Public Service Announcement: Trouble in Toyland


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Who will think of the children?"quoth Maude Flanders. Around this time of year, it's the no-fun folks at the Missouri Public Interest Research Group, who on Tuesday called a press conference to warn holiday shoppers about dangerous toys. But isn't a dangerous toy just an educational opportunity in a bite-size bit?

Here, then, are the three of the year's most educational toys and the three lessons they teach.

Toy: Real Wood Shape Sorter Barn
Lesson: Choking is scary

Anyone with kids knows the lengths precocious little ones will go to find something to chew on (hello, litter box). But taste is so fleeting; fear makes lessons stick. Enter the Real Wood Shape Sorter Barn.

Some of the wooden numbers (see picture below) are small enough to fit through the Consumer Product Safety Commission's choke tube -- a toilet paper tube is a good at-home approximation -- which means they will lodge nice and tightly in the windpipe of a 0-6-year-old. Kids will never take air for granted again.

To maximize educational effect, give the "choking is scary" lesson up to a minute to sink in.


Toy: Pretty Princess Puppy Purse
Lesson: The power of regret


a pink sheen and spongy feel, the Pretty Princess Puppy Purse looks as

irresistible as a strawberry-frosted doughnut. (The rhinestones are

special sprinkles!) But behind those adorable, oddly crowned puppies is

a lesson waiting to be learned -- a lesson about chemistry.


which gives the pink plastic its supple shape, is known to cause

developmental and reproductive problems. Kids who can't resist the urge

to taste pink plastic puppy princess purse deliciousness will learn the

power of regret when they're 25 and their uteruses are saying heck no!

Now that's a lasting lesson about understanding the consequences of your actions.


Toy: Kota and Pals Stomper Triceratops
Lesson: Listen to your parents


kid's parents are usually pretty handy when it comes to answering

questions. Mother knows best, after all. But sometimes children aren't

ready to heed unsolicited advice. For those problem children, there's

the Kota and Pals Stomper Triceratops.

The bellow of this fuzzy, mechanical dinosaur is up to 90 decibels at very close range, and that exceeds the 85 decibel ceiling put in place by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Kids may pretend they can't hear their parents now, but after a while, the act will be real.


when they join the 15 percent of 6-17-year-olds who show signs of

hearing loss, they'll certainly wish they listened to their parents

when they could have.


All these toys are on the shelves now. So, parents, pick up the hottest educational children's toys since Baby Einstein -- before they're gone!


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