While this is not an official recall, it’s a pretty scary story. Magnetix (which we have never carried in our store) is being blamed for the death of a 22-month old boy and the serious illnesses of two other young boys, all of whom live in Washington state. Apparently, the small magnets became dislodged from the plastic toy and each of these children swallowed at least two of them, leading to internal injuries. You can read the full story here. It’s very sad.
I spent a long time tonight talking with one of the principals at Creative Zone, which manufactures Goobi, a magnetic construction toy that we do carry. I was hoping for some reassurance that this problem is limited to just this particular brand, but my friend at Goobi was more pragmatic. They have launched into action, sending as much information as they could gather to their manufacturing facility and doing some informal experiments of their own to try to determine what might have gone wrong.
From what I understood, this is very likely an isolated incident, and the geographic concentration of the problem supports that theory. The Magnetix are manufactured for big-box stores and mass market, so price point is a key consideration. More expensive products feature higher quality plastic and better manufacturing processes than the Magnetix. The team at Goobi spent a lot of time yesterday trying to dislodge the magnets from their plastic rods, and they had great difficulty.
Magnetic construction toys are incredibly popular (not to mention fun), and I hope that this issue does prove to be very limited in its scope. In the meantime, while other manufacturers work to ensure the safety of their products, parents should show some extra due diligance. Make sure that you are only giving these toys to children who meet the recommended age guidelines (usually 4 and up). Inspect the pieces of the set periodically to make sure that no magnets are missing or loose. If you do discover any faulty pieces, take them away from your children and contact the manufacturer immediately.