Scott Hollifield: Terror under the tree - 2017's worst toys
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Right about now, Santa is making a list, checking it twice and then a third time to make sure no good little boy or girl will be maimed by a hazardous doodad in a brightly colored package.

For the 45 th time, a safety advocacy group has released its annual report on the 10 worst toys of the holiday season and, in keeping with tradition, I will raid the group’s press release for an easy column.

World Against Toys Causing Harm (WATCH), a Massachusetts charitable nonprofit founded by the late trial lawyer Edward “Don’t Put That in Your Mouth” Swartz, issued its first bad toy list in the early 70s, back when children had tougher hides, thicker skulls and statistically shorter life spans.

WATCH continues to keep up the good fight.

“Although parents have a right to expect that toys they give to their children are safe, unsafe toys remain an ongoing problem,” WATCH said in a Nov. 14 press release. “Due to poor design, manufacturing and marketing practices, there are toys available for purchase today with the potential to lead to serious injury and even death.”

Since that is the same exact quote from the 2016 press release, not much has changed on the toy safety front except for the names on the naughty list. Here they are:

Hallmark Itty Bittys Baby Stacking Toy. No, it isn’t a toy that involves stacking babies, but a “plush Disney-themed stacking toy with four rattling rings sold without age recommendations or warnings,” WATCH said, adding that it is a choking hazard.

While there are no age recommendations, I would not give it to a teenager for fear he or she would reply, “Thanks, Pop, this will come in handy in a few months,” which turns it from a choking hazard into an immediate heart attack hazard.

Pull Along Pony. The 19-inch cord on Pull Along Pony makes it strangulation and entanglement hazard, according to WATCH, and the packaging carries no warnings. The Humane Society has not weighed in, but I would guess the organization is against pulling ponies anywhere against their wills.

Wonder Woman Battle-Action Sword . WATCH said young children are “encouraged to bear arms, like a popular comic book and movie character, to engage in “(f)ighting alongside men in a war to end all wars…’”

In addition to being a blunt-force injury risk, the toy’s promotional wording implies the only way females can fight alongside males is if they are armed with a Wonder Woman Battle-Action Sword.

“Rhonda, you shall fight alongside us in a war to end all wars. Angie, you stay here and make sure Jeremy doesn’t choke on his Itty Bitty Baby Stacking Toy.”

Spider-Man Spider-Drone (Official Movie Edition) . The package notes the “Drone has rotating blades that move at high speed… Keep spinning rotors away from fingers, hair, eyes and other body parts.”

That sounds like Christmas in the Emergency Room.

“Cindy, pick your finger up off the carpet and hand me your Wonder Woman Battle-Action Sword so I can try to cut these rotors out of your brother’s mullet.”

Nerf Zombie Strike Deadbolt Crossbow. If you heed the warning on the package reading “Do not aim or shoot at eyes or face of people or animals” there is really no reason to even take it out of that package.

Slackers Slackline Classic Series Kit. Possibly, my favorite toy on the list, this is basically a tight rope for “Ages 5+” or “Safe for all ages” or a “strangulation hazard,” according to the detailed packaging covering all the bases.

Rounding out our list, we have the Oval Xylophone (choking and boredom hazard), Hand Fidget Spinners (choking hazard and just plain stupid ), Jetts Heel Wheels (skates that produce actual sparks that “can burn” but actually look pretty cool) and Brianna Babydoll (a “huggable, soft” choking hazard).

And that’s our terror-under-the-tree list for 2017. Good luck, kids. Some of you are going to need it.

Scott Hollifield is editor/GM of The McDowell News in Marion, N.C. and a humor columnist. Contact him at rhollifield@mcdowellnews.com .

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