Superheroes may be a hit at the box office, but some of the toys being spun off of the movie franchises aren't finding fans among consumer safety advocates.
The Wonder Woman Battle-Action Sword and the Spider-Man Official Movie Spider-Drone are among the “10 Worst Toys of 2017,” an annual list from a Boston-based nonprofit called World Against Toys Causing Harm, or WATCH.
The list also includes fan favorites like the Itty bittys stacking toy by Hallmark that was recalled last summer.
Strings, small parts, rigid surfaces, projectile pieces and toys that emit toxic substances are all potentially unsafe when it comes to toys, warned WATCH President Joan Siff and Director James Swartz at a press conference.
"It's alarming that there are so many toys out there that are unsafe," Siff told USA TODAY. "These are not the only ones." Since December, there have been 15 toy recalls in the U.S., according to Siff.
But the Toy Association, an industry group, said the list creates unnecessary panic. All toys sold in the U.S. must meet the requirements of more than 100 safety and standards tests before they can be sold, according to Joan Lawrence, senior vice president of the association,
“We see WATCH do this every year and it’s frightening to consumers,” Lawrence said. “These are not products that consumers should be concerned about.”
Some of the items on the list, Lawrence pointed out, aren’t toys, such as the Slackers Slackline Classic Kit, which falls under the category of sporting goods and thus has different federal requirements for distribution.
Instead, Lawrence suggested parents buy from retailers they know and trust, follow age requirements and safety instructions on toy packages and demonstrate safe play with children.
WATCH cited statistics from the Consumer Product Safety Commission that said in 2015, there were more than 254,000 toy-related injuries and warned shoppers not to be “lulled into a false sense of security that a toy is safe because of a familiar brand name on a package.”
However, the term “toy-related,” Lawrence said, does not mean an injury was caused by a toy. Rather, she said, a toy was nearby when an accident happened.
All agree parents should examine toys before giving them to children to look for any potential hazard.
"There are still thousands of toys that pass these so-called standards tests that are not safe," Siff said. "The standards that exist should be a floor—not a ceiling—for safety."
The U.S. toy industry generates approximately $26 billion each year in sales, according to the NPD Group. Here is WATCH's list:
1. Itty bittys baby plush stacking toy by Hallmark.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a recall on the product on Aug. 31 because of the small fabric hats and bows that were detachable and posed a choking hazard. But WATCH said they purchased the toy online after the recall was announced.
2. Pull Along Pony by Tolo Toys Limited.
WATCH said the product violates a federal law that requires that strings on playpen and crib toys be less than 12 inches long. The Tolo toy’s cord is 19 inches long. But the Toy Associaton said pull-along toys are an exception to this rule because the purpose is to teach motor skills.
3. Wonder Woman Battle-Action Sword by Mattel.
The nonprofit warns consumers that the stiff plastic sword can cause facial damage or other injuries to children.
4. Hand Fidgetz Spinners by Kipp Brothers.
Fidget spinners are meant for antsy kids, but WATCH said many come with small parts that can easily become loose or pulled off.
5. Spider-Man Spider-Drone Official Movie Edition by Marvel and Skyrocket Toys
The drone comes with rapidly moving blades to help propel it into the air. The toy comes with a warning to keep moving parts away from fingers, hair, eyes and other body parts. WATCH said this is dangerous for children, which the drone is marketed toward.
6. Nerf Zombie Strike Dreadbolt Crossbow by Hasbro and Nerf.com.
The crossbow toy can cause eye and facial injuries. WATCH said the crossbow is inappropriate for small children.
7. Slackers Slackline Classic Kit by Brand 44.
This outdoor tightrope is marketed as an activity for all ages but comes with a warning of “severe injury,” including a chance for “strangulation hazard, especially with children.”
8. The Oval Xylophone by Plan Toys Inc. and Plan Creations
The wooden instrument can be found online and is marketed to children as young as 12 months old. WATCH said that the toy does not come with a warning regarding the 9-and-a-half-inch-long stick, which could be placed in the child’s mouth and obstruct the child’s airway.
9. Jetts Heel Wheels by Razor USA
The mini-roller skate-like devices are meant to be attached to the back of a child’s shoes to create the effect of a rear-wheel roller skate. The product comes with sparklers on the back that spark while moving. The manufacturer warns users to “keep sparks away from eyes, hair, exposed skin and clothing. Sparks can burn.”
10. Brianna Babydoll by Melissa & Doug.
The dolls are marketed to children as young as 18 months, but have removable clothes and ponytail holders, which WATCH said could be a choking hazard.
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