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Maker of Magnetic Toys Sued

Action prompted by continuing harm to children from swallowed magnets

There was a good reason for your mom to tell you not to put your toys in your mouth: they can hurt you. 

In an effort to prevent children from suffering further harm, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) staff has filed an administrative complaint against Maxfield & Oberton Holdings LLC, of New York, alleging that Buckyballs and Buckycubes contain a defect in the design, packaging, warnings, and instructions, which pose a substantial risk of injury to the public. 

The complaint seeks -- among other things-- an order that the firm stop selling Buckyballs and Buckycubes, notify the public of the defect, and offer consumers a full refund. 

Stopping sales 

In response to a request from CPSC staff, a number of retailers have voluntarily agreed to stop selling Buckyballs, Buckycubes, and similar products manufactured by other companies. 

CPSC staff called upon these retailers to cease distribution of high-powered, manipulative magnetic products after dozens of young children and teenagers swallowed multiple magnets, which connected inside their gastrointestinal tracts and caused internal injuries requiring surgery. eBay has also agreed to implement steps to remove listings by sellers for these items. 

Voluntary recall plan fails 

The commission staff filed the administrative complaint against Maxfield & Oberton after discussions with the company and its representatives failed to result in a voluntary recall plan that considered to be adequate. This type of legal action against a company is rare; this is only the second administrative complaint filed by CPSC in the past 11 years. 

In May 2010, CPSC and Maxfield & Oberton announced a cooperative recall of about 175,000 Buckyball high powered magnets sets, because they were labeled “Ages 13+” and did not meet the federal mandatory toy standard, F963-08. The standard requires that such powerful loose as received magnets not be sold for children younger than 14. 

The Buckyballs and Buckycubes sets contain up to 216 powerful rare earth magnets. 

Multiple injuries 

At the time of the 2010 recall, Maxfield & Oberton was aware of two reports of children swallowing one or more magnets without injury. Subsequent to the recall, CPSC staff continued to receive reports of children ingesting the product and learned of incidents in which children had suffered injuries when the magnets attracted to each other through the victim’s gastrointestinal tract. In subsequent months, staff learned of one dozen surgeries, including numerous surgeries that involved Buckyballs. 

In November 2011, CPSC and Maxfield & Oberton worked cooperatively to inform and educate consumers that Buckyballs were intended for adult use only, and although the risk scenarios differ by age group, the danger when multiple rare earth magnets are ingested is the same. However, even after the safety alert, ingestions and injuries continued to occur. 

Since 2009, CPSC staff has learned of more than two dozen ingestion incidents, with at least one dozen involving Buckyballs. Surgery was required in many of incidents. The commission staff alleges in its complaint that it has concluded that despite the attempts to warn purchasers, warnings and education are ineffective and cannot prevent injuries and incidents with these rare earth magnets. 

CPSC has received reports of toddlers finding loose magnets left within reach and placing them in their mouths. It can be extremely difficult for a parent to tell if any of the tiny magnets are missing from a set. In some of the reported incidents, toddlers have accessed loose magnets left on a refrigerator and other parts of the home. 

Serious consequences

Use of the product by tweens and teenagers to mimic piercings of the tongue, lip or cheek has resulted in incidents where the product is unintentionally inhaled and swallowed. These ingestion incidents occur when children receive it as a gift or gain access to the product in their homes or from friends. 

When two or more magnets are swallowed, they can attract to one another through the stomach and intestinal walls, resulting in serious injuries, such as holes in the stomach and intestines, intestinal blockage, blood poisoning and possibly death. Medical professionals may not diagnose the need for immediate medical intervention in such cases, resulting in worsening of the injuries. 

Due to the number of ingestion incidents received by CPSC staff since the 2010 recall announcement and 2011 safety alert, CPSC staff seeks the remedies outlined in the complaint to stop further incidents and injuries to children.

In an effort to prevent children from suffering further harm, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) staff has filed an administrative complaint ht...
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High-Powered Magnets a Deadly Danger to Children

Increasing reports of children swallowing magnets, with severe consequences

Faced with increasing reports of children swallowing high-powered magnets, federal safety regulators are reminding parents that magnets and kids don't mix.

Although the risk scenarios differ by age group, the danger is the same, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said. When two or more magnets are swallowed, they can attract one another internally, resulting in serious injuries, such as small holes in the stomach and intestines, intestinal blockage, blood poisoning and even death.

Reports of incidents involving these high-powered ball-bearing magnets have increased since 2009. Specifically, CPSC received one incident report in 2009, seven in 2010 and 14 through October 2011. These 22 incidents have involved children ranging in age from 18 months to 15 years old.

Of the reported incidents, 17 involved magnet ingestion and 11 required surgical removal of the magnets. When a magnet has to be removed surgically, it often requires the repair of the child's damaged stomach and intestines.

"We want parents to be aware of the danger associated with these innocent looking magnets," said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. "The potential for serious injury and death if multiple magnets are swallowed demands that parents and medical professionals be aware of this hidden hazard and know how to treat a child in distress."

Age 14

High-powered magnets and magnet components that are of a size that can be swallowed are prohibited in toys for children younger than age 14.

The reported incidents involve magnets that are marketed as desk toys and stress relievers for adults who use the magnets to create patterns and build shapes. Often, they are sold in sets of 200 or more magnets in stationery, office supply and gift stores, and also on the Internet.

CPSC has received reports of toddlers finding loose pieces of magnets or magnets left within reach. It can be extremely difficult for a parent to tell if any of the tiny magnets are missing from a set. In some of the reported incidents, toddlers have accessed loose magnets left on a table, refrigerator, sofa or the floor.

With tweens and teenagers, how the product is being used has resulted in magnets being unintentionally inhaled and swallowed. CPSC is also aware of instances where the magnets were swallowed intentionally. To mimic body piercings, the older children are placing two or more magnets on opposite sides of their ear lobes, tongue and nose.

"We sell our magnetic desk toy product, Nanospheres, on Amazon.com for adults only. As the Amazon product description and warning labels on the product itself state, these products are hazardous if ingested and are not appropriate for young children," said Dan Taggert, CEO of Kringles Toys and Gifts, manufacturer of Nanospheres.

"High-powered magnets, such as Buckyballs, are products for adult use only and should be kept away from all children," said Craig Zucker, CEO of Maxfield and Oberton, the manufacturer of Buckyballs.

CPSC, Kringles Toys and Gifts and Maxfield and Oberton are urging consumers who have purchased magnet sets for children younger than 14 years of age (or households with children under 14 years of age) to remove access to the sets by children immediately and contact the firms for a refund.

Safety tips

CPSC offers the following tips to avoid magnet ingestion injuries and advice on what to do if you suspect that your child has swallowed magnets:

  • Keep small magnets away from young children who might swallow them.
  • Look out for loose magnet pieces - and regularly inspect toys and children's play areas for missing or dislodged magnets.
  • If you suspect that magnets have been swallowed, seek medical attention immediately.
  • Look for abdominal symptoms, such as abdominal pains, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Note that in x-rays multiple magnetic pieces may appear as a single object.
Faced with increasing reports of children swallowing high-powered magnets, federal safety regulators are reminding parents tdhat magnets and kids don't mix...
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Toymaker Fined $1.1 Million For Consumer Violations

Company accused of not providing data on products


Mega Brands America Inc., of Livingston, N.J., formerly Rose Art Industries Inc., has agreed to pay a $1.1 million civil penalty, settling allegations that the company failed to provide the government with timely information about dangers to children with Magnetix magnetic building sets, as required under federal law.

In December of 2005, Rose Art filed an "initial report" with the Consumer Product Safety Commission that a 22-month-old child from Washington state had died, due to ingesting multiple magnets that fell out of pieces from a Magnetix set. The report contained no other product or incident information and Rose Art attributed the magnets falling out to unusually abusive play by the toddler's older siblings.

On February 1, 2006, Rose Art submitted a full report that again lacked incident and product information, the agency said. Rose Art stated that it did not retain any complaint or incident records. On March 31, 2006, Rose Art voluntarily recalled nearly 4 million Magnetix sets for users under the age of 6.

After discovering documents that led CPSC staff to believe Rose Art had compiled incident information, a subpoena was issued to the firm — which had been renamed Mega Brands America and was under new ownership and control — to obtain product and incident information.

CPSC said it learned through the subpoena that at the time Rose Art filed its "initial report" in December 2005, it had received over 1,100 consumer complaints that magnets had fallen out of plastic pieces from dozens of different Magnetix models. Additionally, the subpoena revealed that Rose Art had received at least one report of an injury due to magnet ingestion, prior to the toddler's death in Washington state.

By the time Rose Art agreed to the recall of Magnetix in March 2006, it had received more than 1,500 complaints of magnets falling out of plastic pieces in more than 65 different models of Magnetix, according to the CPSC.

In April 2007, Mega Brands America expanded the recall of Magnetix sets for users of any age, after more than 25 children suffered intestinal injuries that required surgery to remove the magnets.

Federal law requires firms to report to CPSC within 24 hours of obtaining information reasonably supporting the conclusion that a product contains a defect which could create a substantial product hazard, creates an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death, or violates any consumer product safety rule, or any other rule, regulation, standard, or ban enforced by CPSC.

In agreeing to settle this matter, Mega Brands America and its parent, Mega Brands Inc., of Montreal, Canada contend that 1) Mega Brands Inc. did not know of the Magnetix defect at the time it acquired Rose Art and 2) Rose Art's prior owners never advised Mega Brands Inc. of the problems of associated with Magnetix.

CPSC said it strongly encourages consumers to check to see if they have any of the recalled building sets and return them to Mega Brands for a free replacement toy. Potentially millions of recalled units remain in homes today and accessible to young children.



Toymaker Fined $1.1 Million For Consumer Violations...
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Battat Recalls 'Magnabild' Magnetic Construction Sets

January 23, 2008 
Battat Inc. is recalling about 125,000 'Magnabild' magnetic building sets.

Small magnets inside the building pieces can fall out. Magnets found by young children can be swallowed or aspirated. If more than one magnet is swallowed, the magnets can attract each other and cause intestinal perforations or blockages, which can be fatal.

CPSC and Battat have received 16 reports of magnets coming out of the long flexible rods, 1-inch rods, and of the corners of square building pieces. No injuries have been reported.

This recall involves the 293-piece (item number BB1502H) and the180-piece (item number BB1431H) Magnabild Magnetic Building System sets.

Both sets come in rotating display cases that contain 1-inch and 4-inch rods with magnets, curved 1-inch rods, triangle and square pieces with magnets, square-shaped plastic building pieces, triangles and 5-sided pieces, and metal balls. The pieces come in different colors. All of the plastic building pieces, except the 4-inch flexible rods, have the word Magnabild in raised lettering on them. The item number is found on a hang tag attached to the set. The product is designed for children older than three years.

The sets, manufactured in China, were sold at various retailers nationwide and online sellers from 2005 through 2007 for between $30 and $40.

Consumers should immediately take the recalled Magnabild Magnetic Building System away from children and contact Battat to receive a pre-paid mailer to return the toy and to receive a free replacement product.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Battat at (800) 247-6144 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit the firms Web site at www.battaco.com.

The recall is being conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Battat Recalls 'Magnabild' Magnetic Construction Sets...
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Polly Pocket Dolls With Magnets Recalled

November 22, 2006
Reports of at least three serious injuries have prompted the recall of more than 2 million Mattel's Polly Pocket Magnetic Play Sets.

Tiny magnets inside the dolls and accessories can fall out undetected by parents and caregivers. The magnets can be swallowed, aspirated by young children or placed by a child in their nose or ears.

When more than one magnet is swallowed, the magnets can attract each other and cause intestinal perforation, infection or blockage, which can be fatal. Aspiration to the lungs requires immediate surgery. Magnets placed in the nose or ears can cause swelling and be difficult to remove.

CPSC is aware of 170 reports of the small magnets coming out of these recalled toys.

There were three reports of serious injuries to children who swallowed more than one magnet. All three suffered intestinal perforations that required surgery. A 2-year-old child was hospitalized for seven days and a 7-year-old child was hospitalized for 12 days. An 8-year-old child was also hospitalized.

The recalled Polly Pocket play sets contain plastic dolls and accessories that have small magnets. The magnets measure 1/8 inch in diameter and are imbedded in the hands and feet of some dolls, and in the plastic clothing, hair pieces and other accessories to help the pieces attach to the doll or to the doll's house. The model number is printed on the bottom of the largest pieces on some of the play sets.

More images below

Contact Mattel if you cannot find a model number on your product to determine if it is part of the recall. Polly Pocket magnetic play sets currently on store shelves are not included in this recall.

Polly Pocket Magnetic Play SetsItem Number
Polly Pocket!™ Polly Place™ Hangin? Out House™B2632
Polly Pocket!™ Polly Place™ Treetop Clubhouse™B3158
Polly Pocket!™ Spa Day™B3201
Polly Totally!™ Polly Place™ Totally Tiki Diner™B7118
Polly Pocket!™ Quik-Clik™ BoutiqueG8605
Polly Pocket!™ Quik-Clik™ City Pretty PlaysetH1537
Polly Pocket!™ Quik-Clik™ Sporty Style PlaysetH1538
Polly Pocket!™ Totally Zen™ PlaysetH3211

Polly Pocket Dolls With Magnets Recalled...
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