Watchdog lists '10 worst' toys NOT to give kids this holiday season

Watchdog lists '10 worst' toys NOT to give kids this holiday season
World Against Toys Causing Harm Inc. (WATCH) has listed the ten worst toys for children – not based on their appeal, but on those that can be deemed most hazardous in the clumsy hands of small children… Among them is a pencil catapult and a doll.

Organizers have been putting together the list for more than 40 years. This year’s "10 Worst Toys" list has been compiled with the holiday season in mind to raise awareness for parents.

“It's not so much about the specific toys. It's about the hazards,” James Swartz, the group's director, said at a news conference at the Franciscan Hospital for Children.

WATCH says many toys still have small, detachable parts that infants can choke on or strings that can strangle as well as misleading or confusing warning labels and instructions.

“We shouldn't be finding these things for manufacturers. They should be designing them appropriately in the first place,” Swartz said.

This year’s list opens with The Air Storm Firetek Bow, because it allegedly poses the potential for eye injuries

“WATCH OUT! This “light-up power” bow and arrow set is sold with three “screaming whistle” arrows which are marketed as being able to fly “up to 145 ft!”” the description states.

It is followed by the Radio Flyer Ziggle (a child’s vehicle) which could cause forehead injuries – among others.

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“Its low profile makes the toy potentially hazardous for outdoor use. Furthermore, despite a warning to “always wear” a helmet and other safety gear, the young rider pictured on the box is wearing no protection.”

The “Catapencil” – a pencil catapult – also should not fall in children’s hands.

“Sharpened pencils should not be marketed as playthings, much less a miniature slingshot-style launcher,” WATCH said.

An alphabet zoo pull toy has also drawn heavy criticism and has been listed the fourth out of 10 worst toys because small kids could strangle themselves.

“Despite the industry’s standard requiring strings on playpen and crib toys to be less than 12 inches in length, manufacturers are still permitted to market “pull toys” such as the “Alphabet Zoo Rock & Stack” with a cord measuring approximately 20 inches,” WATCH said.

“The manufacturer recognizes the potential for strangulation in a warning on the bottom of the package, but nowhere on the toy itself,” it said.

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Fifth is a SWAT electric machine gun.

“In today’s world, there is no excuse for outfitting children with realistic toy weapons… Detailed replicas have resulted in a number of deaths through the years,” WATCH said.

Small wooden instruments are also marketed at small children – something the list takes issue with.

“The manufacturer provides no warnings regarding the slender, rigid approximately 4½” long drumstick, which has the potential to be mouthed and occlude a child’s airway.”

Seventh is a “bottle rocket party” – a kit with which children can create rockets.

“8-year-old children, or 'rocketeers,' are advised by the manufacturer of this 'party kit' that 'shooting off bottle rockets is a major event,'” WATCH warns.

Dr. Penny Norman, who developed the kit defended it to AP, saying that they have been on the market since 2005 and how their usage is a “time-honored” event for children.

“But it isn't about children being set loose to play with them on their own. It's absolutely about adults running a bottle rocket party event safely,” she said.

A doll has also made the list on account of small detachable parts. “Many of these toys, however, are sold with a decorative bow made of ribbon which can detach from the head of the baby doll, posing the potential for choking if ingested,” WATCH said.

Ninth is an Orc battle hammer, which is criticized for a lack of adequate cautions. “3-year-old children are encouraged to play the part of a 'Savage Orc,'” WATCH said.

Last on the list is a colorful hedgehog with soft fur spines. “The toy has long, fiber-like hair that is not adequately rooted and is easily removable, presenting the potential for ingestion or aspiration injuries,” WATCH said.