Pretend weapons top danger on toys list

By James Ihaka james ihaka@nzherald co nz

Max Steel with Turbo Sword.
Max Steel with Turbo Sword.

A plastic sword with steel attachments, a jolting Nerf gun and a Disney princess backpack fishing kit are among this year's most dangerous items on toy store shelves, a consumer watchdog group says.

World Against Toys Causing Harm (Watch) recently released its annual list of the 10 worst children's toys.

Watch director James Swartz said the focus of this year's list was toy weapons including guns, slingshots, boomerangs and projectiles that he said could seriously harm children but continue to be found in toy stores.

"In today's world, there is no excuse for outfitting children with realistic toy 'weapons' designed to produce dangerous and unnecessary thrills," he said.

The list includes a number of toys that can be bought in New Zealand including the Max Steel Interactive Steel with Turbo Sword, the Disney Princess Backpack Fishing Kit and the Black Widow Folding Slingshot.

Also on the list and available locally are the Disney Baby Snow White, which has parts that can cause choking, the N-Strike Jolt Blaster and the Spooner Freestyle Board, a polythene board resembling a skateboard without wheels.

Mr Swartz said parents needed to be aware of classic toy dangers that reappear annually such as small parts, strings, projectiles, toxic substances, rigid materials, and inaccurate warnings and labels that can still be found in newly designed toys.

Anthony Keeling, director of tubby.co.nz which distributed the Max Steel Interactive Steel with Turbo Sword, said the company had not sold any of the swords and had now removed them from its listings.

Dean Underwood, managing director of Roundabout Distributors, which distributes The Little Drummer drum kit featured on the list, said the toy complied with international safety standards. "I'm not sure what more one can do than have it comply to international standards and use commonsense," he said.

The Warehouse spokeswoman Joanne Fulham said it complied with toy safety laws. "We work closely with all of our suppliers to ensure that their products meet strict product safety laws and regulations."

Safekids director Ann Weaver said some parents lacked the ability to understand whether the toys they were buying for their children were age-appropriate. She said others weren't properly keeping an eye on their children with their new toys.

"Lots of kids get bikes, often their parents don't think to get them helmets.

"They have to learn to become co-ordinated to ride these things [and] if they haven't got their helmets on it can lead to serious injury."

Clinical director at Starship children's hospital Dr Mike Shepherd said fall-related injuries and wheeled-toy accidents were the most common injuries for children at this time of year.

Dr Shepherd said parents needed to consider the safety element of toys and play equipment they were buying for children.

"For example, when scooters came on the market people didn't realise children needed to wear helmets, or when people get cheaper trampolines [they often come] without the safety nets," he said.

Accident Compensation Corporation spokeswoman Stephanie Melville said balls, trampolines, scooters, swings and skateboards were the toys or play equipment most often recorded in accident descriptions for children.

ACC figures show there were more than 29,000 soft-tissue injuries this year and more than 8000 fractures and dislocations that children suffered while playing.

- NZ Herald

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