Death in the Toy Box as CPSC Announces Massive Recall of 3.8 Million Magnetic Building Sets That Have Killed One Child and Seriously Injured at Least 4 Others

By Steven DiJoseph

Small objects and children simply don’t mix. Inevitably, if a child is allowed to play with any object that is either too small itself, or that has small parts, which can become detached (intentionally or by accident), the object or the part winds up in the child’s mouth.

Once that occurs, a number of things can happen and none of them is good. The potentially deadly consequences include:

·         becoming lodged in the trachea (windpipe);

·         getting stuck in the esophagus;

·         being aspirated into the lung;

·         blocking and/or perforating the small intestine;

·         heavy-metal poisoning from lead, mercury, iron, etc.;

·         chemical poisoning; and

·         infections.

Most times, the object or part is one that the child obtains by accident or carelessness such as in the case of coins, keys, hard candies, age-inappropriate food items (grapes, hot dogs, raw carrots, etc.), metal nuts, bolts, batteries, paper clips, erasers, and bottle caps for example.

Sometimes, however, the danger is lurking in the child’s toy box. In such cases, the problem is far more serious because parents, babysitters, and daycare workers assume the objects are safe and have been appropriately tested.

That assumption can be fatal since cheap, badly designed, or poorly constructed toys or toys intended for older children are as dangerous as any other foreign object when in the hands of a small child. Mass produced toys from China are also high on the list of potentially hazardous products that are repeatedly on the CPSC recall list.

In a few cases, however, a toy will present a deadly combination of hazards (choking, blockage, perforation, and poisoning). When such a “toy” makes it to the market, consumer advocates scratch their heads and ask; who thought this was a good idea?

In the past year (as in prior years) the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has recalled several million dangerous toys that pose either a choking hazard or a risk of lead poisoning. Yesterday, however, one of those multiple-risk toys was recalled after at least one death, four serious injuries, and 34 reported incidents.

On Friday, the CPSC announced a voluntary recall of some 3.8 million “All Magnetix Magnetic Building Sets” manufactured in China for Rose Art Industries Inc., of Livingston, New Jersey and advised consumers to stop using the recalled products immediately.

According to the CPSC: “Tiny magnets inside the plastic building pieces and rods can fall out. Magnets found by young children can be swallowed or aspirated. If more than one magnet is swallowed, the magnets can attract to each other and cause intestinal perforation or blockage, which can be fatal. This product is unsuitable for young children.”

The CPSC is already aware of 34 incidents involving small magnets, including one death and four serious injuries.

The agency reported that: “A 20-month-old boy died after he swallowed magnets that twisted his small intestine and created a blockage. Three children ages ranging from 3 to 8 had intestinal perforations that required surgery and hospitalization in intensive care. A 5-year-old child aspirated two magnets that were surgically removed from his lung.”

The massive recall extends to all Magnetix magnetic building sets including the X-treme Combo, Micro, and Extreme sets. The sets contain 20 to 200 plastic building pieces and 20 to 100 1/2-inch diameter steel balls.

The building pieces are red, yellow, blue, and green, and are shaped in 1 1/2-inch squares, 1-inch triangles, and cylinder rods. Some plastic building pieces have “Magnetix” imprinted on them.

The recalled products were sold at Wal-Mart, Target, Toys R Us, Fred Meyer, Design Science Toys Ltd., A.C. Moore, and other toy and arts and crafts stores nationwide.

The Magnetix magnetic building sets were sold from September 2003 through March 2006 for between $20 and $60, depending on the size of the set. The replacement program does not include sets at retail.

This is one product that consumers must stop using immediately and return to Rose Art for a free replacement product that is suitable for young children under the age of 6.

Consumers should be sure to keep all small magnet parts out of the hands of children who mouth objects, especially children under the age of three.

For additional information, contact Rose Art at (800) 779-7122 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or visit Rose Art’s Web site at

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