MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

The Dangerous Toys of Christmas: Debunked!

’Tis the season for pointless panic!

Are you sick of being warned about anything and everything when it comes to the holiday season?

Me too. That's why I'm ready to throw an icicle at a group called World Against Toys Causing Harm (WATCH). Every year since 1973, they've published a paranoid list of the "10 Worst Toys" at Christmastime.

These warnings may have been necessary back in 1973 when companies were still selling toy ovens that could smelt ore and chemistry sets that could actually blow things up.

In fact, the toy world was littered with bad ideas—from the Cabbage Patch Kid dolls with mechanical jaws that chewed everything—including chunks of hair from kids' heads—to lawn darts—sharp metal things you'd toss at your friends' toes that caused over six thousand injuries.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission eventually banned those items—and it's hard to disagree with them—but today's toys are so risk averse, so super safe, that there's almost nothing left to warn about. But still the warnings fall like cookie crumbs onto Santa's beard.

It is this zero tolerance for "risk" that WATCH and other consumer groups exploit every Christmas. Among its top 10 dangers this year are the popular fidget spinners.

Also on this year's list is the Wonder Woman Battle Action Sword, which, the WATCH team says, encourages young children "to bear arms"—as if you get a Wonder Woman toy and immediately deploy to Yemen. They also say that the "rigid plastic sword blade has the potential to cause facial or other impact injuries." Yeah...and so does a fork. In fact, so does a candy cane, if you suck it to a sharp point.

Even an innocent looking Disney-themed plush toy did not escape WATCH's nannying notice. The group warns that the toy could be dangerous due to "fabric hats and bows that can detach, posing a choking hazard."

That's a lot of coulds, especially considering the Consumer Product Safety Commission notes on its website that it has had ZERO reports of injuries.

The Toy Association, which is an industry trade group, says WATCH's dangerous toys list is "full of false claims that needlessly frighten parents and caregivers."

It's obvious that toys that explode and toys that are just plain dumb—a boomerang made out of razor blades—are bad. But if they only worked a little harder, I'll bet WATCH could stop kids from playing with toys. Any toys. Ever.

You want a really great gift for the kids? How about they wake up Christmas morning, unwrap the giant package under the tree to find their very own product liability lawyer? Wind him up and watch him sue all the other toys. Hours of fun!

And when the kids get bored, they lock him in the toy chest, and go play with a great toy. A stick.

Written by Lenore Skenazy. Produced by Alexis Garcia and Paul Detrick. Camera by Jim Epstein, Alex Manning, and Paul Detrick.

All Aboard by Silent Partner is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) Source: https://www.youtube.com/audiolibrary/music Artist: https://www.youtube.com/audiolibrary/music

Black and White by Max Surla / Media Right Productions is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) Source: https://www.youtube.com/audiolibrary/music Artist: https://www.youtube.com/audiolibrary/music

Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy by Tchaikovsky is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) Source: https://www.youtube.com/audiolibrary/music Artist: https://www.youtube.com/audiolibrary/music

Horror Music by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) Source: https://www.youtube.com/audiolibrary/music Artist: https://www.youtube.com/audiolibrary/music

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Hank Stamper||

    Bring back Bag o' Glass, kids love of it.

  • DatCrazyMongoose||

    It teaches them about light refraction and prisms!

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    And they're super crunchy too!

  • CE||

    And Johnny Human Torch, and the Kid Astronaut plastic bag to put over your head.... and the Bass-o-Matic.

  • Hank Phillips||

    You forgot the Invisible Pedestrian black plastic garbage bags with leg holes...

  • Robespierre Josef Stalin Pot||

    Fuck you? Cut spending?

  • Jay Dubya||

    Umm what?

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    They also say that the "rigid plastic sword blade has the potential to cause facial or other impact injuries." Yeah...and so does a fork. In fact, so does a candy cane, if you suck it to a sharp point.

    A little knowledge that Lenore picked up in the joint.

  • CE||

    Loved lawn darts when I was a kid. It's a pointed weapon, don't throw it at people, duh.

    Said the guy who shot arrows straight up into the air and then ran like hell.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Taught you how to run.

  • TimK||

    I saw the WATCH review, what a useless organization that provides no benefit to consumers! You have to wonder why people even volunteer or work for it at all. They are literally just making stuff up, like the plastic sword that will "make kids want to bear arms" or "cause facial injuries" -- the plastic sword is less dangerous than a kid's fist! So their list every year is just a random hit list that makes absurd arguments regarding some imagined possible danger that likely does not even occur in this universe.

  • Jay Dubya||

    "have to wonder why people even volunteer or work for it at all. "

    To save the children

  • Colossal Douchebag||

    To petition for government funding?

  • Hank Phillips||

    That sword, Comrades, is proof of Zionist misandry, anarchist hatred of the Rule of Sharia Law and graven image worship of the Second Amendment with its subliminal incitement to use deadly force in misguided retaliation for the deadly force initiated by sensitive, concerned, altruistic and aware tax collectors and toy regulators!

  • Steven L||

    But sticks are too dangerous. How about a nice pool noodle?

  • Jay Dubya||

    It's been a while but I vaguely remember drunken brawls w pool noodles that did some real damage. U get them wet then whip someone on the back or face w it. That shit hurt!

  • Ingimar||

    You'll shoot your eye out kid. Ho Ho Ho.

  • Braunasaurus||

    encourages young children "to bear arms" last thing I want is my daughter's thinking they can be more bad ass than the boys

  • LarryA||

    Bearing arms? I'd bypass Wonder Woman and her plastic sword, and go straight to a Crickett.
    http://www.keystonesportingarmsllc.com/

    Let WATCH scream about that.

  • I'm Not Sure||

    "The Consumer Product Safety Commission eventually banned those items—and it's hard to disagree with them—but today's toys are so risk averse, so super safe, that there's almost nothing left to warn about. But still the warnings fall like cookie crumbs onto Santa's beard."

    A bureaucracy is created whose mission is to find dangerous toys, and you're surprised that's what they do? What did you think? Once they identified all the "toys that explode and are just plain dumb—a boomerang made out of razor blades"- that they'd disband and go home?

  • singlestack||

    "...eventually banned those items—and it's hard to disagree with them—but..."

    NO IT'S NOT

  • Eidde||

    Lenore sold out...soon she'll support a ban on the Junior Scientist Fission Kit.

  • Mark22||

    That ban already exists, since there is no such thing on the market

    Because we all know that the only reason things don't exist is because governments ban them!

  • Mark22||

    Not to a goober.

    Better a goober than a fascist, like you.

  • Myshkin78||

    Fake news! It clearly states on the package that razor blade boomerangs are only to be used with chainmail gloves (sold separately).

  • CLM1227||

    So the bow and arrows, playground equipment, and bicycle I got for my kids are perfectly safe. Good to know!

  • NoVaNick||

    Not to mention the baseball and bat I got my kid.

  • Sevo is my bitch||

    It is this zero tolerance for "risk" that WATCH and other consumer groups exploit every Christmas
    Goes well with our immigration bans

  • Eidde||

    You know, ICE might want to take a look at Santa's sack...it seems to have a lot of space inside...is it dimensionally transcendental like the TARDIS? We know that Dr. Who smuggled aliens (like himself) in the TARDIS, who knows, maybe Santa is doing the same.

  • JWatts||

    "to lawn darts—sharp metal things you'd toss at your friends' toes that caused over six thousand injuries."

    They were Lawn Jarts, and they were the most awesome toy ever.

  • Mark22||

    So it was the parents who were so fucking stupid?

    Dad: "There's some unopened toy boxes in the garage that I picked up at a sale a few years ago. I don't know what they are. Go open them and play with them, kids!"

    Yes, it was the parents who were so fucking stupid. As a parent, you need to supervise your kids, know what toys they are using, and teach your kids not to put themselves or others in danger. Any kid old enough to throw an object over a fence needs to know that doing so is dangerous and exercise sufficient caution. And pretending that you can deal with these kinds of risks by banning toys is naive and dangerous, not just to yourself but to others.

    Whether you agree with the regulations or not, it is crystal clear that the regulations exist to protect kids from stupid parents and bad parenting.

  • Azathoth!!||

    The thing is, the new jarts are simply non pointed versions of the old jarts--now, you won't stab through your friends, you'll shatter their bones!

  • Sheryl01||

    Good job

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online