A group dedicated to keeping dangerous toys out of the hands of our nation’s children recently released its annual “10 Worst Toys” list just in time for Christmas.
A noble quest indeed, to save our most innocent generation from the ravages of playtime. The World Against Toys Causing Harm – known by its comic-book-like acronym WATCH – spotlighted 10 toys it believes can choke, strangle or irretrievably harm those who are our future.
But hold on there a second.
Before blindly accepting the WATCH list as ultimate proof children are a threatened species, what if we apply some common sense, a commodity rapidly vanishing tweet by tweet?
Common sense has kept us from driving with the cardboard windshield screens in place (prior to printed warnings), or speeding through city streets at 80 mph without knowing it was a professional driver on a closed course and thus should not be attempted.
Here is a common-sense look at the 10 worst toys, with a rating on the “Really?” scale, from 1 (it’s OK to play) to 10 (if you let your child have this, someone needs to call protective services).
1. Itty bittys baby stacking toys by Hallmark.
The stackable fabric rings featuring Disney characters have already been recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, but WATCH claims you can still find them online.
What WATCH says: The rings come with no age recommendations or warnings, and include detachable fabric hats and bows. “Hazard: Potential for choking injuries.”
Really? 9. The fact it’s already been recalled is good enough for me.
2. Pull Along Pony by Tolo Toys
The brightly colored rolling pony comes with a 19-inch cord.
What WATCH says: It notes an industry standard limiting cords to 12 inches, though it doesn’t apply to pull toys. “Hazard: Potential for strangulation and entanglement injuries.”
Really? 7. Parents, keep your eyes on children around pull toys.
3. Wonder Woman Battle-Action Sword by Mattel
It’s a plastic sword, ostensibly a re-creation of one that would be wielded by Wonder Woman in battle.
What WATCH says: Children are encouraged to wield the rigid plastic sword as if it were a rigid plastic sword. “Hazard: Potential for blunt force injuries.
Really? 3. If you buy this for your child, you better expect some bonking.
4. Hand Fidgetz Spinners by Kipp Brothers.
Your basic fidget spinners.
What WATCH says: Small parts may come loose. “Hazard: Potential for choking injuries.”
Really? 3. Children old enough to manipulate fidget spinners probably won’t pop a small part into their mouth. They should be kept out of the hands of younger children, mostly because the world does not need more kids fidget-spinning.
5. Spider-Man Spider-Drone Official Movie Edition by Marvel and Skyrocket Toys.
Rapidly moving propellers provide lift to the drone.
What WATCH says: It notes that the toy is accompanied by several warnings, most related to how rotating blades may cause injury. “Hazard: Potential for eye and body impact injuries.”
Really? 5. Talk about a rock and a hard place. It seems WATCH wants warnings, but not too many. The toy is recommended for children 12 and older, which sounds reasonable. Watch those digits, kids.
6. Nerf Zombie Strike Dreadbolt Crossbow by Hasbro and Nerf.com.
The crossbow fires foam darts, and not just at zombies.
What WATCH says: Children as young as 8 are encouraged to use the toy crossbow as a toy crossbow. It believes 8-year-olds are not ready to be exposed to foam-dart violence. “Hazard: Potential for eye injuries.
Really? 3. The crossbow has one purpose. Parents can figure out whether their kids are ready. #CommonSense
7. Slackers Slackline Classic Kit by Brand 44.
String this tightrope (actually, a loose rope) between two trees and walk across it.
What WATCH says: Though packaging indicates the slackline is fine for ages 5 and older, the manufacturer also notes the potential for severe injury. “Hazard: Potential for strangulation and fall-related injuries.”
Really? 8. This hardly seems a toy, and there is no way I’d attempt something best left to the coordinated. Still, the manufacturer spells out the risks, as if they weren’t obvious.
8. The Oval Xylophone by Plan Toys Inc. and Plan Creations
The toy xylophone comes with a stick featuring a large, blunt tip.
What WATCH says: The 9 ½-inch stick is inappropriate for 12-month-olds (despite the manufacturer’s age recommendations) and does not come with any safety warnings. “Hazard: Potential for ingestion and choking injuries.”
Really? 6. Parents, watch your kids around long sticks.
9. Jetts Heel Wheels by Razor USA
Clip these to the back of a child’s shoes to turn them into roller skates (rear only) . The wheels also leave a trail of sparks.
What WATCH says: Those heel-generated sparks can be dangerous. “Hazard: Potential for blunt impact and fire-related burn injuries.”
Really? 2 (official rating). 10 (my rating). First, anyone on wheels may suffer “blunt impact” injuries. And unless you put your face in the center of that spark trail, potential for serious burns is low. As far as my rating, this reminds me of heelies, the shoe with a built-in wheel at the back. My son would weave through crowds, cutting people off and attaining annoyance on a professional level.
10. Brianna Babydoll by Melissa & Doug
The squeezable baby doll comes with clothes and ponytail holders that may be removed.
What WATCH says: The doll is marketed to kids as young as 18 months, who could put those removable items in their mouths. “Hazard: Potential for choking injuries.”
Really? 4. If parents remove the ponytail holders for their 18-month-olds, Brianna becomes an even far less dangerous doll than Chucky.