Toys and Online Retailers on the Naughty List
December 14, 2022
A recall round-up for the holiday season and tips for making sure you’re giving safe toys
By Aitken * Aitken * Cohn
Tis’ the season of giving- children are making lists, hinting and begging, and writing to Santa. Parents and grandparents are shopping.
There’s nothing like the anticipation of new toys!
While it’s no fun to think about illness and injury during the holidays, parents must be aware of some sobering statistics.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in 2020 (most recent data), U.S. emergency rooms responded to approximately 198,000 toy-related injuries. Of these, 75 percent were sustained by children 14 years of age or younger; 73 percent were sustained by children 12 years of age or younger; 40 percent were sustained by children four years of age or younger. There were also nine reported toy-related deaths in children under 14.
But that’s not all. There’s troubling news for the 2022 holiday gift-buying season.
Last month, PIRG, the Denver-based U.S. Public Interest Research Group, released its 37th annual “Trouble in Toyland” toy safety report, warning parents of a specific danger: recalled and counterfeit toys are sold illegally online. In October, PIRG researchers were able to purchase more than 30 recalled toys, of almost a dozen different types, from various online sellers in the United States.
From action figures and stuffed animals to musical, bath, and riding toys to activity balls for infants, the recalled toys posed a wide range of safety issues, including choking and fall hazards, flammability, risk of laceration, potential poisoning from unsafe toxin levels, and even children’s privacy violations. The report noted that counterfeit toys may not meet mandatory U.S. safety standards besides officially recalled toys, as some imported toys “slip under the radar.”
Yet these dangerous playthings were available for purchase from some online retailers and Internet marketplaces like Facebook and eBay. And they’re being sold in apparently original packaging, or new, with tags on. According to PIRG, just one seller on eBay sent an email noting a recall—and it was after the PIRG buyer had already received the toy. “None of the other sellers flagged, stopped, or sent a warning about any of our other purchases of recalled toys.”
PIRG also notes that hospital records on which annual statistics are based don’t necessarily reflect the actual number of toy-related injuries—many likely go unreported because parents don’t always seek medical treatment for a child’s minor wounds.
Here’s just a sampling of the risky toys that the PIRG team was able to buy:
- Army Action Figure Playsets by Blue Panda. About 4,500 were recalled due to excessive levels of toxic phthalates and lead.
- Early Learning Centre Little Senses Lights & Sounds Shape Sorter Toys by Addo Play. More than 9000 were recalled due to a piece that can come apart and release a small ball that presents a choking hazard.
- Kidoozie Play Tents and Playhouses by Epoch Everlasting Play. Over 250,000 were recalled in July because the fabric did not meet industry flammability standards.
- Blue’s Clues Foot to Floor Ride-on Toys by Huffy Corp. Approximately 28,550 were recalled in August due to tipping hazard/fall risk.
- DigitDots 3mm and 5mm Magnetic Balls by HD Premier. 119,620 recalled in March 2022 because if multiple magnets are swallowed, they can connect internally and injure the digestive system.
- Disney Baby Winnie the Pooh Rattle Sets from Walgreens were recalled because the feet on the Winnie the Pooh rattle can detach, posing a choking hazard to young children.
Nothing spoils the holiday spirit like a scary trip to the ER. So how can a parent be sure their child isn’t playing with dangerous toys off the naughty list?
- Before you buy a toy, check if it’s been recalled at CPSC.gov/Recalls.
- PIRG urges parents to “be diligent about testing and verifying the origin of the toys.”
- Buy from trusted retailers – if you can only buy a toy from an online source that looks iffy, there’s probably a good reason.
- Inspect every toy thoroughly (Are there pieces that could break off—becoming sharp or a choking hazard? Does the battery compartment close securely? Etc.)
- Read warning labels and follow age-appropriate advice
- Look for non-toxic labeling
If you or someone you love has suffered a toy-related injury or illness, speak to one of the compassionate and experienced product liability lawyers at Aitken*Aitken*Cohn.
We wish you and yours a happy holiday season!