US Consumer company lists 10 worst toys for kids

By Drum Digital
20 November 2014

A light-up bow whose arrows are advertised as flying up to 145 feet (44.2 meters) and the "Catapencil" - a pencil with a miniature slingshot-style launcher on its end - are on an annual list of unsafe toys released Wednesday by a Massachusetts consumer watchdog group.

World Against Toys Causing Harm, or W.A.T.C.H., issued the "10 Worst Toys" list to remind parents and consumers of the potential hazards in some toys as the holiday shopping season gets underway.

Organizers, who have been compiling the lists for over four decades, said the toys singled out this year are representative of some of the typical problems they come across, and aren't the only potentially dangerous products on the market.

"It's not so much about the specific toys. It's about the hazards," James Swartz, the group's director, said at a news conference at the Franciscan Hospital for Children.

Many toys, he said, continue to have the same hazardous designs, including small, detachable parts that infants can choke on; strings that can cause strangulation; dangerous projectiles; and misleading or confusing warning labels and instructions.

Dr. Penny Norman, who developed ScienceWiz's "Bottle Rocket Party," was surprised the company's kit, which includes rocket tubes, stoppers and yellow "caution tape" but not other necessary or recommended items, such as a bicycle pump or safety goggles, made the list.

She said the idea for the kits, which have been on the market since about 2005 and retail for around $15, came after doing homemade bottle rocket experiments with children at summer camps and after-school programs in the Berkeley, California, area.

Robert Pasin, Radio Flyer's "Chief Wagon Officer" and a grandson of the founder, maintained that the company's four-wheeled "Ziggle" cycle, which W.A.T.C.H. criticized because it's low to the ground, is safe.

The Toy Industry Association said American toy safety standards "remain the most protective in the world" and that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the federal agency responsible for monitoring the safety of toys, "consistently" ranks toys among the safest of 15 consumer product categories commonly found in the home.

Joan Siff, W.A.T.C.H.'s president, noted that there have been at least 17 toy recalls representing over 4.8 million units of toys in the U.S. and Canada so far in 2014. She urged parents to be extra vigilant during the holiday season, when W.A.T.C.H. says more than 65 percent of toys are sold.

Here's W.A.T.C.H.'s full list of "worst toys" for 2014:

-"Air Storm Firetek Bow" by Zing

-"Ziggle" four-wheeled cycle by Radio Flyer

-"Catapencil" by Toysmith

-"Alphabet Zoo Rock & Stack Pull Toy" by Skip Hop

-"SWAT Electric Machine Gun" by Junxing Toys Industrial Co.

-"Wooden Instruments" sold at Wal-Mart

-"Bottle Rocket Party" by Norman & Globus (ScienceWiz)

-"Lil' Cutesies-Best Friends" doll by JC Toys Group

-"True Legends Orcs Battle Hammer" sold at Toys R Us

-"Colored Hedgehog" plush toy sold at Toys R Us

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