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Toy Industry Criticizes List Of ’10 Worst Toys’

December 1, 1986

BOSTON (AP) _ A lawyer released his 15th annual list of ″10 Worst Toys″ Monday and called for greater toy safety, but industry spokesmen criticized the list as invalid and self-serving.

″I think it’s my professional responsibility to call attention to hazards,″ said Edward M. Swartz, who has written two books on toy safety and has prosecuted negligence lawsuits against manufacturers.

Among the items on Swartz’s list are a riding toy he says is too low to be seen by motorists, a powder dispenser he claims could lead to children inhaling the talc, and a plastic sword he says could injure children’s eyes.

″He’s been hardly an objective critic of the toy industry,″ said Fisher- Price spokeswoman Carol Blackley. ″He makes his living as a personal injury lawyer.″

″If these toys are really that dangerous, why does he only seek all this publicity at Christmastime?″ asked Jodi Levin, a spokeswoman for the Toy Manufacturers of America. ″The guy prosecutes product liability cases and I just think it’s an excellent way to get new clients.″

Swartz said he releases his list at a time when most toys are bought and the media are most interested in the issue.

He accused the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission of acting too slowly to recall or ban dangerous toys, of failing to act on similar toys made by different companies, and of not adequately publicizing toy recalls.

″That’s not a fair criticism,″ replied David Schmeltzer, director of compliance for the agency. ″We spend more than 20 percent of our budget on toy safety. We recalled 60 toy products last year.

″We think he really does a public service by bringing these matters to public attention,″ Schmeltzer said. ″We would appreciate it if he could bring it to our attention earlier rather than this late in the season.″

The CPSC said 123,000 children were treated last year for toy-related injuries, most of them minor but some fatal.

The commission and the industry group held a joint news conference last month to warn parents of possible dangers with toys without naming any.

The industry group said toymakers follow federal and voluntary industry safety standards and many accidents happen because children are not properly supervised.

The list:

-Puff the Magic Dragon by Avon Products, which Swartz said can be dangerous to children who inhale the powder that spews from the dragon’s nostril’s when squeezed. Avon spokeswoman Bernadette Mansur said the product has been phased out of production as part of annual product changes.

″The powder which is dispensed from Puff is a high-quality mixture of asbestos-free, cosmetic-quality talc and corn starch, and presents no health risks from incidental inhalation,″ she said.

-PlaySkool’s Tyke Bike, a low plastic scooter. Swartz said its height makes it hard for motorists to see it.

Emma Carrasco, a PlaySkool spokeswoman, said that in the 22 years the Tyke Bike has been made, ″we have never received one single consumer complaint about the safety or quality of the product.″ She said the bike was not intended to be used on streets or sidewalks.

-Dakin’s Circus Clowns Tie-Up, an infant toy that can be stretched across a crib. It carries a warning to remove the cord when the child is able to sit up, but parents don’t know when that will happen for the first time - and a child could strangle himself on the cord, Swartz said. A spokesman for the San Francisco-based company did not return a call seeking comment.

-Pieces of Body, soft rubber eyeballs, tongues and other body parts that Swartz claimed could be swallowed. A spokeswoman for Swartz said the toy package did not list a manufacturer.

-America Ninja Weapon Set by HG Industries, which includes a plastic sword that Swartz said could stab a child’s abdomen or eye. Manny Begleiter, an HG Toys vice president, said: ″We don’t feel that it’s an unsafe toy. ... We’ve had no complaints or suits.″

-Aladdin’s No. 300 Child Guidance System, plastic snap-together bricks. Swartz said the parts could be swallowed and choke a child. The package listed Sam-A Toys as the manufacturer but gave no address and the company could not be located.

-Upright Manufacturers’ America’s Newest Hero Bazooka, which fires a plastic rocket that Swartz said could cause eye injuries. Neither the toy nor its package listed a company address and the company could not be located.

-Fisher-Price’s Tag-Along Turtle and Pull-Along Plane, which have 36-inch long cords that Swartz said could strangle a child.

Ms. Blackley, the Fisher-Price spokeswoman, said Swartz seemed to be indicting all pull toys, since she said they need cords that long to make them work. She said the company has made pull toys for years and never received a report of an injury.

-G.M.G. Corp.’s Lovely Baby Doll, which Swartz said has a flammable dress and a small pacifier a child could swallow. No company address was on the doll’s label or packaging, Swartz’s spokeswoman said, and it could not be located.

-Edison Giocattoli’s Sharkmatic 13 Shot Cap Gun, which weighs nearly one pound and, Swartz said, could be mistaken for a real weapon. A person who answered the telephone at the the New York-based company said the only official able to comment was not available.

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