Toy safety is always a top priority, and it remains a critical concern, particularly at a time when families and children are entertaining themselves at home during the global pandemic. With so many schools closed and students remotely learning, parents are looking for ways to keep their children engaged and entertained. Now more than ever, parents are relying on toy manufacturers to design toys with safety as the top priority. Toys that have not been adequately tested or are poorly designed have caused injuries, disfigurements, permanent disabilities, and even tragic fatalities. In fact, an average of 240,000 children suffer toy-related injuries each year. The World Against Toys Causing Harm (WATCH) releases an annual list of the most dangerous toys so that parents can avoid purchasing those items. WATCH also urges parents to take proactive steps to make their holiday season as safe as possible.
What Toys Made the List for 2020?
WATCH’s 10 Worst Toy List for 2020 is a valuable resource that will help parents make safe choices when selecting toys for their children. According to WATCH, the following are the 10 most dangerous toys of the year; however, these are not the only potentially hazardous toys on the market:
- Calico Critters Nursery Friends. Although the toy’s packaging says that the set of cute critters is for children aged three and up, the flocked animals appeal to younger children as well. All of the Calico Critters sets come with a range of small parts, including tiny pacifiers, shoes, and other accessories that can be a serious choking hazard for younger children who tend to put small objects in their mouths.
- Missile Launcher. This toy is essentially a slingshot launcher that sends a toy missile soaring through the air. Advertised for children aged five and older, the packing does not include any warnings about potential eye or facial injuries. In addition, the act of initiating the launch occurs close to the child’s face.
- Marvel Avengers Vibranium Power FX Claw. Advertised for five-year-old children, this rigid, plastic claw is inspired by the comic book character Black Panther. However, the packaging cautions against using the toy to hit or swing at people or animals. There is a potential for eye and facial injuries.
- Gloria Owl. This may look like a harmless, cuddly toy, but the manufacturer warns consumers about the toy’s tendency to shed its long, fiber-like hairs, which can cause ingestion or aspiration injuries. The toy is marketed to children as young as 12 months old.
- WWE Jumbo Superstar Fists. This toy is recommended for children aged three and up and is meant to encourage children to emulate pro wrestling stars. The packaging does not include any warnings or cautions regarding the potential for blunt force or impact injuries.
- Scientific Explorer Sci-Fi Slime. The age recommendation for this toy is 10 years and up. Children are encouraged to create so-called GLOBS of gross gloppy goop. The packaging has a warning stating that the set includes chemicals that can be harmful if misused. For example, zinc sulfide can cause eye, skin, and respiratory irritation and is harmful if swallowed. The kit should not be used without adult supervision.
- The Original Boomerang Interactive Stunt UFO. Recommended for children aged eight and older, children are encouraged to toss it into the air and perform different stunts and tricks. The packaging urges users to toss the UFO back and forth, even though the packaging warns that hair, hands, and loose clothing should be kept away from the propeller, which can cause injuries.
- Boom City Racers Starter Pack. This toy is for children aged four and older. The race cars are sold with ripcord launchers, so children can use the set to launch and race the cars. The warning on the packaging says that the toy should not be used close to the ears or the face, and should not be launched at people or animals.
- My Sweet Love Lots to Love Babies Minis. For children ages two and up, this toy comes with a feeding set, including a bottle, plate, and spoon. The slender plastic spoon has the potential to obstruct a child’s airway.
- Star Wars Mandalorian Darksaber. This popular toy is for children ages four and older who want to pretend they are fighting characters from the Mandalorian. However, the toy is made of rigid plastic, which can cause facial and other blunt force injuries if used improperly.
What can Parents Do to Make Safe Choices When Purchasing Toys?
The global pandemic has forced parents to be extra vigilant about safety, which includes the purchasing of toys during the holiday season. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were approximately 226,100 toy-related injuries in 2018, as well as 43 fatalities between 2016 and 2018. Many of these injuries and fatalities can be prevented by taking proactive steps to make safe purchasing choices or avoid buying certain toys altogether, particularly those with small pieces that can be a serious choking hazard. During the holiday season and throughout the year, parents are urged to keep the following tips in mind:
- Examine toys in children’s toy boxes. Parents should do this on a regular basis to check for hidden hazards that may not be obvious. Toys with very small parts should be kept away from babies and toddlers who tend to put things in their mouth. Toys with sharp edges should be kept out of reach from children of all ages. In some cases, toy parts can come detached while the child is playing with the toy, which can quickly become a choking hazard for small children.
- Use caution with toys that encourage aggressive play. Toys such as the WWE Jumbo Superstar Fists or the Star Wars Mandalorian Darksaber are examples of products that encourage punching, hitting, and the use of a weapon. For example, the Star Wars Mandalorian Darksaber encourages children to swing for battle, without warning users about the potential for facial and other injuries. Some toys come with warnings that are unrealistic to follow in real life. When considering purchasing toys like these, parents should consider the risk of injuries that can occur and determine whether they are simply too dangerous.
- Shop online this year. Online shopping is expected to skyrocket this year as people continue to avoid in-person shopping during the pandemic. Although this is a convenient option, it is highly recommended that shoppers closely examine the toys once they receive them to make sure there are no unexpected hazards that could cause injuries. Parents should also keep in mind the fact that some online products may omit warnings or include warnings that are incomplete or misleading. In addition, unsafe or recalled toys are often sold on second-hand sites.
- Be a vigilant shopper. Even toys that comply with industry or regulatory standards may have unexpected hazards. Parents should avoid toys that have safety red flags, be alert for any safety traps, and inspect both new and old toys for defects. Finally, parents should not assume that a toy is safe simply because it is a popular name brand or is being sold at a well-known retailer.
The CPSC issues product recalls on toys that pose serious safety issues. However, although product recalls ensure that these unsafe toys are taken off the shelves, recalls are a reactive measure. More proactive steps need to be taken to prevent unsafe toys from making it to the shelves in the first place. Since the WATCH’s 2019 Toy Conference, the CPSC announced that there were 10 toy recalls that could cause serious injuries or fatalities. There are additional toys that were not recalled but that have real safety issues. The CPSC found evidence of substandard manufacturing practices and inadequate pre-market testing, which affected many of the toys that were recalled last year.
The toy industry manufactures roughly $28 billion worth of products for children in the United States alone. The CPSC has limited resources to oversee the more than 833,745 units of toys that are produced across the country. The CPSC needs more tools and resources to effectively oversee the way these products are designed, manufactured, and marketed. This would allow the organization to proactively address these safety issues before a child is injured or suffers a tragic fatality during the holiday season, and throughout the year.
LA Catastrophic Injury Lawyers at ACTS Law Represent Consumers Injured by Unsafe Toys
If you or someone you love was injured by an unsafe or dangerous toy, contact the LA catastrophic injury lawyers at ACTS Law as soon as possible. We will determine whether the injury was caused by a design defect, a manufacturing defect, if the packaging did not include warnings about the potential hazards associated with the toy, or if the product was recalled for safety issues. For a free consultation, call us at 833-ACTS-LAW or contact us online. Located in Los Angeles and San Diego, we serve clients throughout southern California.