Treacherous Toys to Watch Out for This Holidays Season

December 16, 2013 Updated: December 16, 2013    

NEW YORK—While Santa always makes sure the presents he puts under the tree each Christmas are safe for children, parents sometimes need a little help.

Conveniently, a list of 15 dangerous toys was released by the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) on Dec. 8. The toys are sourced from two other dangerous toy lists, but are localized for those found on New York City shelves.

Some of the children’s items found on the list, like a “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Pencil Case”, contain toxic chemicals like cadmium and phthalates at dangerous levels.

“We are supporting Senator Gillibrand’s initiative to include all children’s products in phthalate regulation”, said Megan Ahearn, program director at NYPIRG, the organization which prepared the dangerous toy list. “Right now they are heavily regulated in children’s toys but not children’s products.”

Another item on the list, “Marvel Superhero Squad Shield” tested at 2,900 parts per million for lead. While there is no amount of lead considered safe for children to ingest, the legal limit for toys is 100 parts per million.

“The Consumer Product Safety Commission tests the toys on a random basis and also inspects our ports,” explained Ahearn. “But it’s not, you know consistent testing. It’s based on the resources they have. They can’t test every toy unfortunately.”

Some of the toys like “Littlest Petshop Candyswirl Dream Collection” were labeled as a choking hazard for children up to four, but made it on the list because NYPIRG thought the warning should be for children up to 6.

The “N-Strike Bolt Blaster”, a plastic blue gun with soft bullets issues a caution not to shoot at the face, but on the back it says “Hide it in your pocket to get the drop on your unsuspecting target.”

NYPIRG felt this was a dangerous toy because it could be shot with enough force to cause an eye injury and promotes violent play.

Similarly, “Max Steel Interactive Steel With Turbo Sword” was on the list because the two foot long sword blade could cause facial or impact injuries.

While all the products on the list were made in China, Ahearn says dangerous products come from many countries and not just from developing countries either. Products from the US, Italy, and other developed countries also made it on various danger lists.

More harmful toys aren’t necessarily just the cheap ones you get at the Dollar Store either. Some of the products on the list can be found at Toys R Us, Babies R Us, and buybuybaby.com.

“If I were to speculate I would say it’s mostly honest mistakes,” said Ahearn. It may be impossible for a manufacturer to predict all the uses or misuses of their toys, but once a problem is identified Ahearn says, “That’s why [we do] the reports each year… to keep the industry on its toes.”

For a full list, visit nypirg.org

Holly Kellum is a special correspondent in New York.