Thursday, December 01, 2016

Yesterday it was the best of toys, today’s it’s the worst of toys

It looks like, toy-wise, Pink Slip really fell down on the job last year. Not only did we miss the announcement of the inductees into the Toy Hall of Fame, but we also failed to report on the W.A.T.C.H. list of the year’s “10 Worst Toys.” But we’re making up for it in 2016. Yesterday we covered to Hall of Famers. All hail the humble swing! And today we’ll fill you in on the W.A.T.C.H. list.

W.A.T.C.H. is World Against Toys Causing Harm, a Boston non-profit dedicated “to educating the public about dangerous children’s products and protecting children from harm.” Which is certainly a good thing, given that:

From 1990 to 2011, there was a 40% increase in toy-related injuries. In 2014, there were over 251,000 toy-related injuries and 61 children died in toy-related incidents between 2010 and 2014. (Source: W.A.T.C.H.)

Despite these numbers, I’m pretty sure that toys in general are a lot safer than they were back when I was a kid. (Among the hazardous toys I recall were a plug in iron that actually heated up (my safety-conscious mother replaced the plug with a suction cup); a toy poodle with easily removable eyes that were fastened using a weapon-like cork screw; and Creeple Peeple, whichcame with a mold for making weird plastic pencil toppers – a mold that heated up to about a million degrees.) But there are a lot more toys now, and they’re made in a lot more places than they used to be.

When I look through the list, it’s amazing that some of the toys exist to begin with. Shouldn’t there be enough good parental judgment to keep something like the Slimeball Slinger from finding a place for itself Slimeball-Slingerunder the Christmas tree? I realize that there are plenty of kids – especially those of the boy variety – who would give their eye teeth (or even an eye) for one of these. But do we really need a consumer watch dog to tell parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles not to weaponize their kids by buying this for a six year old? And if someone completely lacking in judgment bought it, I’d like to think that someone in the household might disappear this “toy” quick.

Same goes for the Warcraft Doomhammer.

6-year-old children are encouraged to “[f]eel the power of the horde!” with the “legendary Doomhammer,” DoomHammerbased on weaponry in the “Warcraft” movie. The manufacturer offers no warnings regarding potential impact injuries associated with foreseeable use of the heavy, rigid plastic battle hammer.

Yep. There should be a warning, but I’m guessing that someone who would believe that it’s a good thing to let a kid “feel the power of the horde” isn’t going to read, let alone heed, the fine print.

Let’s face it, kids are perfectly capable of making a weapon out of anything. Letting them do so at least encourages creativity and inventiveness. Look ma, I’m repurposing! The Doomhammer, on the other hand, seems a matter of permission granted to knock another kid on the noggin.

I never would have been inclined to gift some kiddo with a Slimeball Slinger or Warcraft Doomhammer. But I Elephant-Pillowsure would have considered buying something that looks like the Elephant Pillow. It comes with no warnings, and you have to read the product description to learn that:

“When this elephant pillow [is] for use with infant, it should be under adult supervision”

Nothing like to toy that that requires adult supervision when it’s one that a lot of people would put in the crib with their child without thinking twice. Especially when it’s “marketed with an image on the retailer’s website depicting an infant snuggling alone with the plush animal.” As it turns out, infant pillows and the like are banned by the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, i.e., they can’t be promoted for children under the age of one because of the possibility of suffocation. So just say ‘no’ to the elephant pillow for your infant.

What else is on this year’s bad toy list?

Peppa Pig’s Muddy Puddles Family – choking hazard and mixed signals on the age warning. Too bad, because they’re sort of cute.

Banzai Bump N’ Bounce Body Bumpers – This product comes with a warning about how “to avoid risk of serious injury or death” by equipping your 4-12 year old with “protective equipment for head, elbows, knees, hands, etc.”My take: best to avoid any toy with the word “Banzai” in it.

Nerf Rival Apollo XV-700 Blaster – For those of your list who are 14+, this is a plastic gun that shoots Nerf ammo that looks like yellow ping pong balls that one could knock the enemy’s eye out with. “Images on the box depict children wearing masks covering their face and eyes, however the face mask is “not included” and must be purchased separately.” Nuf said.

The Good Dinosaur: Galloping Butch. I’ll take their word that Butch is a good dinosaur, but his rigid tail has the potential to cause “significant puncture wound injuries.” Sounds kind of bad dinosaur-ish to me.

Peppy Pups is a pull toy that comes with a cord that’s toy long for comfort. Think Isadora Duncan. Or not.

Flying Heroes Superman Launcher. Look, up in the sky! That could be a plastic fantastic Superman, launched by a 4 year old encouraged to “grip it and rip it”, while also being warned “never to aim at eyes or face.” Sure. Four year olds are well known for their excellent ability to follow instructions – especially ones they’re supposed to have read.

Baby Magic Feed and Play Baby. Your toddler feeds Baby Magic with an “interactive spoon”. Whatever “interactive spoon” means, this one is under 3” long and, given how two year olds interact with objects like spoons, this one could “be mouthed and occlude a child’s airway.”

All I can say is caveat toy emptor – and thanks to the watchers at W.A.T.C.H.

Missed last year, but I was on my game in 2014.

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