A toddler spent a night writhing in agony after playing with a toy containing toxic levels of lead at a Christmas party.

Auckland mother Jacqui Ritchie said a family friend gave her two-year-old son William an 'Action Team Assault Rifle' on November 27.

The toy gun was one of six products found to contain toxic lead levels in recent Commerce Commission checks.

It registered 15,190mg/kg of lead - 169 times more than the 90mg/kg limit imposed under New Zealand regulations.

Within hours of playing with it, William began breaking out with spots over his face, Mrs Ritchie said.

That worsened to severe stomach pain, facial swelling that made it impossible for him to see out of his eye, muscle pain and diarrhoea, she said.

"He was just screaming and screaming.

"Then he was whimpering in his sleep. Pulling his knees up really quickly because of sharp pains in his stomach."

The family initially thought the illness was an allergic reaction.

But they became suspicious when William's eyes swelled shut after playing with the gun again, said Mrs Ritchie.

Health Ministry information says high levels of lead can cause vomiting, stomach pains, difficulty sleeping, constipation and loss of appetite in young children.

If untreated, very high blood lead levels can result in more serious problems and lead to brain damage or death.

Mrs Ritchie said William had still not recovered from his ordeal.

He remained lethargic and his appetite had not returned, she said.

She said she was "livid" a toy with high lead levels could be on shelves around New Zealand.

"My biggest thing is anger.

"You buy toys in good faith. It's not something that would enter my mind - that you could be giving your kid lead poisoning.

"What about those families where these kinds of toys are the only thing they can afford to give to their kids? How do you know what's safe and what's not? It's so scary to think you could be poisoning your kids."

Blood tests conducted four weeks after the ordeal confirmed William had lead in his blood, but did not show ongoing lead poisoning.

He is set to have a test on the lead levels in his hair next week, Mrs Ritchie said.

Commerce Commission investigation

The Commerce Commission began an investigation with "extreme urgency" after routine checks found six bargain toys with up to 314 times the allowable lead limit in early December.

It has contacted 15 suppliers, but is yet to find who delivered the toxic toys to stores, a spokeswoman said.

Many of the toys are counterfeit, making it difficult to find a supplier or importer who could voluntarily recall them, she said.

Only Minister of Consumer Affairs John Boscawen can order a compulsory product recall.

A spokesman for Mr Boscawen said he would not be ordering recall and would leave the Commerce Commission to handle the response.

Commerce Commission Enforcement Manager Greg Allan said the toys posed a serious risk to children's health.

Toys containing more than 90 mg are banned under an Unsafe Goods Notice, which is enforced by the commission under the Fair Trading Act, he said.

One of the toys tested registered a migrateable lead level of 28,280 mg/kg.

"These products, while not targeted specifically at small children, would pose a significant health risk to a small child if they were to chew or suck on the toys.

"The migratable lead in some of the products is at alarmingly high levels. Parents and caregivers need to immediately remove these toys from the household.

"Where child health is concerned we cannot afford to be complacent. No child should play with the toys that have been identified," Mr Allan said.

The Commerce Commission is advising any retailers who find they have the affected toys in stock to remove them.

Anyone whose child has played with one of the affected toys and has received a positive result for lead poisoning can contact the commission.

The products shown to contain high levels of lead are:

* Kinder-Gartengerate-set (with 1,582 mg/kg lead in red paint), purchased from Dollar City in Waiuku

* Combat Mission Gun (with 28,280 mg/kg of lead in yellow paint), purchased from Coin Save in Waiuku

* Bakugan Battle Brawlers (with 735 mg/kg of lead in black and yellow paint), purchased from Coin Save in Waiuku NB: The commission believes this product is an imitation. It has no concerns about the genuine article.

* Team Quick Stunt Moto 3 bike set (with 105 mg/kg of lead in yellow paint), purchased from Fashion Leader in Papakura

* Action Team Assault Rifle (with 15,190 mg/kg of lead in green paint), purchased from Golden House in Papakura

* Super Motivity Truck (with 26,550 mg/kg of lead in yellow paint), purchased from Bargain City in Botany Downs