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'10 Worst Toys' are unwrapped
Consumer group WATCH raises red flag for Supremo Slingshots, Ribbets the Frog and rubber yo-yos.
November 25, 2003: 1:40 PM EST
By Parija Bhatnagar, CNN/Money Staff Writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - The Supremo Slingshot, the Nickelodeon Gooze Soda Fountain and Ribbets the Rhythm Frog made the annual "10 Worst Toys" list unveiled Tuesday by a Boston consumer safety group.

This is the 31st annual list compiled by Ed Swartz, a product liability lawyer for plaintiffs and founder of the nonprofit group WATCH, or World Against Toys Causing Harm. The list is intended to warn parents against toys that could be dangerous to children.

But the government's Consumer Product Safety Commission as well as the Toy Industry Association both took issue with the WATCH list, saying that their investigations usually do not find fault with the toys featured on the ist.

Pamela Johnston, a spokeswoman for TIA, said Swartz's annual list is an "unnecessary" alarm bell for parents.

"Based on long-term studies of hospital emergency room data, the CPSC has repeatedly concluded that toys are indeed the safest of 14 categories of common products found in the home. To suggest that a toy is 'potentially' dangerous when no real danger exists creates unnecessary alarm," Johnston said.

She said parents should carefully review instructions regarding proper usage, age appropriateness and safe-play practices.

There were an estimated 212,400 toy-related injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms and 13 toy-related deaths last year, according to the CPSC.

Separately, a retail industry group released its list of hot toys for the holiday season, led by old favorites such as Barbie, Care Bears, My Little Pony and Hot Wheels. (For more on that list, click here.)

In its list, WATCH said the Supremo Slingshot, made by Prime Time Toys Ltd., is capable of "forcefully firing the balls with which it is sold and has the potential to cause serious eye injuries."

"Some hazardous toys remain in toy boxes because purchasers have not received notice of a recall. Others remain available because they were never tagged for recall by the CPSC despite proven hazards," WATCH said in a press release.

The group also warned that the Yo yo Water Ball and Yo yo Squeeze Toy -- soft rubber balls hung from long, stretchy cords -- can wrap around a child's neck and restrict or even cut off circulation.

W.A.T.C.H listed Ja-Ru and Imperial Toy Corp. as two distributors of the Yo yo toys.

The CPSC in September did alert consumers that the Yo yo Waterball posed a "low but potential risk of strangulation" but did not name Imperial Toy Corp in that alert.

"While it is a risk, we determined that it didn't meet the legal threshold for regulatory action," said CPSC spokesman Ken Giles.

"We're very surprised that W.A.T.C.H mentioned Imperial Toy on the list. We're only one of 30 other companies that imports and distributes the Yo yos," said Peter Tiger, the company's executive vice president and chief financial officer.

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Added Tiger, "We take public safety very seriously and we're the only company that explicitly provides a warning and instructions for safe play on a bright orange tag. Moreover, Imperial Toy's product is age graded for children 8 years and older."

Also on the list is the Nickelodeon Gooze Super Scented Soda Fountain, sold in cherry cola, grape soda, mint chocolate chip and marshmallow flavors.

"The manufacturer warns of the potential for 'allergic reaction' and further warns: 'DO NOT EAT!' Toys, especially those that can be mouthed and swallowed, should not have the smell and look of real food," WATCH said. The soda fountain is manufactured by Flying Color Toys, a division of Jakks Pacific (JAKK: Research, Estimates).

Jakks Pacific spokeswoman Genna Goldberg said the company takes child-safety issues very seriously. "We are astonished that this organization would have included this product on this year's list. Our Gooze products are activity-toy compounds, not food products, and are clearly marked as such on the packaging."

WATCH also said to watch out for the Rhythm Frog, made by International Playthings and sold for 1-year-olds. "Sold with the toy, however, are jingle-bell bracelets, meant to be worn on the wrists or ankles of babies. The metal bells on these bracelets can detach, causing an ingestion hazard for small children," the group said.

Prime Time Toys could not be reached for comment.  Top of page

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