Buckyballs to be Banned in the US

One of the great things about being a geek is no longer having to make excuses for why you buy toys. I personally own more Transformers than my kids.

But also, there are some toys that are made for adults that use science in a very fun way. For instance Buckyballs.

If you don’t already know what these crazy things are, they are the simplest and most basic in concept, but are just so versatile and crazy fun. A heaping pile of powerful, magnetic, chrome ball bearings is an unlikely toy, but it turns into the most amazing things when piled the right way.

However, by the deep wisdom of the Consumer Product Safety Commission these amazing building products will soon be pulled from shelves, citing that 20 cases of children swallowing them.

Yes, swallowing magnets is bad. They could cross paths in different parts of the digestive track and never become dislodged creating bigger problems. Bad.

Well this is very unfortunate for Craig Zucker, founder and CEO of Maxfield & Oberton who feels that the CPSC is “targeting” their firm and goes as far as to say “and magnets in general”.

I might find that last part to be a little silly, if it was not for the fact that the CPSC is banning a toy because children ate them. The toy is marketed on the box to those of age 13 and over. While the CPSC requires magnetic toys of this power to not be sold to under 14 year-olds, they are splitting hairs. The point is calling it unsafe, and this single year is not exactly going to change the outcome.

There were 20 incidents of misuse of the product by an unintended demographic. There is a warning that it contains (really consists entirely of) small parts. And over half a billion magnets in the market really puts things in perspective.

I personally see this as a parenting fault, and not at all the responsibility of Buckyballs. I mean honestly, with all the existing dangers on toys we willingly give our children, why ban something that was never intended for them.

At this point they should ban bicycles, skateboards, Lego, or any toy that can be ingested or hurt using. But no. They ban a toy meant for teenagers and adult kids.

Is this an issue of poor parenting? Do you think Buckballs are really dangerous?


24 Responses to Buckyballs to be Banned in the US

  1. My son stuck a rock up his nose, and we went to the ER to get it out. Two years later, he stuck a rock in his ear–yep, another trip to the ER. Kids do these things and often get into things they're not supposed to. As parents, we just deal with the consequences. I'm not about to start campaigning that daycare get rid of all its rocks.

    • Sadly you're more forgiving/realistic than most people now-a-days. In your situation I think many people would have tried to sue the school for not keeping a proper eye on the children while they were in the yard.

      I totally agree with you, but I think many people just try to make a stink about whatever they can rather than accept any sort of personal responsibility.

    • It's more than just child-proof. People want things to be stupid proof. The age of Common Sense is dying.

  2. First on the list: thumbtacks. It's way more dangerous than magnet balls to swallow, I'm sure. It's intended for adults or teens. So, why not ban everything that's as small and dangerous to swallow? People are so dumb sometimes…

  3. Case of poor policy more than poor child raising. Children heal so well partly because they will hurt themselves. It's a part of growing up. You can take measures to make areas safer, but accidents will happen when it comes to kids. A policy like this denies reality on multiple fronts.

  4. So lemme get this straight – we dare not ban assault rifles or tactical armor, but yes, by all means, let's outlaw little magnetic balls. Because, yeah, a few small-ish caliber rounds to the gut would be preferable to getting a small magnet lodged within the digestive tract.

    This is knee-jerk reactionism triggered by poor parenting judgement. Its our job as parents to reduce the likelihood of our young children putting hazardous things in their mouths, be that magnets, rocks, Twinkies, Red Bulls.

    • Wow!, Comparing a toy to firearms and body armor??? Please don’t try to take this in THAT direction.
      Banning buckyballs because children because they might swallow them makes as much sense as parents buying their children games rated AO and then bitching because their child starts acting in an inappropriate way! Parents should start parenting and stop relying on the idiot box to keep their children out of the way! Parenting a child means supervising and interacting with them nearly constantly until they are out of the phase where they try to eat everything they can.

  5. Yes, this is a parenting fault. The product is clearly not intended for children, and knowing that it may, in fact, be dangerous for them means that parents should act accordingly and keep it away from them.

    The simple fact is, hundreds of thousands of people have bought these things, and only 20 have been hurt? And, technically, the article says "swallowed," so we can safely assume that even fewer got hurt. More kids swallow loose change that that each year. Should we ban coins? You wouldn't let a toddler play with a box of ball bearings, so don't let them play with a box of magnetic ones. You don't let toddlers play with bullets, or paint thinner, or thumbtacks, yet millions of parents around the world keep these things in their house with small children around. Some simple forethought and *responsibility* is key here. But no, thanks to a group of less than two dozen inattentive and/or irresponsible parents, the Government is going to take away the freedom from hundreds of millions of people to enjoy a great artistic and scientific toy.

  6. Per the below, at least one child has died from ingesting small round magnets. http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml06/06127
    "CPSC is aware of 34 incidents involving small magnets, including one death and four serious injuries. 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."

    • How many children died from chewing cigarette filters? From bicycle riding? From inhaling or swallowing toothpicks? From accidental electrocution?

  7. When they say "banned in the US" Do they mean you cant buy them in the US or you do they mean you cant own in the US period? I am not will to get rid of this toy due to some cpsc noscence

  8. The US is turning into such a nanny state. I lived in Texas for 3 years (04-07) and while I was there, school districts thought that it was smart to ban the playing of Tag at recess in school. I’m sorry, tag???? Yes, because someone might get hurt. Geez, when I was in school, I knew a kid who would jump of the swings backwards, this same kid also ran full force into the gym wall during a race we were having in PE and broke his arm. Maybe we should be banning playground equipment and PE as well. Hell, Kinder Eggs are already banned, what other fun things can we find to ban.

    Parents, take some responsibility for your kids! Quite relegating it to gov’t rules.

  9. First the easy bake oven, now bucky balls? Why can't adults supervise their children? Why must they make such a big deal over this? If a child hurts themselves doing something stupid, they learn not to do it. I remember clearly sticking my finger in the socket to see what it felt like. I can assure you I never did it again. I used to suck on earrings–because they were small–and I accidentally pierced my tongue. I was a stupid kid, but I learned that I could get hurt doing things like that. Maybe our children need to learn that lesson for themselves.

    • The name is “Lego”.
      It’s a trademark and a collective noun – there is no plural form.
      What you’re saying is like “when I turn on the tap, waters will come out” or “there are lots of sugars in my sugar bowl”.
      If you were to visit the official Lego web site, you would find that at no time is an ‘s’ put on the end of the word “Lego”.

  10. I don't think that "is it really dangerous" is even a question. Absolutely it is dangerous. If my 2 year old got her hands on those magnets and they could rip a hole in her intestines as they join together… yeah, that's stinking dangerous.

    But as I saw someone comment on yahoo – when does it end? Moving to paper-only money so that we don't have any coins in our country? Banning kitchen knives in homes with underage children? No more electrical outlets allowed in homes with children? No running water, bathtubs, toilets, sinks, large bowls nor any other receptacle more than 1/2" deep that could hold enough liquid for a child to drown?

    Requiring changes to the packaging to clarify that they are dangerous to the point of being life threatening when swallowed (so that parents don't mistakenly think "it's just a magnet, no big deal, it's like swallowing a coin") is one thing. Outlawing them takes all responsibility off the individual and sets a bad precedent.

  11. In 2010, over 30,000 children went to the hospital for swallowing a coins. Zinc, a metal found in most coins today, is very corrosive. (Yes, zinc is an essential mineral for the body, as are many others that are otherwise dangerous and toxic in amounts more than micrograms.)

    Government, clean your own house first. Every coin is to be stamped with a warning for age appropriate use and handling.

    Start parenting people, or the government will do it for you!

  12. Just another repercussion of being in a nanny state. This is what happens when enough lemmings tell the government they aren't smart enough to take care of themselves.