Killer toys on your Christmas list
Santa is making a list and he's checking twice, then he's going back over it a third time to see if any greedy little rug rats have asked for a toy that could poke out an eye or burst into flames.
Santa is tired of paying lawyers to defend him against class action lawsuits. He has enough problems with the elf union.
2012's 10 Worst Toys list is out and it's jam packed with dangerous hunks of brightly colored plastic assembled in far away lands by people who do not belong to unions, elf or otherwise.
As I explained in a column very similar to this one last year (it's called recycling, people, and it's good for the planet), World Against Toys Causing Harm (WATCH), a Massachusetts charitable nonprofit corporation founded by the late trial lawyer and child-safety advocate Edward M. Swartz (who, despite internet rumors, was not killed by a defective jack-in-the-box) issued its first hazardous toy list in 1973 and has since, according to a statement from the group, "fearlessly exposed potentially dangerous toys to the general public."
Here's a rundown of the first five killer toys on the 2012 list, to be followed next week by part 2, which will presumably feature the other five killer toys on the death-wish list or, considering past columns, maybe just a bunch of semi-coherent ramblings about monkeys. We shall see.
1. Magnetic Fishing Game. Sold by online retailers, the game includes a plastic fishing pole, twine, a magnet lure and plastic fish embedded with chunks of metal. In addition to being a choking hazard, the game mistakenly teaches young children that a magnet on a string is the best way to catch fish when in reality dynamite does a much better job.
2. Bongo Ball. This toy is a large, inflatable plastic ball that, according to the packaging, children as young as three can climb inside and "Bounce, Spin, Roll, Tumble!" or, according to WATCH, break, smash, crush, shatter.
To its credit, the manufacturer warns that Bongo Ball is "not a lifesaving device."
So, it is unlikely you will ever hear a doctor say, "Nurse, we're losing him. I need 25 cc of lidocaine and a Bongo Ball, stat!"
3. Dart Zone Quick Fire 12 Dart Gun. WATCH insists the gun "can shoot the supplied darts with enough force to potentially cause eye injuries" but the manufacturer includes this warning: "Caution: Do not shoot at people or animals. Do not modify this toy or any of the included components. Do not shoot at any one's eyes or face."
So, kids, even if you receive this gift and grandma's cat is wearing its new sweater with a target on the back, you must still heed the manufacturer's warning - at least until grandma isn't looking.
4. Spinner Shark 4-Wheel Kneeboard. It's kind of a scooter-skateboard hybrid with a low profile that WATCH says renders it "potentially hazardous for outdoor use, an issue purportedly addressed with a separate, detachable 'safety flag.'"
The manufacturer warns: "Kneeboards can and are intended to move, and it is therefore possible to get into dangerous situations and/or lose control and/or fall off. If such things occur, serious injury may result."
Plus, someone may be waiting just around the corner, ready to shoot you in the face with a modified Dart Zone Quick Fire 12 Dart Gun and/or whip you with a plastic pole from a Magnetic Fishing Game.
5. Explore & Learn Helicopter. WATCH is concerned about entanglement dangers associated with the toy's long cord. The manufacturer insists the plastic helicopter "encourages little ones to discover and learn with a cute puppy friend."
Apparently, an adorable puppy pilots the helicopter. According to classified documents I have uncovered, the U.S. military reportedly tried that in Afghanistan before determining that unmanned drones were more efficient.
Next week: Part two of killer toys or maybe semi-coherent ramblings about monkeys. Again, we shall see.
• Scott Hollifield is editor/GM of The McDowell News in Marion, NC and a humor columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.