Holiday Central

Consumer watchdog's 10 'worst' toys for kids

Toy WATCH list


A trip to the emergency room could be avoided if certain toys stay out children's reach this holiday season. According to consumer watchdog World Against Toys Causing Harm (WATCH), 10 toys reveal the type of marketing, packaging and product design to watch out for before making a purchase.

This year's roundup features toys that are "designed and marketed for sales over safety," WATCH said. They may seem exciting to play with, but parents may not notice hidden hazards that could lead to potentially harmful consequences. There were about 265,000 toy-related injuries in 2012, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

When CNBC reached out to the companies of the 10 ranked toys for comment, Walmart, JC Toys and Norman & Globus responded, saying their toys passed safety regulations and tests and that the companies take product safety compliance very seriously. Other toy companies did not immediately respond to CNBC inquiries for comment.

The Toy Industry Association, which represents toy manufacturers, said in a statement that unlike WATCH, toy safety is a priority everyday of the year rather than just a ranking for one day a year. "Members of the toy industry are intent on assuring that the toys consumers bring into their homes are safe for their families" and the Association ensures that "U.S. toy safety standards remain the most protective in the world," the release said.

—By Hailey Lee, Special to CNBC

Posted 21 Nov. 2014

Zing: Air Storm Firetek Bow

"Air Storm Firetek Bow" by Zing
Zing | Facebook

The toy bow that includes light-up "screaming" arrows that fly up to 145 feet is designed for kids age 8 and up. It comes with a slew of warnings that caution not to "aim at eyes or face," not to shoot "people or animals," and not to use in darkness.

Radio Flyer: Radio Flyer Ziggle

Radio Flyer | Amazon

The four-wheel Ziggle allows kids to "swerve and spin" to move the cycle. But the product doesn't seem to be equipped with a brake, which could make it dangerous for use outdoors and especially near cars. Ironically, the product suggests wearing a helmet and safety gear, but the boys pictured on the packaging box are not wearing any.

Toysmith: Catapencil


The packaging of this pencil-slingshot suggests using it for "target practice," yet this pencil-slingshot does not come with any warnings nor age recommendations. A misfire of a dangerous object, shot in the wrong direction could very easily cause bodily harm to others.

Skip Hop: Alphabet Zoo Rock & Stack Pull Toy


This zoo animal pull toy might feature adorable animals, but the long string is a potential for entanglement or strangulation. Yet the packaging says it's suitable for babies "ages 18m+." Toy industry rules mandate that toys for the playpen or crib should not have any strings longer than 12 inches long—this pull toy string is approximately 20 inches.

Junxing: SWAT Electric Machine Gun


The toy manufacturer recommends this machine gun replica for kids age 5 and up. However, encouraging children to play with toy weapons may backfire, especially when used in public. The toy packaging warns, "This product may be mistaken for an actual firearm by law enforcement officers and others."

Wal-Mart: Wooden Instruments


Among the items included in this set of colorful wooden instruments is a long 4.5-inch stick. The manufacturer suggests giving the toy to babies 12 months or older, but there are no warnings that tell parents not to let babies play with this unsupervised.

Norman & Globus: Bottle Rocket Party


Marketed to kids ages 8 and up, this kit allows kids to create bottle rockets at parties—which may turn into a party of injuries if the rockets fire off in the wrong direction. The kit requires the use of "safety goggles," which are not included.

JC Toys: Lil' Cutesies - Best Friends


This doll, designed for toddlers ages 2 and up, according to the toy manufacturer, has a detachable bow on the head that's small enough to fit in a child's mouth and create choking risk. The toy is marketed as the "perfect friend for your little one."

Toys R US: True Legends Orcs Battle Hammer


Here's a "battle hammer" toy that comes with no warnings. There are no cautions not to hit other children, not to use on animals—or any other living creature for that matter.

Toys R US: Colored Hedgehog

Toys R Us

This stuffed hedgehog doll is touted for infants, age "0+". But the long hair on the toy is easily removable and could cause breathing or choking hazards for babies. There is no warning of this hazard on the product. The tag simply suggests to "remove all tags, twist-ties and plastic loops before giving toy to a child."