Skippy Pool Toys was recalled in 2007 because the elastic tubing used to launch the fish across the water like a slingshot would break.  There were 24 reports of the toy breaking and five injuries to children, including one requiring stitches and another whose thumbnail was ripped back from its bed.

•    The Sportsman's Guide Big Red Wagon was recalled in 2002 because the rubber wheels’ plastic rims could break and explode when inflated, resulting in eight reports of exploding tires, three involving adults who sustained lacerations and abrasions.

•    Jarts and other lawn darts were recalled during the 1980s following nearly 7,000 injuries and four deaths. The darts were heavily weighted, causing them to pierce whatever they struck, including many children.

•    In 1997, Mattel’s Snacktime Cabbage Patch Dolls were withdrawn from shelves, but never formally recalled; the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) stated its testing did not reveal a hazard.  The dolls automated jaws’—designed to teach children to feed smaller children—reportedly chomped human parts, according to 35 reports received by the CPSC.

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