A big, red 4x4 vehicle and a plastic fish wearing glasses are among 20 "dangerous toys" bought in area stores last week, according to a Maryland consumer and environmental organization.
The Maryland Public Interest Research Group today listed those and other playthings as unsafe because they pose choking hazards, particularly to children under 3.
"There is indeed trouble in toyland, right here in Maryland," said Daniel Pontious, executive director of MaryPIRG, as he demonstrated alleged hazards posed by the toys labeled unsafe at a news conference.
The large 4x4 vehicle called Jeep Jr., labeled appropriate for children 18 months to 4 years, has a reflector that snaps off and could be swallowed by a small child, he said. It is made by Power Wheels/Kransco Group of Fort Wayne, Ind.
The Pull-Strings Swimming Fish and two similar toys, a swimming frog and a swimming hippo, were called unsafe because the glasses they wear are easily removed and small enough to be swallowed, Pontious said. These are made in China by Masudaya, according to the list, and carry no age label.
"Choking hazards pose the greatest portion of toy-related deaths," said Pontious, citing statistics from the Consumer Product Safety Commission that show 19 of 37 toy-related deaths in the past 18 months involved choking.
The list, being distributed nationally, was compiled after PIRG researchers in 26 states surveyed toy stores. It deals only with toys that pose choking hazards, he said. Some toys on the list, such as the Pull-A-Long Intelligence Wooden Play Bench (no manufacturer listed), were labeled for age 3 and up without explanation. Parents might assume the age was based on skill or intelligence and buy it for a younger child, who is still at risk of choking on the small parts, he said.
Parents "should not assume that simply because a toy is on the shelf it is considered safe," Pontious said.
PIRG's list of unsafe toys is available as part of "Trouble in Toyland," the group's annual report on unsafe toys. Copies are available for $6 from MaryPIRG, 7338 Baltimore Ave., No. 108, College Park 20740.