The stuffed and the slimy: These are the most dangerous Christmas toys

Photo by Andrew Neel
Photo by Andrew Neel

The words' Dangerous' and 'Children's Toys and Products' just don't make sense in the same sentence, but according to World Against Toys Causing Harm (W.A.T.C.H), toys have the potential to cause injury and even death. 

We know, major blow to the festive vibes, as if finding the perfect Christmas gift wasn't hard enough.

But if anyone should be aware of just how dangerous toys can be, it's you, parents (sorry!). 

Who is W.A.T.C.H? 

Founded by US attorney, Edward M. Swartz, who regularly faced cases involving toy-related injuries, W.A.T.C.H knows their stuff and each year the non-profit releases its 10 worst toys list - some of which are sold in South Africa.

Find the full list here

For DSC Attorneys partner, Kirstie Haslam, a "lack of legislation" means it's not unusual for hazardous toys to end up in your child's Christmas stocking. 

"In South Africa, thousands of potentially dangerous toys hit the shelves which end up in the hands of children because of the lack of legislation ensuring toys that are sold are safe," she warns, adding that toy manufacturers are by law required to follow the minimum requirements set out by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS). 

Yet despite this, W.A.T.C.H says toy manufacturers continue to produce the same unsafe toys year after year to the point where they've now come up with the term 'classic toy dangers' to describe the hazards. 

According to W.A.T.C.H, classic toy dangers include toys with: 

  • small parts
  • strings
  • projectiles
  • toxic substances
  • rigid materials 
  • inadequate warnings, cautions and age recommendations

Surprising additions to the list

While identifying unsafe toys may seem easy enough, you may be surprised at what ended up on this year's list. Here's a look at the least obvious of the top ten. 

Cuddly toys with long hair 

W.A.T.C.H ranked a soft cuddly toy with long, fibre-like hair at number 4 on their list. So listed, due to the the potential for ingestion or aspiration injuries, since the hairs were found to be easily removed with minimal tugging.

The toy is comes with an age recommendation of 24 months and older. 

Slimy frozen treats 

Why make toys look edible when the warning labels reads: "Warning: this set contains chemicals that may be harmful if misused"?

The product comes in tubs mimicking ice-cream with flavours like ‘mint chocolate chip’ and ‘berry smoothie’. According to the manufacturers, the toys is suitable for children aged 6 and older. 

Toy bus 

What's so bad about a miniature bus?

According to W.A.T.C.H, it's that the warning label reading ‘choking hazard’ comes off way too easily for a product meant for a 3-year-old.

The toy bus' plastic wheels are also easily removable, posing an a very real risk.  

What to do if your child sustains a toy-related injury

Under South African law, manufacturers, retailers, distributors and suppliers can all be held liable for damages caused by defective or hazardous products.

“If you or a dependent are injured by a dangerous toy that doesn’t carry the required warnings, you might be entitled to claim damages,” Haslam says. 

However, these types of personal injury cases are complex, so seeking the help of a lawyer with experience in handling product liability claims involving injuries to children, is strongly advised. 

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