November 18, 2009 / 10:31 PM / 9 years ago

U.S. consumer group flags potential toy dangers

BOSTON (Reuters Life!) - A foam rocket launcher, children’s book and Batman and Wolverine action figures are among the most dangerous toys on store shelves, according to a consumer watchdog group.

World Against Toys Causing Harm, (W.A.T.C.H), unveiled its annual list of the ten worst children’s toys, just in time for the holiday shopping rush.

“A lot of the same hazards we see, year after year, are still appearing on the shelves,” said James Swartz, an attorney and director of group that has produced the list each year since 1972.

Among the items on the 2009 list were products that the group said could cause serious eye or head injuries, choking or strangulation.

The toys included a Disney-Pixar Wall-E foam rocket launcher, which is a tie-in to the popular 2008 animated movie, a Dark Knight Batman action figure from Mattel, and an X-Men Origins Slashin’ Action Wolverine action figure from Hasbro.

A pogo board, “Curious George” counting book, a doll with a mini nursery and toy musical instruments also made the list.

The group, which has been successful in getting a number of toys pulled from the shelves, found the toys at a range of leading retailers.

Several toys had thematic tie-ins to popular movies, television shows or books, arguably making them likely choices for shoppers looking for a familiar brand.

The group said the Wolverine has pointed plastic claws protruding some 1.5 inches from each fist. The right claw pops out and retracts upon impact, while the left stays rigid upon contact.

Gun-like toys frequently make the group’s list. This year’s contender was a Spy Gear Viper-Blaster with foam darts for ammunition.

“This is a toy that as sold, in our opinion, is a weapon,” said Swartz.

A Play School “Caterpillar” dump truck has a wheel that with a hard tug can be pulled off, potentially leaving a child as young as 18 months — the suggested age group for the toy — holding a 3-inch metal spike, according to the group.

Warnings on packaging for a pogo board said that an elastic cord, if pulled taut and then released, “could spring back and cause injury,” and that inexperienced users should wear safety gear.

“When you see all kinds of warnings about where to use the product, when to use the product, how to use the product — it’s best to stay away from the product,” said Swartz.

The Consumer Products Safety Commission reports that in 2008 at least 19 toy-related deaths occurred in the United States. There were also about 235,300 toy-related injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms.

For a full list of the group’s 2009 ten worst toys, see the following url: http//

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