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Party of one It’s the most wonderful (and dangerous) time of the year

November 16, 2018

The holiday season is already here bringing with it more wonder, joy and deathtraps than you can shake a pointy stick at.

Salmonella from undercooked turkey. Third-degree burns from frying latkes. That concealed carrying cousin from your mom’s side who always wants to pre-game a family gathering with the rallying cry, “Let’s pound some Fireball!”

Let’s not forget those killer toys, which we won’t thanks to a group called World Against Toys Causing Harm Inc. that this week released its annual list of “10 Worst Toys.” While “worst” to most parents implies toys that within minutes will either bore kids or be broken, this watchdog group instead selects items kids can use to, within minutes, either bore holes into themselves or break others.

Some of these choices are no-brainers, as in “you have no brains if you think this is a good purchase for child who can barely control his or her bodily functions.” These include:

Marvel Black Panther Slash Claw: Put this hard-plastic “paw” over a hand and release the hard-plastic knife-like “claws” for hours of fun cutting up the neighbors and/or sofa! Made for ages 5 and up, so kindergarten show-and-tell will never be bloodier.

Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel Superstar Blade: It’s not just a plastic sword — it’s a SPRING-LOADED plastic sword! If you are cool with giving this to a 4-year-old (that’s the minimum age recommendation), I suggest you save yourself the $30 and give your child the aforementioned pointy stick. Your grandpa played with a pointy stick and he lived until a ripe ol’ 56, pretty good for the era of a pack of Camels and two trans-fat filled Twinkies a day.

Magnetic cutting fruit: It’s a thick plastic knife your budding Gordon Ramsay can use to “slice” a pre-halved magnetic apple, pear and orange. Frankly, I’m less concerned with the injuries from the fake knife than with the brain-wiring of an adult willing to shell out $40 on this toy’s concept. Dude, you could have bought four Black Panther Slash Claws with that cash!

This list, as it does every year, contains a few items that fire projectiles. This year’s bad seeds are the Nerf Vortex VTX Praxis Blaster, a plastic assault rifle that shoots little plastic discs, and the Stomp Rocket Ultra Rocket, a foam-tipped missile that can shoot up to 200 feet in air when someone jumps on the inflatable launcher. While using these to take down the brat-next-door’s drone that has been buzzing your yard since August sounds intriguing, most parents know in their hearts that no good can come from these toys. Not because of injuries, but because it won’t be long after the unwrapping that the projectiles will be fired onto a roof, into a tree or down a toilet.

The remaining listed toys present the usual choking hazards from tiny parts or potential for strangulation from cords. One of these toys — the plush Nickelodeon Nella Princess Knight Pillow Pets Sleeptime Lites — has the added warning of “battery acid leakage.” Bonus!

The organization’s news release tries to drive in a final nail by citing some pretty scary statistics, such as an estimated 240,000 toy-related injuries in the United States in 2016 and a shocking 40-percent increase in toy-related injuries between 1990 and 2011. However, this reveals two positives: 1) With all the stress and craziness in the world, there’s still time to play and; 2) expect a major resurgence in the pointy stick industry.

Stamford native and resident Kevin McKeever, whose nationally award-winning column appears here every other Friday, is a freelance writer. Email him at kevin@writeonkevin.com.

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