Deadly toys creep back onto market

Published: 
20 Nov 2011

The Queensland Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is reminding parents and traders about the dangers of ‘yo-yo balls’ following the seizure of more than 20,000 of the banned toys in recent weeks.

The Qld Minister responsible for Fair Trading Paul Lucas said while yo-yo balls were banned in Australia because of the strangulation risk they posed to children, the message seemed to have been forgotten by a number of Queensland wholesalers and retailers.

“The Qld Office of Fair Trading recently uncovered the yo-yo balls as part of its pre-Christmas blitz on market traders,” Mr Lucas said.

“Three yo-yo balls were discovered at a Coorparoo market stall and seized, Qld Fair Trading officers then traced the toys to a wholesaler on the Gold Coast.

“An inspection of the wholesaler’s site uncovered more than 19,000 yo-yo balls ready for distribution and information relating to the sale of a further 11,755 to 150 stores across Australia.

“The yo-yo balls already sold have now been recalled by the supplier who advised he was unaware of the ban.

“Qld Fair Trading officers have since seized a further 450 yo-yo balls from an unrelated Logan retailer.”

Mr Lucas said while yo-yo balls may look like a bit of harmless fun they were actually extremely dangerous for children.

“The elasticised cord that produces the yo-yo effect can stretch to up to a metre in length which means it can easily wind around a child’s neck during play,” he said.

“Unfortunately due to the sticky nature of the toys, once wound around the neck they grip and can strangle the child before he or she can get help.

“In 2003 OFT received reports of two incidents where the cord on a yo-yo ball wrapped around the neck of a child.

“Following the reports an interim ban was declared in Queensland in May 2003 and a permanent, national ban was declared under the new Australian Consumer Law in February 2011.”

Mr Lucas said some yo-yo balls on the market contained liquid in the body of the toy that posed a further danger to children.

“Generally the liquid found in yo-yo balls is water or the toxic, oily solvent toluene that can leak if the toy is punctured during rough play,” he said.

“This liquid can cause illness if swallowed and a reaction if it comes into contact with the skin.”

According to Mr Lucas the safest option for parents this Christmas was to buy their gifts from toy specialists.

“Specialty toy and department stores tend to have strict programs in place to comply with toy safety standards,” he said.

Mr Lucas advised the OFT’s consumer protection colleagues in other states had been notified about the risk arising from the distribution of the toys to stores across Australia.

For product safety information visit www.fairtrading.qld.gov.au or www.productsafety.gov.au or call 13 QGOV (13 74 68).

A yo-yo water ball (and similar products) are toys:

  • intended to be thrown and returned to the hand
  • with an elasticised cord capable of extending at least 500 mm in length and usually with a:
    -loop on one end to wear around the finger, and
    -soft synthetic object on the other

They may:

  • be filled with air, or a liquid (e.g. water, toluene – a toxic oily solvent)
  • contain a novelty feature, such as a flashing light
  • resemble the form of a cartoon animal

For the purposes of this ban the following goods are exempt:

  • outdoor and sporting toys, e.g. a ball which is used to practice tennis whose elastic tension cord is intended to be anchored
  • a bat with a ball attached by an elastic cord
  • goods known as the “Yo-Be Sling Disc”

Contact details

Media Contact: 0439 781 886

Qld Office of Fair Trading - Department of Justice and Attorney-General

For more information on product safety in Qld visit www.fairtrading.qld.gov.au or call 13 QGOV (13 74 68).

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More information on product safety and the mandatory safety standards can be found at www.productsafety.gov.au. Australian product recalls are published at www.recalls.gov.au, and you can also follow product safety at the ACCC on Twitter: @ProductSafetyAU.
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