More than a decade ago, manufacturers began marketing a different kind of toy magnet. Unlike the ferrite magnets usually associated with toys for children, neodymium iron boron, or rare-earth magnets, became an executive curiosity for adults, and a dangerous attraction for children.
With their small size and powerful cohesion, these small magnets marketed as BuckyBalls or BuckyCubes, remain a danger to children and teens. Through administrative and court action, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) aims to reduce the presence of these toys in stores and in homes. Through federal rule-making initiated last August, the CPSC further intends to develop guidelines for these products in the marketplace.
In November, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) released its annual Trouble in Toyland report, a publication that highlights toy dangers to consumers before the holiday season. The report noted the danger of BuckyBalls and estimated the toys had been the cause of 1,700 emergency room visits for children ages 4 to 12 between 2009 and 2011.
The primary danger of the magnets is their small size and ease of ingestion.
Once in the body, the magnets stick together, often through intestinal or bowel tissue causing ruptures, blockages and even gangrene.
Surgery is often required to remove the magnets, sometimes causing further and dangerous complications.
In December, the manufacturer of BuckyBalls executive toys, Maxfield and Oberton, bowed to pressure from the CPSC and ceased selling the popular toys. In April this year, six retailers including Toys R Us and Barnes and Noble voluntarily recalled the BuckyBall products they sold.
Like many toys, BuckyBalls are fun but dangerous, especially in the youngest hands. Seek legal advice from a products liability lawyer if injured by a dangerous toy or other consumer product.