THE VALLEY DISPATCH, Leave it to a bunch of adults to spoil kids’ fun at holiday season.
W.A.T.C.H., a group of liability lawyers from Massachusetts, has come out with its 2005 list of “Most Dangerous Toys.”
In a press conference last week, attorney Jim Swartz seemed downright angry when announcing the Big Ten. This guy is passionate about his topic. You get the feeling that he didn’t get many fun toys when he was a kid. He seems bitter.
“Don’t assume that because the toymaker says it’s safe that it is safe,” he announced through clenched teeth.
W.A.T.C.H is a not-so-clever acronym that stands for “World Against Toys Causing Harm.”
OK, let’s look at the toys.
In no particular order we’ll start with Baby Serena, which retails at $12.99. Seems that Baby Serena comes with a baby bottle and a removable nipple that could be swallowed and pose risk of choking for “oral-age-children.” They actually use the term, “oral-age-children.” I supposed, by extension, that there must be “oral-age pre-teens,” and “oral-age-adolescents.” I know for a fact that I’m a certified “oral-age-adult.”
Back to Baby Serena. Anything can become a choking hazard if it gets into a toddler’s hands. When my kids were little their bedroom was a veritable landmine of choking hazards. Do you suppose they ever put their crayons away when they were finished using them?
I won’t go down the entire list but the group puts the same alarmist emphasis on each one, from the cuddly little Animal Alley Ponies to City Blocks building blocks, both of which pose a choking threat.
The Lord Of The Rings Crossbow Set with three power settings can fire a foam arrow more than 30 feet. It comes with a warning not to aim for the face.
“Warning or no warning, this still poses a threat,” snarled Swartz, who referred to the toy as a “weapon.”
We also played with marbles. A choking hazard if there ever was one. We played with baseball bats, too. And we rode our bicycles all over town and never wore a helmet. And we had stupendous snowball fights. We’re all adults now and we have all our limbs intact. It’s amazing we’re still alive to talk about it.
When it comes to protecting our children, I think we may be overcompensating a bit. Maybe because mom and dad both work and we have this feeling of impending doom, we go a little too far to make up for our shortcomings.
I do agree with one toy on the W.A.T.C.H. list. The Spatmatic Pistol Paintball Shooter looks a little dangerous to me. This thing fires .50 caliber paint balls at high velocity and could definitely result in serious injury. But if you want to buy one for your kid, who am I to discourage you? And who is the W.A.T.C.H. organization to tell you not to buy one?
But I’m aggravated by groups like W.A.T.C.H. It’s not so much the things they are saying, but the way they say it. They seem to have this attitude that we are all just mindless consumers who aren’t intelligent enough to know what’s in our best interest.
Common sense among adults and children should be the prevailing thinking.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get to the mall and pick up a few things.
Dennis Shaughnessey’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.