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Mishap, mayhem await in plush toy aisle |
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Mishap, mayhem await in plush toy aisle

Perhaps the most perilous place to be this holiday shopping season is in the plush toy aisle.

There lurks the killer hedgehog.

The stuffed animal might look like the ideal Toys R Us gift for an infant. But according to a consumer group attempting to give the nation a bad case of the heebie-jeebies, the hedgehog’s huggable body and cute smile mask its terrifying menace.

The beast’s soft fibrous hair was deemed easily removable and potentially digestible by the Boston-based World Against Toys Causing Harm. That’s why the $10.99 hedgehog recently landed on WATCH’s “10 Worst Toys” list.

WATCH criticized the toy’s manufacturer for not cautioning parents about the dangers of possible hedgehog hair consumption on its warning tag. Maybe that’s because after advising that all twist ties and plastic loops be removed before giving the toy to a child, there wasn’t sufficient room.

Perhaps our increasingly litigious society mandates the attempt to eliminate every element of risk from life, via the compilation of needless lists such as this one. Most of the toys on the WATCH list contain warnings — some nearly as voluminous as the federal tax code, and most unnecessary to parents possessing an iota of common sense.

Take, for example, another of the worst toys: the Air Storm Firetrek Bow, which shoots arrows made of the unyielding, concrete-like substance known as soft foam. WATCH is worried that this toy presents the potential for eye injuries.


Granted, the bow probably isn’t the ideal gift for children prone to hyperactivity or vertigo, both of which can detrimentally impact the ability to aim. But the toy appears reasonably safe for most kids, provided the kids heed warnings on the package such as “do not shoot at people or animals” and “not for play in complete darkness.”

The same goes for the Radio Flyer Ziggle, which resembles a bicycle and provides 360-degree spinning capability. Its chief danger appears to be that it might cause vertigo and prevent a child from enjoying the Air Storm Firetrek Bow, but Radio Flyer wisely cautions against Ziggle use near “motor vehicles, streets, steps, hills, sloped driveways and swimming pools.”

I could go on, but you get the idea. Why does this worst toy list exist?

I could not reach anyone at WATCH for an explanation last week.

It’s possible everyone there made the decision to stay off of their potentially lethal cellphones, which emit a form of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation that the brain can absorb. (Not that Verizon or AT&T ever warn you about it.)

We can find danger most anywhere, if we look hard enough, even in the seemingly innocent arena of the toy department.

Tread carefully when walking through it.

Killer plush toys are on the prowl.

Eric Heyl is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7857 or [email protected].

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