Monday, December 08, 2014

Forget the land of the misfit toys, these toys are outright bad

One of Pink Slip’s annual holiday traditions is checking out the toys that have made their way on to W.A.T.C.H.’s list of the “10 Worst Toys” of the year.

It’s actually pretty incredible that in this day and age – when there actually is such a thing as consumer protection, and when parents are seemingly more involved and protective than they were back in the day – there are still so many hazardous toys out there.

But indeed there are.

A few of the toys on this year’s list are aimed at very small children.

There’s a pull toy – the Alphabet Zoo Rock & Stack – that could cause  strangulation in a child under 18 months. (Fortunately, that warning’s on the packaging. Too bad the average 18 month old can’t read.)

But this toy, marketed for babies – as is a little instrument set for 12 month olds that could cause choking, the Little Cutesie doll (also a potential choker), and the stuffed hedgehog with the poorly rooted fiber-like hair (age 0 and over): aspiration problems  – would be easy enough for someone to throw in the shopping cart, probably thinking “no on would manufacture and sell something that’s dangerous to a baby.”

These baby toys are inexpensive, so they’re probably especially alluring to those who don’t have a lot to spend on their kids (and who are unlikely to be aware of the W.A.T.C.H. list).

Then there’s Radio Flyer’s Ziggle, a low-riding four wheeled cycle that required “continuous adult supervision.” Forget the other don’ts on the warning list about not Ziggling near cars, streets, pools, hills… Something that requires “continuous adult supervision” is really not much of a toy.

There are plenty of weapons on the W.A.T.C.H.’s worst of the worst, including something called the Air Storm Firetek Bow, homage to Hunger Games, no doubt. This toy is aimed at kids 8 and up, and comes with warnings about aiming at eyes, aiming at people, aiming at animals. One warning cautions about pulling arrows “back at more than half strength.” And, by the way, don’t use this “toy” in complete darkness.

Gee, who’d be tempted to use something described as follows at anything more than half strength or when the lights are out?

This “light-up power” bow and arrow set is sold with three “screaming whistle” arrows which are marketed as being able to fly “up to 145 ft!” (Source:

Well, an 8-year-old might be so tempted. Good thing they’re generally quite proficient at heeding warnings, eh?

Crappy, cheese-ball bow and arrow sets were a staple of my neighborhood, so I guess it was a miracle of sorts that no one lost an eye. But ours were crappy and cheese-ball: no “screaming whistles”, no “light-up power”, and certainly nothing that was going to fly “up to 145 ft.” 14.5 ft. Maybe.

This would definitely be off my list – or would be, if I were looking for weaponry toys for an eight year old. Oh, wait, I was – looking for a toy for an 8-year-odl, that is. I’m sure he’ll be thrilled with the piggy bank.

And how ‘bout the Catapencil?catapencil Suggested use: “target practice for your desktop.”

Hmm. The catapencil.

If you were a kid, what might you think would make for an excellent projectile to use with this?

Well, how about a sharpened pencil.

That’ll work.

Particularly given the recent death of the little boy in Ohio who was carrying a realistic looking weapon, the warning attached to the SWAT Electric Machine Gun is particularly chilling:

“CAUTIONS: This toy is a replica of a real weapon and is designed for amusement only. This is not to be used against any living beings. This product may be mistaken for an actual firearm by law enforcement officers and others”, and other cautions on packaging.

Even those who might not be tempted to pBottle Rocketut a realistic assault weapon in the hands of their kids, might be tempted by the Bottle Rocket Party.

Oh, sure, it comes with warnings about “strict supervision of adults” (yawn) and “harmful if misused.”

But what could possibly go wrong?

Ditto with the True Legends Orcs Battle Hammer, recommended for children 3+.

3Tomahawk-year-old children are encouraged to play the part of a “Savage Orc” by wielding a hard plastic “Battle Hammer” measuring almost 2 feet in length. There are no accompanying cautions or warnings.

It’s fairly well known that kids can and will turn anything into a weapon.

Not much you can do about that.

But who in their right mind is going to hand a 3-year-old a two-foot long “Battle Hammer” and have him (and, yes, we do know 99.9999% of the time it’s going to be a ‘him’) go at it.

As I said, hard to believe that there are still so many god-awful toys out there…

Be warned!


Here’s last year’s edition: You Better W.A.T.C.H. Out.

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