Category Archives: Toys

Holiday Toy Safety

The consumer advocacy group, USPIRG, has released its annual Trouble in Toyland report highlighting toys that raise concerns because of toxic substances, choking hazards, magnets or excessive noise. All of these toys were purchased from national retailers or online.  Make this holiday a safe and happy one!

warning toy hazard photo



Dangerous Toys of 2012

If you have been wondering about the safety of children’s toys on the market this holiday season and whether certain toys are safer than others, there is an organization which has done some of the homework for you. The consumer watchdog, U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), has examined the array of toys for sale this season, and is pleased to note that “toys today are safer than they’ve ever been before, [but] there are still dangerous and/or toxic toys on store shelves.”

The group’s “Trouble in Toyland” report reviewed 200 toys purchased at toy retailers, such as Toys R Us and Target and dollar-type stores. The report issued shortly before Thanksgiving noted that there weren’t as many toxic toys on the shelves as expected. Nasima Hossain, a public health advocate with PIRG recommends parents still watch for common hazards in toys when toy shopping. Common hazards in toys can be:

  • Toys that contain sharps–anything that could cut, puncture or stick a child;
  • Toys with small detachable parts that could pose a choking hazard;
  • Toys that contain toxic chemicals, such as lead or phthalate levels higher than allowable limits;
  • Toys that require heat or electricity and could pose a fire/burn hazard;
  • Toys that explode or implode, or smoke–again, watch for a fire or inhalation hazards;
  • Toys that shoot projectiles, such as the “Dart Zone Quick Fire 12 dart gun” which was identified as having a potential to produce eye injuries;
  • Toys that could become unsafe for young children that might be safer for older children;
  • Toys that contain high-powered magnets, sold as “Bucky Balls” or toys that contain button batteries that can be swallowed;
  • Water absorbing toys that can expand if ingested, such as the Water Balz toys by Dunecraft (94,700 of these were recalled yesterday by the CPSC);
  • Toys or child furniture that are flimsy or that appear not to be well put-together (and may collapse on a child, such as the toy wooden puppet stages recalled during the year); and
  • Toys that are too loud and can be harmful to children’s ears because they exceed the current noise standards.

The PIRG identified specific toys as containing hazards, including the Dora Backpack, by Global Design Concepts Inc., for its apparently high phthalate levels, and the Dora Tunes Guitar for its excessive loudness. Another toy, “Snake Eggs” made by GreenBrier International Inc. was found to be an ingestion hazard, and the Morphbot toy, also by GreenBrier, was identified as having high lead levels. The “Just Like Home 120-piece Super Play Food Sets” sold by Toys R Us, were identified as containing choking hazards for small children, as were the “Pullback Dragster Cars by Z Wind Ups” found to have choking hazards and warning labels too small to be easily read. wishes you a safe and healthy holiday season!

Holiday Toy Safety

This week, holiday toy catalogs are loading up mailboxes throughout the country. Having reviewed several of them and the toys they advertise with mixed feelings, I believe parents, caregivers and family members need to watch out for some unsafe toys on the market this season.

There are brightly colored, attractive plastic toys–sold under reputable brand names that bear little or no warnings about having possibly detachable parts. And it’s not only children’s toys to watch out for: Adult desk toys can easily get into the hands of little ones and sometimes contain magnets or small balls. There are quite a number of toys that look cool but could create dangers for young children. If you think a toy could be unsafe, it probably is. Some toys which are okay for older children can create trouble for a little one, such as toys with small parts or balls that could get lodged in a throat or windpipe, toys that use heat or electricity to run them, or contain chemicals, or coins. If there are toddlers in the home, you can expect them to be curious, so you need think about the safety of the entire family when purchasing toys.

Many people not only buy toys for their own children but often for the children of friends and relatives. One helpful hint when buying toys for other children is to contact their parents to learn what they already have in their toy chest and, not only what they like, but what type of toy their parents would approve of them receiving. Beyond the type of toy, parents also need to think about what children are ready to play with–stretching a child’s capabilities can be good, but giving a child a toy that is far beyond the level of their hand-eye coordination, for example, or for which they have not reached a certain level of learning could create a safety disaster as well as disappointment.

For young children, toys to avoid are toys with sharp edges, small detachable parts, “bucky” balls, small magnets, attachments, or batteries that can be swallowed, and toys with lead paint or that contain toxic materials. Plush toys that are too big for small children and toys with plastic or rubber masks also present the danger of suffocation, and they are on the market. KidsHealth from Nemours[1][1] suggests the following when going to purchase toys:

  • If purchasing toys made of fabric, they should be labeled as flame resistant or flame retardant;
  • Stuffed toys need to be washable;
  • Toys that are painted need to be painted with lead-free, non-toxic paint;
  • Art supplies need to be labeled “non-toxic”;
  • Crayons and paints should say “ASTM D-4236 on the package which means they have been evaluated by the American Society for Testing and Materials;
  • Avoid older toys which are hand-me-downs, or worn out toys that can break and become hazardous;
  • Make sure if a toy makes sounds that the sounds are not too loud for your child–especially when a little one holds it close to their ears!

We hope these hints are helpful to you as you shop for safe toys this season!

A Safety Update on Button Batteries and Magnets

by Marianne Frederick is pleased that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has set standards for children’s products and toys that bear magnets, so you may not see the tiny batteries and magnets formerly used in many children’s toys. But, adult desk and “stress relief” toys containing those same small magnets and batteries have produced another challenge: Young kids are still getting hold of button batteries and magnets and swallowing them, sometimes with disastrous results.

Parents and caregivers, when you think about giving a gift this holiday season, if the gift requires batteries, take a look at the size of the batteries and/or magnets and if they are tiny and can be swallowed by a child in the gift recipient’s family, nix the gift. Consider giving another type of desk decoration.

You will also find the disc-shaped magnets and tiny batteries in singing greeting cards and jewelry, so please keep your eyes peeled and keep products with small or loose magnets away from young children who might swallow them. In addition, don’t buy magnets sold in sets of 100 or more, as it could be hard to tell if a few magnets disappear. Have a talk with bigger kids about the dangers of magnets and using them as fake piercings in their mouths or noses… big kids can get hurt by magnets too. If a relative or holiday visitor in your home wears or removes a hearing aid that uses the tiny batteries, ask them not to leave the batteries anywhere a child can get to them.

Be aware of the symptoms of magnet/battery ingestion:

  • Abdominal pain, vomiting and fever. Since these symptoms are common in kids and not always caused by ingesting magnets/batteries or other objects, you may not suspect what has transpired immediately.
  • Treatment should not be delayed–the possibility of severe injuries to the digestive tract, stomach, intestines–and even death–are possible.
  • Contact your pediatrician or take your child to the nearest emergency room immediately if you suspect your child has swallowed or been injured by a magnet or button battery. If there are any signs of choking or respiratory difficulty, CALL 911.

If a child in your home is injured from swallowing a small magnet or button battery, after you have attended to your child’s needs, please report the injury to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, by visiting on the Internet, or by calling 1-800-638-2772.

Toys ‘R’ Us Recalls Imaginarium Activity Center

Toys ‘R’ Us rarely recalls toys as we have learned over the years, however, the CPSC and Toys ‘R’ Us are voluntarily recalling approximately 24,000 Imaginarium Activity Centers due to a choking hazard. The problem is the five-sided wooden Imaginarium Activity Center has small wooden knobs which attach xylophone keys to the activity center and can detach, causing a choking hazard to young children. The Imaginarium was manufactured in China and imported to the U.S. by Toys ‘R’ Us.

Fortunately, there have only been eight reports of the knobs detaching and no reports of injuries thus far. Consumers will find the model number 46284, the Toys ‘R’ Us item number 295909, and the barcode number000799985462841 printed on the box the Imaginarium came in, not on the product itself.

The Imaginarium Activity Center was sold throughout the nation at Toys “R” Us stores and online via from August 2009 through September 2010 for approximately $25.

Consumers are advised to completely remove this toy from children’s access and return it to Toys ‘R’ Us for a full refund or store credit. Consumers can contact Toys “R” Us on their toll-free number at 1(800) 869-7787 between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Saturday and between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday, or visit the firm’s website at

To view a photo of the Imaginarium Activity Center, please visit CPSC’s website at:

9,000 “Big Mover Super Car” Toy Trucks Recalled Due to Fire Hazard!

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in cooperation with Happy Shirts of Honolulu, Hawaii and Kohl’s, has recalled 9,000 toy trucks sold in gift packages that accompanied boys’ “Happy Tee-shirts”. The toy trucks are the Big Movers Super Car toy trucks that were gifts with the purchase of Big Movers tee-shirts (in sizes small, medium and large).

While the boys’ tee-shirts might make parents happy, the trucks certainly will not, as connections in the toy truck’s battery compartment can smolder and catch on fire, posing a fire and burn hazard to the child playing with the truck. Happy Shirts has received a report of one toy truck catching fire and three additional reports of toy trucks having smoldered when the batteries were placed in the toy trucks. To-date no reports of injuries have been received.

The trucks were manufactured in China, imported by Happy Shirts of Honolulu, Hawaii, and sold exclusively by Kohl’s between February 2012 and March 2012 for about $20. The blue toy trucks are 4 inches in length, have oversized tires and a flashing light on the top of the truck. A yellow, red and blue logo appears on the hood of the toy truck. (In addition, the trucks are noted to have small parts and represent a choking hazard for children less than 3 years of age.)

Parents need to remove the toy trucks from their children’s access and remove the battery in the truck. Consumers may contact the firm, Happy Shirts, for instructions on obtaining a refund by calling toll-free at (855) 354-2779 between noon and 8 p.m. PT (9 a.m. to 5 p.m. HT) Monday through Friday or visit the firm’s website at

For photos of the Big Movers Super Car toy truck and the tee shirts that accompanied them, parents can visit the CPSC website at

Some Recalled Products Are Still Out There!

Parents and caregivers may be dismayed to learn that some recalled products are still out there and kids are playing with and using them. With the tremendous amount of information available about recalls, one could assume that parents and caregivers are aware of children’s toy, clothing, furniture, medicine and even nutritional product recalls. After all, there’s the Internet, most recalls of children’s products get a sound byte on the TV news programs and videos of faulty products make the rounds on social networking sites. But the truth is some products which have been recalled, have been re-sold. Recently, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced that some products originally sold by Meijer were found to have been resold by discounters after the products had been recalled. The products originally recalled were found to have been subsequently offered for sale at discount retailers, dollar stores, liquidation firms, flea markets and thrift stores nationwide at various prices. Those products include:

  • The Infantino “Sling Rider” Baby Sling – the Sling Rider baby sling was originally recalled in March 2010. The dates it continued to be resold were from March 2010 through July 2011. The reason for the recall was the slings posed a suffocation hazard to infants and children younger than 4 months old. If you have purchased one of these baby slings, please contact Infantino toll-free at 1(866) 860-1361 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Pacific Time, Monday through Friday, or visit the firm’s website at
  • Fisher-Price Ocean Wonders Kick n’ Crawl Aquarium (H8094) – The original recall date was September 2010. It also continued to be resold from September 2010 through July 2011. The reason for the recall was the inflatable ball in the toy which can become detached from the toy and pose a choking hazard to young children. Consumers can call Fisher-Price at 1(800) 432-5437 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, or visit the firm’s website at
  • Fisher-Price Little People Wheelies Stand n’ Play Rampway – The toy was originally recalled in September 2010. It continued to be resold from September 2010 through July 2011. The reason the toy was recalled was wheels on the purple and the green cars can become detached from the toy, again, posing a choking hazard to young children.
  • Munchkin Bathtub Subs – This was originally recalled October 18, 2010–The hazard was the intake valve on the bottom of the submarine toy can suck up loose skin, posing laceration hazard to children. This product, too, continued to be sold after its recall date until July 2011. Parents can call Munchkin at (877) 242-3134 anytime or visit the company’s website at
  • Fisher-Price Barbie Tough Trikes (M5727) and Fisher-Price Kawasaki Tough Trikes-Both recalled September 2010 and continued to be sold until July 2011. The hazard was the child can strike, sit or fall on the protruding plastic ignition key resulting in serious injury.

As parents and caregivers, we also need to think “caveat emptor” for “Buyer beware!”– or Be Aware of children’s products which look like they might not be safe. If it looks unsafe, if it has too many small parts, has too sharp edges, makes too loud noises, or like it might not roll safely or sit well, yes, be aware of possible safety concerns. You can always leave it on the shelf and check it out on the recall website before purchasing, and please continue to follow us on so we can keep you informed.

Guidecraft and CPSC Recall Children’s Dramatic Play 4-in-1 Puppet Theater

This is one example of a great idea for a children’s toy gone bad for its lack of safety where young children are involved. The 4-in-1 Dramatic Play Theater was a great idea. Children love to express themselves during play with puppets. But here’s a theater that can tip over on the children who are playing or simply watching the fun. A little more care in the manufacture could have made play with this particular children’s toy item a great deal safer.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Health Canada and Guidecraft Inc. of Winthrop, Minnesota, announced March 13 that it is recalling 1,800 in the U.S., and 350 in Canada, Dramatic Play 4-in-1 Puppet Theaters, model number G51062, because the toy theaters pose tipping and entrapment hazards to young children. The CPSC has received several complaints, including two reports of the theater tipping over, one report involving injury to a young child.

This toy theater looks as though it is made of wood–or something that looks like wood–from the photos in the recall notice. The structure’s composition is not stated in the recall announcement. The puppet theater weighs about 46 pounds. If a 5 lb. bag of sugar falls on your foot, you would certainly feel it. Multiply that weight by 10, add to that the height from which the item is falling and the velocity of tipping, and imagine what the puppet theater’s tipping over could do to a young child!

A few adjustments in the manufacture of this toy puppet theater–which was made in China–might have made this a much safer play item. It is difficult to comprehend how this particular item was imported and sold to over 2,000 consumers for children’s use and play before it was noted that the puppet theater was “tippy”. Since this particular toy did not come assembled, the retailer would have assembled it one or more times for display or demonstration purposes. However, it was sold mostly through catalogs and by Guidecraft’s online and other online stores nationwide–so it might have been difficult for consumers to find that the theater was unstable until it was assembled.

These play theaters were sold from July 2010 through April 2011 for about $180. Guidecraft also currently advertises another floor-based toy puppet theater on their website, called the “Center Stage Puppet Theater,” which sells for about $135, appears to be similarly constructed, weighs 26 pounds, but apparently has not been recalled due to any complaints or problems. We advise caution in purchasing any floor-based or table top puppet theater for children’s use that might be questionable in the safety category, and we urge parents to see an assembled model in person if possible before purchasing.

To help consumers and parents identify the 4-in-1 Dramatic Play Theater, it has two interchangeable panels with different themes on each side, including puppet theater, diner, doctor’s office and post office. Model number G51062 can be found in the assembly instructions and also printed on a sticker affixed to the bottom of the center crossbar. The dimensions of the assembled puppet theater are 4 feet high by 3 feet wide. To view photos of the 4-in-1 Dramatic Play Theater, consumers may go to the CPSC website at:

This 4-in-1 Dramatic Play Theater should be removed from children’s access and parents and consumers should contact Guidecraft for a refund or to receive a replacement product. Guidecraft’s toll free number is 1(888) 824-1308 and may be reached by calling anytime from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Central Time Monday through Friday. Consumers may also visit the company’s website at

Did Your Child Receive the Super Luchamania Action Figures as a Gift?

By Marianne Frederick

There are some children’s toys which could give parents and children a headache–like the Super Luchamania Action Figures. They were made in Mexico and the surface paint on them contains an excessive amount of lead violating the federal standards for lead paint in children’s toys.

Approximately 7,000 packs of the Super Luchamania Action Figures, which were sold in packs of 12, are being recalled, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced yesterday, in cooperation with importer, Lee Carter Company of San Francisco, California.

Why is excessive lead in surface paint on toys dangerous to children? According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Basic Information on Lead in Paint, Dust and Soil, lead can be absorbed by a child’s body more readily than an adult’s. As we know, babies and young children often put toys in their mouths. Some painted toys can even have lead dust on them. Children’s brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead. If not detected, children with high levels of lead in their bodies can suffer from different maladies including damage to the brain and nervous system, behavior and learning problems, such as hyperactivity, slowed growth, hearing problems, and headaches, to name only a few.

Please take a look in your children’s toy box to check whether these toys are there. The multi-colored Super Luchamania male action figures are made of plastic, have various colored plastic capes and measure about four inches tall. “Super Luchamania” is printed on the action figures’ package. The packs of 12 action figures were sold by Mexican specialty craft stores throughout the United States from June 2000 through October 2011 for between $12 and $14 per pack.

Parents and caregivers should remove the action figures from children’s access and return them to Lee Carter Company for a full refund or credit toward another Lee Carter product. Consumers may contact Lee Carter Co. by calling collect at 1(415) 824-2004 anytime, or visiting the firm’s website at

To view a photo of the Super Luchamania Action Figures, please visit the CPSC website at:

Build-A-Bear Troubles: Bear Recall and $600K Defective Toy Settlement

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with Build-A-Bear Workshops and Health Canada, has announced a recall of 297,200 Colorful Hearts Teddy Bears from markets in the U.S. (284,000) and Canada (13,200). The toy has been recalled due to the presence of a possible choking hazard. The 16″ teddy bear’s black plastic eyes can become loose and detach from the toy, making the plastic eyes a choking hazard to young children.

The recall of this toy, a colorful, plush, stuffed animal manufactured in China, came less than two weeks following a $600,000 settlement of a civil penalty against Build-A-Bear. Build-A-Bear had been cited for failing to immediately report a defective toy beach chair, of which 260,000 were sold from 2001 through 2008. The CPSC had received ten reports of injuries believed to be caused by the defective toy. It’s important to note that Federal law requires that manufacturers, distributors and retailers must report to the CPSC within 24 hours after receiving information that reasonably supports the conclusion a product contains a defect, which could create a substantial product hazard, or an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death, or fails to comply with any consumer product safety rule or any other rule, regulation, standard or ban enforced by CPSC.

The Colorful Hearts Teddy Bear was sold by Build-A-Bear Workshops throughout the U.S. and online at from April through December 2011 for $18 (U.S.) and $23.00 (Canada).  Parents and caregivers need to remove this toy from their children’s access and return it to any Build-A-Bear store to receive a coupon for any available stuffed animal from Build-A-Bear.

For information and return instructions, consumers can contact the firm on their toll-free number at (866) 236-5683 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Central Time, Monday through Friday, on Saturday between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. and on Sunday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.  They can also visit the firm’s website or contact the company to receive more information by email at

To view a photo of the Build-A-Bear Colorful Hearts Teddy, please visit the CPSC website at