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Magnetic Buckyballs toys discontinued
Maxfield and Oberton, the maker of Buckyballs, has defended its efforts to keep the magnetic desk toys away from children.
November 2nd, 2012
11:16 AM ET

Magnetic Buckyballs toys discontinued

The popular Buckyballs and Buckycubes magnetic desk toys will be discontinued, its manufacturer said, blaming what it called "baseless and relentless legal badgering" from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

"It's time to bid a fond farewell to the world's most popular adult desk toys," Maxfield and Oberton, the maker of Buckyballs, said on its website this week. "That's right: We're sad to say that Balls and Cubes have a one-way ticket to the Land-of-Awesome-Stuff-You-Should-Have-Bought-When-You-Had-the-Chance."

A limited number of the toys are still available, but no more will be made after they sell out, the company said.

In July, the Consumer Product Safety Commission sued Maxfield and Oberton in an attempt to get the company to stop selling the toys, saying they are hazardous to children. When children swallow the powerful magnets, they can pierce holes in the intestines, the commission said, and some children have required multiple surgeries and lengthy hospitalizations. Since 2009, officials said, there have been at least a dozen ingestions of the Buckyballs magnets.

"CPSC stands behind the case at this time," commission spokesman Scott Wolfson said Friday. "We continue to allege and believe that Buckyballs and Buckycubes are dangerous and defective for young children as well as teenagers."

Internet videos direct older children and teenagers how to use the toys to mimic tongue or cheek piercings, he said, and some have ended up ingesting them.

At the time the suit was filed, Maxfield and Oberton spokesman Andrew Frank said the company would "fight this vigorously," noting that while "some people have misused the product," the toys were marketed to those aged 14 and up, and carried warning labels.

But "we made a tough decision after a lot of thought based on how to protect the integrity of the business, the brand, and begin to move forward," Frank said in an e-mail Friday. "It was time for our team to start focusing on the future and providing innovative products for our loyal customers. We will continue to fight the CPSC and sell our other products."

Wolfson said the Consumer Product Safety Commission did not single out Maxfield and Oberton.

"We have seen incidents with a variety of different brands (of magnetic toys)," he said. "That's why our approach to this hazard has not been exclusive to one company."

Eleven of 13 manufacturers agreed to stop making, importing and selling the toys. Maxfield and Oberton and a Colorado company called Zen Magnets did not, and the commission filed suit against them, Wolfson said. Both suits continue.

Last month, the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition said warning labels on Buckyballs were ineffective.  The group released the results of a new survey of more than 1,700 doctors, who reported at least 480 toy magnet ingestions in the past decade, with 204 occurring in the past year.

“The numbers have skyrocketed post-labeling,” said Dr. Mark Gilger, a pediatric gastroenterologist who helped author the study. “There’s just many examples of people ignoring the labels, or people who haven’t paid attention to them bringing them to their home inadvertently.”

Gilger said young children sometimes think the toys are candy, and older children and teens use the toys to mimic piercings.

Doctors have said "the injury pattern they are seeing in hospitals (after ingestion) is like a gunshot wound to the gut with no sign of entry or exit," Wolfson said.

Frank last month defended Maxfield and Oberton's efforts to keep the toys away from children, and the company said in a statement it does not sell its products to children and has a strict policy of not selling to stores that do sell toys exclusively to kids.

The statement also noted the company’s efforts to educate its customers, including an informational safety website it developed.  The company said it has strongly advocated for a public education campaign sponsored by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, as the commission has done with other products that posed risks to children.

Zen Magnets acknowledged in a Reddit posting Thursday that "the magnet fight is probably lost."

With Buckyballs' demise, "This makes Zen the last magnet sphere company standing in the US for now," the post says. "We'll keep fighting as long as we can."

Zen Magnets was the first company to receive an administrative complaint from the Consumer Product Safety Commission without a record of injuries, as the company has had no ingestions of its products, said founder Shihan Qu.

"We've always sold online, where it's not easy for kids to buy anyway," he said.


soundoff (331 Responses)
  1. Herb

    Seriously?
    SERIOUSLY?!

    November 2, 2012 at 11:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jesus

      dumb parents = dumb kids that try to eat everything.

      November 2, 2012 at 12:54 | Report abuse |
    • Liza in Ottawa

      And they are going to discontinue the manufacturing of handguns next?? What a joke. Perhaps drive-thru joints should stop serving HOT coffee so idiot customers don't burn themselves with it, too.

      November 2, 2012 at 13:04 | Report abuse |
    • pallidin

      I place partial blame on the insurance companies with desiring ever increasing profits.
      You see, they try to wrap us up in a protective bubble, yet still charge outrageous premiums.

      November 2, 2012 at 13:18 | Report abuse |
  2. Herb

    Apparently parenting isn't a thing anymore.

    November 2, 2012 at 11:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sajhaeb

      Although I agree that the parents are responsible. Buckyballs isn't innocent either. Unlike Zen Magnets, they refer to their product as "toys" for "adults", and sold at places like brookstone and urban outfitters, on shelves next to other puzzles in reach of children.

      November 2, 2012 at 12:37 | Report abuse |
    • ron

      I never ATE my toys, when I was a kid.

      November 2, 2012 at 12:45 | Report abuse |
    • jesus

      @ron, right!? me either. i think these kids are dumb or something.. gotta make the world safe for the idiots.

      November 2, 2012 at 12:55 | Report abuse |
    • JOHN

      LAWYERS,LAWYERS,LAWYERS...THEY MAKE THE WORST PRESIDENTS ALSO.

      November 2, 2012 at 13:05 | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      As George Carlin said, "Whatever happened to natural selection; survival of the fittest? The kid who swallowed too many marbles doesn't grow up to have kids of his own."

      November 2, 2012 at 13:41 | Report abuse |
  3. Herb

    This should not have happened. KEEP THEM AWAY FROM YOUR CHILDREN!

    November 2, 2012 at 12:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dave

      You're talking about the lawyers, right?

      November 2, 2012 at 13:31 | Report abuse |
  4. Zebula

    Wow. Just wow. I've seen articles about 7 year olds getting into cars and driving them and wrecking. Should be ban the sale of all cars, too? It's the parents' responsibility to keep kids away from things that could harm them. This is ludicrous.

    November 2, 2012 at 12:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. ser

    gotta love the lefties that take no responsibility

    November 2, 2012 at 12:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Pointingouttheilly

      gotta love those cons who take no responsibility. Just as silly as your post. Go back to bed Troll.

      November 2, 2012 at 12:13 | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Lol it is the truth! It is always someone else's fault. Oops bought a house I can't afford, its the fault of the evil mortgage banker who held a gun to my head and made me buy it. Government lent me thousands to pursue a worthless degree, it is the fault of the evil businesses for not employing more art history majors. Uh oh, my kid swallowed a bunch of metal balls because I was too stupid or lazy to take responsibility for them, its all the fault of the company who made. They should have made their little metal balls big enough you can't fit them in a human mouth!!!

      November 2, 2012 at 12:26 | Report abuse |
    • Sajhaeb

      Please, this has nothing to do with left or right.

      November 2, 2012 at 12:38 | Report abuse |
    • DrSmith

      Ser....you mean like the Republicans who started two unnecessary wars and gave hundreds of billions of dollars of tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires, and then left the next president to pick up the tab? Then attacked him for not paying it off in four years, when the Republican led House wouldn't let him pass any of the legislation that would attempt to fix it? Look in the mirror my friend (and watch Fox News for even five minutes), and you'll realize the conservatives are the kings of the "it's somebody else's fault" game.

      November 2, 2012 at 12:45 | Report abuse |
    • MrBo

      Do you have proof that the only children that have been affected are those of "lefties?"

      I bet you don't.

      I'm a a"lefty" and I think banning this is ridiculous.

      November 2, 2012 at 12:51 | Report abuse |
    • jesus

      small minded peasants. politics is a shell game.

      November 2, 2012 at 12:56 | Report abuse |
    • LarryB

      DrSmith, you make way too much sense. No one wants to hear facts, so take your truthful comments elsewhere! This is a blog, for Pete's sake – you're supposed to make up stuff as you go.

      November 2, 2012 at 12:58 | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      DrSmith has been reading his mantra... problem is it only makes sense to people with no common sense. The real problem is the extremist don't have time to evaluate the falsehoods from the facts, and there are way too many extremist on both sides. Do your home work and join me in the middle, where common sense lives!

      November 2, 2012 at 13:49 | Report abuse |
    • really

      Yep, and since we are into generalizing, How many children are killed or injured every year by conservatives that take no responsibility for their firearms? Hint, it is a LOT more than are injured by Buckyballs.

      November 2, 2012 at 19:59 | Report abuse |
  6. Aaron

    Stupid parents give them to stupid kids who eat them and then hire stupid lawyers to defend their stupidity.

    November 2, 2012 at 12:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • john

      Totally stupid remark .... but right on ....

      November 2, 2012 at 12:24 | Report abuse |
    • bikermike

      Couldn't have said it more eloquently myself! 'Personal responsibility', particularly when it comes to parenting, is becoming a foreign concept in this country.

      November 2, 2012 at 12:27 | Report abuse |
  7. Austin

    "Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it." -Mark Twain

    November 2, 2012 at 12:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kurtinco

      Though the quote is misattributed to Twain, the sentiment is the same. I mean, jeez. How many kids have put saftey pins in their mouths over the years? Do we demand they stop making them?

      November 2, 2012 at 12:21 | Report abuse |
    • LarryB

      "You can get the masses to spread around the Internet any old saying you come up with, as long as you misattribute it to a well-known and respected person." – Benjamin Franklin

      November 2, 2012 at 13:03 | Report abuse |
  8. jimmy

    I bought a gas powered RC helicopter. My kid thought it looked cool, started it and lost both hands in the rotors. Now I am mad. All RC toys with moving parts should immediately be banned !!

    November 2, 2012 at 12:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Ed

    I fondling my buckyballs right now!

    I hope I don't loose my balls since they can never be replaced.

    November 2, 2012 at 12:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Xenopath

    We don't need children that swallow metal spheres.

    November 2, 2012 at 12:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. R1D2E1

    "The group released the results of a new survey of more than 1,700 doctors, who reported at least 480 toy magnet ingestions in the past decade, with 204 occurring in the past year."

    Really CPSC? You might as well try to get kitchen knives, swimming pools, and vehicles out of consumers' hands too...They're more dangerous...This is so dumb.

    November 2, 2012 at 12:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ahayes

      Hi R1D2E1, the survey was released by the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, not the CPSC. But thanks for your comment. Ashley Hayes, CNN

      November 2, 2012 at 12:23 | Report abuse |
  12. jimmy

    Perhaps the solution is to administer IQ tests to all citizens. If all 'retards' were sterilized, over time self inflicted injuries due to stupidly would all but disappear.

    November 2, 2012 at 12:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Know It All

      That was tried in the 20's and 30's. Didn't work. We still have stupid people.

      November 2, 2012 at 12:20 | Report abuse |
    • cmorcat

      That was a stupid thing to say. Get in line, you're first.

      November 2, 2012 at 12:44 | Report abuse |
    • jesus

      hmmm, good thinking. Hitler had the same idea.

      lets just kill away all our problems because we are too dumb to figure them out.

      November 2, 2012 at 12:58 | Report abuse |
  13. Dean

    The people who make fish tank pebbles and styrofoam peanuts should be next. Then we can go after, well, everything else that children could possible swallow. Speaking of that, anyone know when we'll go after those dastardly peas and baby carrots because of the choking hazzard they represent? Oh, and Herb, yes, seriously.........

    November 2, 2012 at 12:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Wow

    Watch then go ballistic on ebay.

    November 2, 2012 at 12:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sajhaeb

      Unfortunately they've been banned on eBay too. Just try and search for them. "Magnet Spheres", "Neocube", "Zen Magnets", "Buckyballs",

      November 2, 2012 at 12:40 | Report abuse |
  15. Rob

    I love how when people don't have the ability to take care of (and watch) the children they chose to have, the rest of us have to suffer. This is a "toy" for adults. If you can't keep your children away from them, maybe you shouldn't have children. I'm tired of having to pay the price of people that can't raise their children.

    November 2, 2012 at 12:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Gray

    It's called Darwinism. Stupid people, including children, kill themselves so they cannot pollute the genetic "ether" and weaken the collective chance for survival. Unfortunately, we are preventing that and will soon live in a world full of snookies and honey booboos.

    November 2, 2012 at 12:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Steve

      Yup, and we're actually rewarding them with millions of dollars so they can have more stupid kids and help sue and shut down more businesses. They should be hung for their anti-American actions!

      November 2, 2012 at 12:21 | Report abuse |
  17. Steve

    Don't worry public about educating your own children about not eating metallic balls, its the government's job to do this for you and keep you children safe from your stupidity and neglectful parenting.

    November 2, 2012 at 12:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Know It All

    What ever happened to common sense and personal responsibility? The ever growing nanny state rears it's ugly head again!

    November 2, 2012 at 12:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Steve

      It's easier to let someone else think for you. I forgot how to wipe and am waiting for a government program to be created.

      November 2, 2012 at 12:22 | Report abuse |
  19. humtake

    I can remember when I was 6 or 7, I was eating a piece of butterscotch candy that went down my windpipe and I was given the Heimlich and had passed out for a few seconds. Last time I remember looking, butterscotch is still for sale. There are SO many items for sale that are the size of these things and could be choking hazards...and as in my example some of those things are GIVEN to kids. This is just an example of a company trying to get approval of their existence and relevance so they come up with nonsense court cases that just cost taxpayers money.

    November 2, 2012 at 12:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chris

      I don't disagree with your post – personally responsibility and such. Just thought i'd point out the danger isn't a choking hazard, but rather the problem of ingesting magnets which can lodge themselves dangerously especially if ingested with other magnets metals etc.

      November 2, 2012 at 12:50 | Report abuse |
  20. mlr

    Just another reason why we need to limit the power of the Feds. This is absolutely stupid. So what next – ban magnets altogether? What about those alphabet letters with magnets on them... get rid of them! What about those magnets in the hw dept to help pick up nails... get rid of them too! STUPID STUPID STUPID! Sue the idiot parents who don't supervise their kids and buy something without reading the label! Now let's talk Lego and Crayons and all the surgies I know that have happened to remove those from tummies, intestines and noses! Let's get rid of everything in the stores that can be swallowed or pushed into an orafice of any kind just to make sure the kids don't get their hands on them!

    November 2, 2012 at 12:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. peter

    Apparently, rather than properly protecting your children from something, they should just get the company to stop making it. Yea, that makes a lot of sense.....

    November 2, 2012 at 12:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Spidey-Man

    Disapointing. But not really too surprising. What do you expect when you live in a country where you can smoke a cigarette and then sue the cigarette company because you got sick from smoking it? And WIN!

    November 2, 2012 at 12:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Joe Mama

    The federal government is our parent. It's utopia. We get to be provided for, protected, told what to do, and educated by the best and the brightest elite of the human race.

    November 2, 2012 at 12:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Edward C.

      The only thing they don't do for me is wipe my a$$. If I am getting the infant treatment, shouldn't I get the premier package?

      November 2, 2012 at 12:23 | Report abuse |
  24. Steve

    So why are BBs legal???? You can walk into any sporting good store and get them. Are idiot parents suing over those to? You have to wonder if some parents get their kids to eat this crap on purpose, so they can then launch a bunch of lawsuits.

    I can think of lots of little things that would fall into that category. It doesn't make sense why they would pick on a product that you almost only ever see in an office.

    November 2, 2012 at 12:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. ChiTownArt

    Time to teach your dum^$%# kids that the magets aren't food.

    November 2, 2012 at 12:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. gager

    The government destroys jobs and business.

    November 2, 2012 at 12:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Milton Platt

    So kids swallowed these because the adults ignored the warning labels??? Where is the parental accountability???

    You can't ban every non food thing a kid can get into his mouth.

    November 2, 2012 at 12:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Me

      "where is the parental accountability?" HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA........it's a lot like unicorn hunting.

      November 2, 2012 at 13:08 | Report abuse |
  28. Edward C.

    Gotta love it when the government has to step in to "protect" us!

    November 2, 2012 at 12:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Pliny

    Sew the kid's mouths shut.

    November 2, 2012 at 12:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Andrew

    We better discontinue bathroom cleaners, pet ownershpi, selling motor oil, silverware, toothbrushes.....

    November 2, 2012 at 12:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Marty

    People in this country just refuse to take responsibility for their actions. The parents should be more careful that these don't fall into kids hands. I mean, after, all if you give a chimp a gun and the chimp shoots someone, you don't blame the chimp.

    November 2, 2012 at 12:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Steve

      Liberals would blame the gun manufacturer.

      November 2, 2012 at 12:28 | Report abuse |
  32. J

    Another reason why this country is going to end up like Europe... so sad.

    November 2, 2012 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Freaky Weasel

      You mean the Europe where I can walk into any corner store and buy Kinder Eggs?

      November 2, 2012 at 12:45 | Report abuse |
  33. Crispin Prebys

    Maybe its cold (and I am a father) but this just sounds like natural selection at work. Go Darwin!

    Lawyers don't understand this kind of thing because they are a man made problem.

    Only a conservative could see this an issue from the left... stupid is stupid right or left. Surely conservatives should understand stupid.

    November 2, 2012 at 12:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. RonnieG

    My girl-friend just loves to play with my bucky balls

    November 2, 2012 at 12:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Rick

    I call B.S. This company is bankrupt and using this as an excuse. They were failing and going out of business anyway. Fact.

    November 2, 2012 at 12:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. RonnieG

    Decision makers at the Consumer Product Safety Commission should be force fed bucky balls and made to dirty dance

    November 2, 2012 at 12:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. RobK

    Liberals are going to force their views on America, one way or the other. Watch out soda pop and hamburgers. You're next.

    November 2, 2012 at 12:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Ben

    It's time to take back control of this country from the lawyers. This was a VERY clearly labeled product with overwhelming public support (based on the comments posted here) – what right does the court system have to take it away? Throw out these ridiculous lawsuits and fine the people who waste the court's time by bringing them. The courts have no right to punish the general public because a few people are idiots.

    November 2, 2012 at 12:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Tim

    Ridiculous. How marbles do you think have been swallowed? And those are actually marketed to kids.

    November 2, 2012 at 12:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. East Campus Ave

    Relying on people to read was the first error. Too bad. Too much government.

    November 2, 2012 at 12:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. BuckUpUS

    I got me a pair.
    I mean a set.
    To play with.

    November 2, 2012 at 12:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Responsible-parent

    The US is still the only country where Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs ("Ue-Ei", with little toys or figures inside) get confiscated at the border (the ban is about 80 years old). How come countries like Canada or Germany don't have these issues? I don't think they have smarter kids, or do they?
    As an afterthought: maybe the manufacturer could just have used weaker magnets? How strong does a magnet have to be to pierce intestines?

    November 2, 2012 at 12:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Wing

      The strength of these magnets is why people bought buckyballs in the first place. Out of all the dangerous things in the world that children can swallow I can't believe we are going to put a BAN on small magnets.
      DUMB.

      November 2, 2012 at 12:59 | Report abuse |
  43. CA Liberal

    Kids under 2 will put anything and everything in their mouth. Poisonous, dangerous whatever. Keeping bad stuff out of their mouths is a full time job. I came home from work one day to find my 1 yr old boy happily munching down on an ashtray full of butts. With a big smile on his ash smeared face. I mean anything.

    November 2, 2012 at 12:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • just_wondering

      I just have to ask – if you are so concerned about the childs safety, why in the heck are you letting ANYONE smoke around a 1-year old?

      November 2, 2012 at 13:02 | Report abuse |
  44. inkhogneato

    Really? REALLY? Whatever happened to personal responsibility? This awesomeness gets shuffled off into oblivion because of bad bad parenting? To all those parents whose kids needed surgery for eating magnets, you should be ashamed of yourselves.

    November 2, 2012 at 12:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Lou Cypher

    We all agreed to wholesale-trade freedom for safety, and the govt is going to enforce that.

    November 2, 2012 at 12:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Anchorite

    Apparently parents are incapable of keeping their children away from their own adult "toys" so they have ruined it for all of us. This is an expensive toy. It's not as if it's just lying around. Don't take your kids to the office and let them play with your stapler and buckyballs to keep them occupied.

    November 2, 2012 at 13:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Disgusted

    What about guns? I would have to say more children are seriously injured and killed by legally owned guns in their own homes. I think this is a bigger issue than a "toy" that was ingested. No-one takes responsibility for their actions and are sooo quick to blame someone else for their lack of supervision or parenting skills. We all pay the price for someone that is out for a quick buck.

    November 2, 2012 at 13:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. triphaxard

    Just rename them to Darwin balls and remarket them. Let nature take it's course

    November 2, 2012 at 13:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Badly-Bent

    I don't see how these "buckeyballs" expand?

    November 2, 2012 at 13:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. zebu44

    I didn't notice in the article if being magnetic is an issue or is it just because it's round and relatively small. I guess marbles, Ball and Jacks (if they still make them) and any board game with small game pieces will be asked to be removed from the toy store shelves. I'll start picking up any small stones in my yard as a proactive measure against being sued.

    November 2, 2012 at 13:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dr. majesto

      The issue at hand is that the balls ARE magnetic. When more than one is swallowed..... well… I believe magnets attract. If these balls are swallowed at different times then the balls with find each other sooner or later. Attach to each other inside of the intestines and or stomach. This causes the intestines blood supply between the two balls to be cut off, causing necrosis and a hole in the intestine and or stomach. …. But the parents or the teenager are to blame ultimately. Not the company for making this ADULT product.

      November 2, 2012 at 16:26 | Report abuse |
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