Nov. 21, 2012 -- A too-loud Dora guitar and a lead-filled robot top the annual list of unsafe toys from the Public Interest Research Group, a nonprofit consumer watchdog.
This year's PIRG "Trouble in Toyland" report focuses on the specific dangers: Noisy toys that damage hearing; toys' small parts that can choke; toys filled with toxic chemicals; and toys with powerful magnets that can kill a child who swallows them.
PIRG calls for more action from the government agency responsible for toy safety, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. In at least one case, CPSC is trying to get powerful magnets off the market, but so far has been stymied by manufacturer lawsuits.
The Toy Industry Association, the trade group that represents toy makers, says PIRG had to look awfully hard to find just a few unsafe toys.
"PIRG has issued another one of its needlessly frightening reports," Joan Lawrence, TIA's vice president for safety standards, said in a statement. "Most of the products on their list actually comply with the strict safety standards that are already in place in the U.S. After searching high and low they found what we already knew -- toys are safe."
The PIRG list does not include every possibly dangerous toy on the market. The list, PIRG says, only gives examples of possibly dangerous toys PIRG researchers found in U.S. stores.
Dangerously Noisy Toys
- Dora Guitar manufactured by Fisher-Price and sold at Target for $22.39. PIRG tests found the toy puts out more than 85 decibels (dB); noise over 80 dB may damage children's hearing.
- CAT Car Wheel/Horn, manufactured by Toy State, sold at Toys-"R"-Us for $18.49. PIRG tests found the toy put out more than 85 dB.
- FunKeys Car Keys, manufactured by Maison Joseph Battat Ltd. and sold at Target for $9.99. PIRG tested the toy at more than 80 dB. As the toy can be held close to the ear, PIRG says such toys can damage hearing at more than 65 dB.
Toys That Can Choke a Child
- Dragster Cars, manufactured by Z-Windups and sold at Toys-"R"-Us for $4.99. PIRG says the toy's small parts can choke a child.
- Bowling Game, manufactured by Cool Novelty Products and sold at Dollar Plus for $1.00. PIRG says the small parts can choke a child.
- Ball on a stick launcher, manufactured by R T Toy Factory and sold at Dollar Store for $1.00. PIRG says the small parts can choke a child.
- Play Food, manufactured by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and sold at Wal-Mart for $8.00. PIRG says play food looks like it should be eaten, and that the small hot dogs are a choking hazard.
- Super Play Food Set, manufactured by Geoffrey LLC, a subsidiary of Toys-"R"-Us, which sells the toy for $19.99.
- Baby's 1st Birthday Balloons and Baby's 2nd Birthday Balloons, manufactured by Unique Industries Inc. and sold at Dollar Plus for $1.00. PIRG warns against any kind of balloon for small children.
- Golfing Game, manufactured by Aoxing Toys Factory and sold at Dollar Store for $3.20.
- Dora backpack, manufactured by Global Design Concepts Inc. and sold at Target. PIRG says the toy contains dangerous chemicals called phthalates. While the toy does not violate national standard, it does requires disclosure under Washington State and California laws. PIRG says the U.S. should adopt this standard nationwide.
- Morphobot, manufactured by GreenBrier International Inc. and sold at Dollar Tree for $6.00. PIRG says the toy's 180 parts per million (ppm) of lead violates the current 100 ppm standard.
Potential Magnet Hazards
- Snake Eggs, manufactured by GreenBrier International Inc. and sold at Dollar Tree for $1.00. PIRG notes that if the toy were "just a little smaller" it would be banned for kids under age 14 -- its marketed for kids age 4+.