Turtles, Bart head yearly list of unsafe toys

Published Nov. 16, 1990|Updated Oct. 18, 2005

Beware of flying pizzas fired by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And yo, you Bart Simpson fans, don't get careless with a nylon replica of your television hero. So says a personal injury lawyer in his annual pre-Christmas list of dangerous toys.

The list, released Thursday by Edward Swartz, also includes a simulated crossbow and a Batmobile equipped with rocket launchers.

Swartz said the toys "have the potential to kill or injure," but officials at several toy companies disputed his allegations, saying their products meet safety standards and have adequate warnings.

The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission scheduled its own annual news conference on dangerous toys Monday in Washington.

Sometimes the danger is not in the toy, but in the way it is handled, said commission spokesman Jack Eden.

"If you buy a toy destined for a 7-year-old, it stands to reason it shouldn't be in the hands of a 14-month-old child," he said.

Swartz noted that manufacturers customarily put age warnings on toys, but said they often fail to give the reason for those warnings.

"The real key to toy safety is safer design, safer production, more safety-conscious labeling and market

ing practices by toy manufacturers, and an educated public," Swartz said in a statement.

The Teen-age Mutant Ninja Turtles pizza thrower, made by Playmates Toys Inc. of La Mirada, Calif., shoots small plastic discs resembling pizzas. It warns people not to look directly into the "pizza oven launcher" or to shoot the discs at animals or people.

Swartz said the flying plastic pizzas create a risk of eye injury.

A statement from Playmates said the company is "vitally concerned" with product safety and that it tested the toys according to federal guidelines. It said it "has not received a single consumer complaint or report of injury resulting from this product."

Another item cited by Swartz is a 13-inch nylon replica of TV cartoon character Bart Simpson. The doll comes in a box that Swartz said shows the toy dangling in several places, including the handlebars of a bicycle. He said the doll could get caught in a bicycle if used this way and cause an accident.

Ted Mayer, vice president of design for Spectra Star, the Pacoima, Calif., maker of Bart, said the toy is not intended to be hung on a bicycle. "It's harmless."

Swartz described a crossbow set that shoots plastic darts as a potentially hazardous toy. Grace Yu, office manager of Goffa Inc., the New York distributor of the toy, said she has never heard of the item causing injury.

Swartz also complained about figurines resembling people, made by Fisher Price. Although he did not include these toys on his list, Swartz said they have been responsible for several deaths from choking.

Fisher Price spokeswoman Carol Blackley said the company has warned parents to keep the toys away from young children who put objects in their mouths.

Swartz has presented his list of hazardous toys for nearly 20 years. Sometimes, critics argued Swartz was complaining about toys that were obscure or no longer being produced.

That apparently was the case with a toy Swartz cited Thursday, an "attack force weapon" set made by Esquire Novelty Inc. of Amsterdam, N.Y. Swartz said a cap gun in the set could cause hearing damage.

Company spokesman Al Brouilette said Esquire stopped making the set several years ago. The decision to discontinue the product was due to low sales, he said.