This Is Cuddly Bear Penguin Is at Large and Dangerous…

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If you spot this plush toy, please do not try to apprehend yourself and especially don't try to unfasten "the green plastic button on the backpack, [which] is attached using only thread and could be ingested by oral-age children."

Instead, contact your nearest class-action lawyer, hysteria-mongering media outlet, and/or the folks at W.A.T.C.H. ("World Against Toys Causing Harm"), who have recently released their dreary annual list of the "10 Worst Toys" in time for the Christmas shopping season. Joining "Dress Me Paz" on the least-wanted list are the dreaded "Air Burst Rockets" and "Megabuster Battle Weapon," none of which rises to the level of meance of, say, of the old Saturday Night Live skit in which Dan Aykroyd pushed plastic bags as space helmets for kids.

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  1. “Pocket Rocket Miniature Motorcycle” toy

    Ha! That joke writes itself!

  2. Fie on those nanny no-good-niks what forced ‘Johnny Human Torch’ off the market. A bag of oily rags and the worlds biggest zippo! “Flame on”

    Hey Nick,
    How bout some active links in this post?

  3. They’re actually giving the public information to use, or not, as each one chooses, in determining how to spend their money.

    Damn commies.

  4. I strongly suggest clicking on the link to the WATCH site. It’s fucking hilarious!

    “This toy is marketed for children as young as 1 year old, yet is sold with four slender, rigid wooden dowels 1/2 inch in diameter, and ranging in length from approximately 3 inches to 5 ? inches. The dowels could be mouthed by oral-age children, potentially leading to a choking tragedy.”

    Since when is choking to death NOT a tragedy?

    And what is with all this bias against the “pocket rocket”? I loved playing with my pocket rocket when I was a lad.

  5. If Reason is not in favor of private organizations monitoring product safety, then who the hell does it propose do it? This is not a government agency issuing binding product safety pronouncements. It’s not even an industry organization coming up with voluntary industry standards. One would think that WATCH would be a model of the kind of org that libertarians would advocate taking the lead on consumer safety, allowing consumers to make their own decisions about what products to leave on the shelf.

  6. Joe

    It the “10 Worst Toys” list. The list itself is fact that the organization is discouraging the purchase of this product. Painting that as “public information” has as much merit as stating that you, Joe, do not “troll”.

  7. Why don’t those toy companies file suit against W.A.T.C.H?

  8. Pregnant women, the elderly and children under 10 should avoid prolonged exposure to Happy Fun Ball.

    Caution: Happy Fun Ball may suddenly accelerate to dangerous speeds.

    Happy Fun Ball Contains a liquid core, which, if exposed due to rupture, should not be touched, inhaled, or looked at.

    Do not use Happy Fun Ball on concrete.

    Discontinue use of Happy Fun Ball if any of the following occurs: Itching, Vertigo, Dizziness, Tingling in extremities, Loss of balance or coordination, Slurred speech,Temporary Blindness,
    Profuse sweating, Heart Palpitations.
    If Happy Fun Ball begins to smoke, get away immediately. Seek shelter and cover head.

    Happy Fun Ball may stick to certain types of skin.

    When not in use, Happy Fun Ball should be returned to its special container and kept under refrigeration… Failure to do so relieves the makers of Happy Fun Ball, Wacky Products Incorporated, and its parent company Global Chemical Unlimited, of any and all liability.

  9. Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball…

  10. “It the “10 Worst Toys” list. The list itself is fact that the organization is discouraging the purchase of this product.”

    But if it’s not a government organization, what, exactly, is the problem?

    And a “troll” isn’t just someone who you disagree with.

  11. Making fun of private idiots does not mean we libertarians want watchdog organizations banned. Well, okay, let’s ban Horowitz’ outfit, but other than that…..Well, okay, ashcan Nader’s too.

    I make fun of dorks all the time, matter of fact I practically invented the term ‘Drunks Against Madd Mothers’. But that doesn’t mean I’m in favor of drunk driving, serve my kids tequila shots, or that I hate mothers.

    It’s like Tim’s BBQ quote. Do we really think parents are that fricking stupid? That without WATCH we’d all buy our kids flame throwers and lawn darts for Christmas?

    Besides, like incest, everything is relative. I know an old guy who got a .410 shot gun for his fourth birthday. I would think that would be a bit more worrisome than a frikking sewed-on button that might come off if your kid chews on it long enough.

  12. Let me note–as I should have in the original post–that I have no problem with information being circulated about toys and their alleged safety (or lack thereof). However W.A.T.C.H. also foments hysteria and believes, as their main page puts it in all capital letters, “LEGISLATION IS NEEDED TO PREVENT DANGEROUS CHILDREN’S PRODUCTS FROM FLOODING THE MARKETPLACE.”

    So they’re not simply about providing information to consumers. Rather, they’re interested in restricting the choices we make.

  13. joe and c:

    C’mon, guys, did you actually look at the WATCH website?

    It was made by a trial lawyer who probably made a fortune out of chasing ambulances. These people are trying to do one of two things:

    1) the idealists want to impose their utopia where children don’t fall down and go boom. Pain and disappointment are SO BAD! Let’s totally shield our kids from it, keeping them in a perpetual womb. Let’s keep legislating (and, if that fails, go to the courts) until it all goes away.

    2) Trial lawyers using scare tactics to make themselves stinking rich.

    Take your pick.

  14. I reluctantly agree with joe here.

    I don’t like the “Ooh, that’s dangerous, don’t have any fun!” crowd. But as long as they are concentrating on information rather than calling for bans I’ll simply ignore them and play with my bag of crushed glass ;->

    Even if they are calling for bans, that doesn’t mean that the information campaign is bad. One should distinguish between a group’s good activities and a group’s bad activities (sort of like the way that many people on this forum praise the GOP for some of its actions while condemning other actions by the GOP).

  15. Ironchef, it ceases to be public information if it discourages purchase of a product?

    What the hell are you talking about?

  16. Oral Age Children?

    That sounds vaguely obscene………..

  17. Wow, I didn’t know there still *were* toy guns that actually looked vaguely like guns. Cool.

    WATCH’s complaint about the toy gun is really funny. They’re poster children for the humorless nanny state.

  18. I didn’t find any message (in all caps or otherwise) about legislation being needed when I looked at the WATCH site. Am I looking at the right place?

  19. The list itself is fact that the organization is discouraging the purchase of this product.

    Uhhhh – what’s wrong with that? Is it only OK to encourage the purchase of products, via commercials (which always tell the truth, of course). I know, I know… personal responsibility — I believe in it too! — but come on. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. If you are personally offended that this group takes it upon itself to inform you what it thinks might be dangerous to your child, well that’s fine, but try to imagine that you are a stressed-out parent of four kids who trusts that the toys sold by Parents Magazine (of all places) aren’t going to break apart and choke your child. I think lots and lots of parents would find this information useful.

  20. This parent heeds the WATCH list, and thanks its authors. Criticize the nanny state if you want, but there’s no point in mocking folks who offer useful information to parents who want to do their own nannying. The marketing of baby toys with little buttons is extremely annoying to parents of babies, and if you order on line or if it comes in a box you can’t inspect before purchase.

    Dead baby jokes can be funny, but dead babies really are best avoided.

  21. “One should distinguish between a group’s good activities and a group’s bad activities”

    True, and one should also be able to accept the valid existence of a group like WATCH, and even admire or appreciate the fact that they provide information and encourage media attention rather than demanding legal action (I couldn’t find the demand for legislation either), and still consider their positions stupid.
    This really doesn’t have to be a nanny _state_ issue at all – WATCH has the right to make and publicize their lists for whoever wants to use them, and others have the right to think they’re full of shit.

  22. TWC, funny that you should bring up lawn darts. Several hundred thousands units of lawn darts were sold before they were pulled from the shelves. Don’t you think those consumers – like, say, the ones who actually saw their daughter killed by a lawn dart – would have liked to have been better informed before making the purchase?

    MNG, are all lawsuits bad? Should people who have been harmed by other people’s negligence have no mechanism for recouping damages?

    Typical libertoid thinking. We should do away with regulation and let harmed parties go to the courts, right up to the point that harmed parties want to go through the courts.

    We should replace regulation with private-party communication about the harms done by products and practices, right up to the point that a private groups wants to talk about a company’s products and practices.

    Nick, if you wanted to plink WATCH for supporting regulations, you could have done that. Instead, you plinked them for providing a communication from a private party to a private party – you know, the ideal solution you call for in 90% of the columns you write. That’s a pretty big slip.

    “They promote hysteria…” Hysteria being defined, as usual, as “concern other people have about a problem I don’t have any reason to worry about.”

    If you have a 2 year old kid, it is not hysterical to make sure there are no small, chokable pieces that come with the toy.

  23. [JonLovitz voice]
    See the way it works is:[/jlv]
    WATCH is free to publish their fear-mongering hysteria…
    And we are free to have our fun at the expense of the paranoid nanny-statists.

  24. On the gun one it said “dangerous and unecessary thrills”

    hahahahaha

    How many pills would a boy need if he didn’t have dangerous and unecessary thrills?

    There are just not enough dangerous and necessary thrills to cut it.

  25. I wrote:

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with this.

    That said, the site IS hilarious. I especially like how in 1971 “Toys Don’t Care” but by 1986 “Toys Kill”! So the guy made himself stinking rich. I thought we like that sort of thing 😉

  26. “Instead, you plinked them for providing a communication from a private party to a private party”

    From my read (even without his clarification), one could just as easily interpret the initial post to mean he was plinking them not for “providing a communication…” per se, but for taking a position he considered overly nannyish (in a private sense…). Just another part of the ideal solution of private folks exchanging their views, and others can take ’em or leave ’em or insult ’em as they see fit.

  27. Warren, and we are free to point out how ignorant it is to describe as “nanny state hysteria” concern about chokable pieces on toys sold as safe for toddlers.

  28. joe,
    Have you lost your marbles or did your mommy take them away from you?

  29. Joe, I think the lawn darts were a bad example. I mean, they have a heavy fricking steel head with a (dull) point and are thrown over long distances. Consumers couldn’t see the dangers up front? The box even had a cut-out front, so it was pretty obvious what was in there.

    I received a set for my birthday (can’t remember which, but I think it was pre-teen), and wish I still had them…

  30. “Existing regulations addressing the hazards associated with such ?toys? are inadequate. Such detailed replicas should never be sold as toys, and have been a concern of public safety officials for many years.”

    From the toy uzi page of the 10 worst list.
    So, it appears that Nick was right. Did we ever have any doubt that this group wanted regulation? Don’t all similar groups?
    And some of us are sick of being hectored by fear-mongering ubernannies, and enjoy making fun of them.

    On lawn darts: The game involved throwing semi-sharp metal objects in the air and waiting for them to come down. How stupid does one have to be to not think that removing one’s self–or one’s children–from the impact area might be a good idea. I played the game as a kid, and enjoyed it. Of course, I also stayed out of the way.

    Finally-read that site. Can anyone honestly describe it as anything other than hysterical in tone?

  31. the above should have been “How stupid[…]might be a good idea?”

  32. Several hundred thousands units of lawn darts were sold before they were pulled from the shelves. Don’t you think those consumers – like, say, the ones who actually saw their daughter killed by a lawn dart – would have liked to have been better informed before making the purchase?

    Lawn darts were heavy and made mostly of metal. These two facts were immediately obvious. What, exactly, do people need to be “better informed” about with regard to heavy metallic objects? A label saying “Warning: do not throw heavy pointy metal things at children”?

  33. i agree with joe, except on the lawn dart thing. maybe i was too young and missed out on that, but it seems rather common-sensical. i wouldn’t stand in the way of a regular dart, so a lawn dart, being heavier, is a double no no.

    WATCH is hysterical, however.

  34. A friend of mine from France (of all places) once observed that instruction manuals in the US are much longer than in France. In the US they include things like “Don’t submerge this electric appliance in water”, “Don’t bite into the wires while it’s plugged in”, “Don’t stick a metal object inside this electrical appliance”, etc.

    In France they just assume that you know this already.

  35. In France they just assume that you know this already.

    I guess they have a shortage of lawyers… They can have some of ours.

  36. I’m surprised none of these toys made the list:

    – G.I. Joe Eye-Piercing Missile

    – Ken and Barbie’s Secret Cellar of Dark Pleasures

    – Little Yakuza ™ Finger Guillotine

    – Lucrezia Borgia Tea Set

  37. Have you ever read the instructions on a packet of toothpicks?

  38. “Have you ever read the instructions on a packet of toothpicks?”

    No, but I’ve seen a warning label on a hair dryer advising the consumer not to use it in the shower.

  39. That Penguin is called “Dress me Paz.” I was wondering what Vinny “the Pazmanian Devil” Pazienza was doing since he got out of the fight game.

  40. Well, I’m glad there is a private entity stepping in where the government would otherwise. However, parents who would give their kids life threatening toys undoubtedly have kids as dumb as themselves. Dumb kids grow up to be dumb adults. Do we really need more dumb adults around? Hell no, let the little morons choke.

  41. I’m shocked — shocked — that a product called “Dress Me [X],” and which includes in its product description, “Teach your child how to zip, snap, button and tie – with a fun, fuzzy friend,” might have buttons on it which could potentially come off. Attached with thread, no less! Don’t the makers know that buttons are only to be attached with staples or rivets?tag=reasonmagazinea-20

    I was actually kind of hoping that a “Dress Me Paz” was one of these.

  42. Pigwiggle,

    Which comes right back to my argument, that we are devolving.

    You artificially protect people from the consequences of their stupidity and more stupid people will be born.

    200,000 years from now, we’ll be back to the stone age unless we can produce self-replicating, self-programming and self-improving robots to take care of us.

    It’s our only hope.

  43. joe,

    Seriously, if libertarians only made fun of government entities, we wouldn’t be razzing you all the time… 😉

  44. That’s a bear? Looks like a penguin to me.

    Father McElroy,

    Better send in Senator Senatorum. 🙂

    Rhywun,

    One of the off-setting benefits of France’s obsession with certification is that it takes far more effort to become an attorney there than it does in the U.S. As I recall, tort awards equal 3% of U.S. GDP, whereas in Western Europe they equal less than 1% of GDP.

    Indeed, tort law in the U.S. is so skewed toward potential plaintiffs that when the Concorde crashed a few years ago, that attorneys for the German passengers who were killed in France tried to have their cases heard in the U.S. (based on some of the plane’s parts being made in the U.S. as I recall); they knew that they had a higher chance of winning in the U.S. and of getting a far more sizeable award here.

  45. “MNG, are all lawsuits bad? Should people who have been harmed by other people’s negligence have no mechanism for recouping damages?”

    Certainly not, but I strongly believe in just compensation for very real harm for the VICTIM, not some Jackie Chiles slimebag. The huge problem, as JB sagely explains above, is that lawyers in this country have an overwhelming economic interest to go after payments far exceeding reason.

    Very talented litigators manipulate our system so that juries are stacked with morons who will agree with anything (some idiots even go beyond). The litigator gets a huge chunk of the award (can someone give specifics?), leaving the victim with far less then perceived.

    And trial lawyers pump a huge amount of money into the political system (primarily the Democrats), so tort reform is just a pipe dream. And you know the punch line? We (you and me) pay for it. I thought modern liberals were about spreading the wealth, not the enrichment of an elite few.

  46. Oral Age Children? I agree – poor choice of words.

    This phrase was mentioned twice on the site – along with the fear that such children would “mouth” the long cylindrical toys…

  47. Joe, you obviously didn’t read my comment. It was the sentence where I specifically said that I’m not against consumer watchdog organizations. If you had actually read it you wouldn’t have asked me if I thought some consumers might have been better informed–like the lawn dart people.

    You also missed the part where I used the term buying “lawn darts” in the same sentence with buying your kid a “flame thrower” which for most of us would lead to the obvious conclusion that I thought it was a bad idea to buy your kids flame throwers or lawn darts. Duh.

    Of course if Ralph Nader didn’t bring you up to speed and you’re idiotic enough to play lawn darts without realizing the inherent danger, ie it can fucking kill someone, than maybe the Darwin Award is just the ticket you need punched.

  48. Phil:

    Me Too–but wishing won’t make it so….

  49. So everyone who figured it was safe to let kids play lawn darts, or to play lawn darts when there were kids anywhere in the yard, just wasn’t as smart as the regulars on this board. Although the figure runs into the millions, they’re all just stupid.

    That’s not self serving or arrogant at all. And certainly not an after-the-fact rationalization – all you geniuses were fully aware of the problem waaaayyyyy before the 60 Minutes special, and the deaths and injuries it reported.

    Uh huh. How did I ever become so lucky as to stumble into this realm of ubermen?

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