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Looks can be deceiving when it comes to toy safety.
For example, Hallmark’s Itty Bittys Disney-themed stacking rings toy is a plush product that might seem harmless. However, it just made the latest annual “worst toys” list from the nonprofit World Against Toys Causing Harm, or WATCH.
Hallmark recalled this toy in August, citing small hats and bows that could detach, although WATCH was able to buy it online after the recall.
WATCH has been issuing its “worst toys” list for more than 40 years to educate shoppers about the types of toy hazards found on the market.
This year’s list draws attention to hazardous toys found online as well as in stores. Shopping online can make it more difficult to discern safe toys from unsafe ones, according to the nonprofit:
“Shoppers may expect that there are checks and balances in place to prevent the online sale of recalled toys, toys already deemed to be unsafe, but unfortunately this is not always the case. Regulations and safety protocols for e-commerce transactions are often nonexistent or inadequate. Consumer-to-consumer ‘second-hand sales’ — which are inconsistently monitored, if monitored at all — provide new opportunities for recalled toys to surface.”
The 10 toys that made WATCH’s “worst toys” list this year are:
- Itty Bittys baby plush stacking toy (by Hallmark) — Considered hazardous by WATCH due to the potential for choking injuries
- Pull Along Pony (Tolo Toys) — Potential for strangulation and entanglement injuries
- Wonder Woman Battle-Action Sword (Mattel) — Potential for blunt force injuries
- Fidgetz Spinner (Kipp Brothers) — Potential for choking injuries
- Marvel Spider-Man Spider-Drone, official movie edition (Skyrocket Toys) — Potential for eye and body impact injuries
- Nerf Zombie Strike Deadbolt crossbow (Hasbro) — Potential for eye injuries
- Slackers Slackline Classic Series Kit (Brand 44) — Potential for strangulation and fall-related injuries
- PlanToys Oval Xylophone (Play Creation Co.) — Potential for ingestion and choking injuries
- Jetts Heel Wheels (Razor USA) — Potential for blunt impact and fire-related burn injuries
- Mine to Love Brianna baby doll (Melissa & Doug) — Potential for choking injuries
To see which toys made WATCH’s naughty list last year, check out “10 Most Dangerous Toys for This Year’s Gift-Giving Season.”
How to tell whether a toy makes a safe gift
So, how is a shopper to know whether a gift is safe for a child when even a plush toy can pose a hazard? You’ve got to do a little homework. WATCH advises:
“For starters, know what classic safety traps to look out for, inspect new and old toys for defects and poor design, learn to identify hidden hazards that re-appear year after year, and do not be lulled into a false sense of security that a toy is safe because of a familiar brand name on a package or due to its availability at a well-known retailer.”
Classic toy dangers that the nonprofit says resurface every year in new toys include:
- Small parts
- Toxic substances
- Rigid materials
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website is also a handy resource if you know which webpages to reference.
If nothing else, you can search the CPSC’s recall database to find out if a toy you’re planning to give as a gift has been recalled. Last year alone, 24 toys were recalled, including one that contained lead.
For toy shoppers, key pages of the CPSC’s website include the:
Note the CPSC also has a webpage devoted to fidget spinner safety.
What’s your take on this news? Would you give any advice to folks shopping for toys? Share it with us by commenting below or over on our Facebook page.