Consumer Watchdog Organization Publishes Dangerous Toys Watch List

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February 21, 2021
Edward Smith

WATCH Dangerous Toys List for 2020

Personal injury claims based upon products liability for dangerous toys are unfortunately a far too common experience for personal injury attorneys. Most toy manufacturers and retailers try hard to design, manufacture, distribute, and sell products that are both enjoyable and safe for children to use. Unfortunately, some do not try as hard as others. And even among reputable toy manufacturers and retailers, there will sometimes be dangerous toys that slip through the cracks and make it into the hands of children.

Novelty is considered a major feature for toys – they need to be “new” and interesting to engage children’s interest and attract their parents’ money. This results in a large portion of all toys that are manufactured being relatively new and untested each year. So those consumer watchdog groups and government regulators who collect data and review toy safety have a huge volume of new products to examine annually. Yearly reviews of dangerous toys that can cause injury or even death are sadly nothing new.

Since 1973, the organization World Against Toys Causing Harm — better known as “WATCH” — is one group that has been publishing an annual “worst toys” list. The organization’s purpose is to educate the public about products targeted at children that may be unsafe or even harmful.

How Widespread is the Problem?

WATCH states that on average, a child shows up in a U.S. emergency room roughly every 3 minutes with an injury related to a toy or other children’s product — nearly a quarter-million such instances every year. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission reported that in 2019, an estimated 224,200 injuries requiring emergency room treatment resulted from toys nationwide, with a total of 53 toy-related deaths from 2017 through 2019. Among children 4 years of age and younger, the emergency room treatment rate for toy-related injuries was 402 per 100,000 children or about 1 out of every 250 children.

Organizations like WATCH stress that safe toys begin with proper development, manufacture, and marketing by toy-makers. Those manufacturers — along with toy retailers — bear the largest responsibility for toy safety because of their much greater knowledge and awareness of the dangers than the general public. Of course, parents and relatives purchasing the toys should also consider their safety, especially concerning toys intended for the youngest children. Toy safety warnings from groups like WATCH and recall information from consumer agencies like the Consumer Product Safety Commission are valuable resources for parents.

Who is WATCH’s Worst Ten for 2020?

WATCH’s 2020 list highlights these toys for greatest concern:

  • Calico Critters Nursery Friends” — Intended for children age 3 and up, this package of toy critters presents a choking hazard for young children with small detachable parts that may tempt “oral-age” children. The popular toys are manufactured by Epoch Co. Ltd. and sold through major retailers like Walmart, Amazon, and many others.
  • Missile Launcher” — Produced by toy-maker Toysmith and sold through stores like Home Goods, this toy is labeled for children age 5 and up. In addition to having small parts that may present a choking hazard for younger children, there is also a hazard for eye injuries if this “launcher” — similar to a slingshot — were used to fire its missile close to a child’s face, which is just what is pictured on the packaging.
  • Marvel Avengers Vibranium Power FX Claw” — Capitalizing on recent Marvel movies featuring the “Black Panther” character, this toy produced by toy-making giant Hasbro and sold through multiple major retailers has rigid plastic claws that present a danger for eye and face injuries despite its caution (aimed at children as young as 5) not to strike with the claws at people or animals.
  •  “Gloria Owl” — Manufactured by Jellycat and sold through Amazon, Home Goods, Saks Fifth Avenue, and other retailers, this plush toy recommended for infants as young as 12 months presents a danger for aspiration or ingestion of fabric fibers that can be shed from the toy. Presumably, the manufacturer was even aware of this since a tear-away tag mentions the possible problem.
  • WWE Jumbo Superstar Fists” — Produced by Jakks Pacific Inc., these “simulated gloves” give their intended 3-year-old audience giant fists to help them pretend to be professional wrestling stars. The toy includes a caution that the toy should not be used as a protective device — that is, as actual gloves — but makes no warning of the possible dangers of blunt force injuries from encouraging glove-wearing 3-year-olds from pretending to have “superstar fists.”
  • Scientific Explorer Sci-Fi Slime” — From manufacturer Alex Brands-Scientific Explorer and sold by Kohl’s, Amazon, and, this toy set has several chemicals that can produce injury if not used properly. Although a warning notes it is not to be used “except under adult supervision,” the product is aimed at children as young as 10, who are themselves less likely to rigorously read and follow the instructions and warning notes, such as on the packet of zinc sulfide that cautions about “eye, skin, and respiratory irritation. Harmful if swallowed.”
  • The Original Boomerang Interactive Stunt UFO” — Produced by Amax Group and carried by retailers like Target and Walmart, this toy for children 8 years and up is a propeller-driven “boomerang UFO” that can present dangers for both users and anyone and anything nearby. Although it contains warnings about potential damage from its propeller, the toy packaging also suggests users “catch” the toy by passing the “UFO back and forth to friends.”
  • “Wars Mandalorian Darksaber” — Manufactured and Distributed by Hasbro and Disney, this toy is sold by several major retailers, including Target, Amazon, Walmart, and BestBuy. Its enclosed caution not to “swing, poke or jab at people or animals” might not be read by its targeted age audience — 4-years-old and up — although those young children who may manage to read the caution might also be ready to follow the packaging’s suggestion to “SWING FOR BATTLE!” An obvious hazard for blunt force and eye injuries for such a young audience.

Watch YouTube Video: Here are the most dangerous toys of 2020. The video below discusses a Consumer Watchdog group’s most dangerous toys of 2020.

Sacramento Products Liability Attorney

Hello – I’m Ed Smith, a products liability lawyer in Sacramento, California. If a child in your family has been injured by one of the toys on this list or any other dangerous or unsafe toy, please call us at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 and speak with our injury attorneys. You can also contact our office by using this online contact form.

Photo by Victoria Borodinova from Pexels

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