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Aqua Dots Recall

Isn’t this getting to be ridiculous already? Today, the CPSC announced a recall of the brand new Aqua Dots product line from SpinMaster. These little beads were designed to be a sort of three dimensional alternative to the popular classic Hama Beads (those little tubular beads that fuse together when you iron them). The Aqua Dots are completely spherical, and instead of requiring heat to stick together, they need only water.

I saw them at Toy Fair and thought they were cool, and then ordered a whole bunch for the holidays back about a month ago. Since then, I started hearing rumblings from other retailers about how the structures didn’t hold up well over time. I was already considering sending them back when the shipment arrived earlier this week, but now that I can cross that decision off the list.

Apparently, whatever coating they used to make the beads stick together when wet is actually toxic when several beads are ingested. The chemicals are metabolized into the “date rape drug”, resulting in vomiting and a temporary comatose state.

The recall started in Australia and has spread into the United States. A small number of children in both countries have been hospitalized.

If this were the only toy recall to hit the news over the past few months, this would be a huge story. And frankly, I hope that we aren’t so anesthetized by now that this new recall slips through the cracks. It’s really a different sort of problem, and it deserves some attention. The lead recalls come down to issues of supply chains (and carelessness). Aqua Dots are a result of misguided innovation (and carelessness). But as toys and technology continue to cross paths, who will define the measures a manufacturer must take to assure that a product is completely safe before it hits the market? It’s an important question.

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