Tue | Nov 21, 2017

Consumer safety group unveils its 'worst toys' list

Published:Wednesday | November 15, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Fidget spinners, a plastic Wonder Woman battle sword, and a remote-controlled Spider-Man 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 non-profit organisation has been releasing the lists for more than four decades to inform consumers about potential toy hazards.

The Toy Association, an industry trade group, dismissed the list as "needlessly frightening" to parents because all toys sold in the US meet "rigorous" safety standards. It also criticised the organisation for not testing the toys it focuses on.

National toy safety standards are "inadequate," as can been seen by the high number of recalls each year, WATCH President Joan Siff said.

The non-profit says there have been at least 15 recalls representing nearly two million units of dangerous toys since December.

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 one but has a 19-inch 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 particularly consumer-to-consumer and second-hand transactions 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 organisation 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 on to 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.

- AP