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.
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The internet should be closed down because minors are being abducted by predators.
I know, right? LOL
I agree with you 100% – This is another example of Bad Parenting by a few that results in the suffering of rest of us (presumably good parents). Sure its arguable that "no buckeyballs" is suffering... but have you played with these things people ? They are AWESOME. I hope those who are responsible for this really know what they have done.
We should also ban straws (they can poke the back of your throat or your eye), shoelaces (tripping hazard), thumbtacks (risk of bleeding), sand (can damage your cornea) and doors (can crush your finger)..
REALLY PEOPLE ????
I think the toy should be banned on the basis of the name alone. Whoever thought up the name Buckyballs has a filthy mind!
I'm glad they will no longer be sold if only for the safety of Republicans and Tea Party "patriots."
I had Buckyballs on my desk at work, but I had to remove them because my Republican co-workers kept trying to put them in their mouths. I should have known not to put balls anywhere near people in the Tea Party.
When I had Buckyballs, my doctor gave me a special cream to control the itching.
Frank, tell me you aren't that ignorant, or the one with the filty mind. Buckyballs are named after the chemical structures, also nicknamed buckyballs. This is short for Buckminsterfullerene named for (mostly carbon) sperical structures which are similar in form to polyhedral, geodesic domes that were first designed by Buckminster Fuller. Nothing improper at all about the name buckyballs.
Go to bed Frank.
What a bunch of loser parents!!!! Those bukyballs are cool and I had them before my 7 year old turned 2 and he never even had the opportunity to swallow them because I know how to read and I also don't carelessly just give anything to my kid to play with; if it's new and I didn't play with it when I was a kid then I need to research it before I let my kid play with it. Obama, a lawyer, will just make things worse and crazier. I don't need anyone to tell me how to run my life, all I need is the opportunity to go to school so I can learn how to take care of myself all by myself!!!!
Obama's a lawyer!? Who sends a lawyer to negotiate with a bunch of...... oh, LAWMAKERS
Oh you're just so perfect. Such a paragon of parenting (vomit).
Obama's a lawyer. What has that got to do with this story? Romney is a lawyer too.
Stoves should be removed from homes because children are getting burned.
People also do stupid things with cars, or alocohol or a whole host of different available products. Should we ban everything to protect the stupid from their own stupidity ??
The parents should go to jail.
Let's bring back lawn darts? Stupid people.
Socialism at it's finest.
This has nothing to do with socialism. You latch onto one word and just won't led go. Socialism is what makes you life bearable. We all share in the benefits of government does: roads, hospitals, police and fire protection, food inspection, minimum standards for constructions safety, etc., etc., etc. Are there some silly laws? Yes. Are there plenty of cases where people should take some responsibility and use common sense to protect themselves? Yes. But to label all endeavors to improve the lives of everyone, to strive for a common good as socialism is myopic at best and down right ignorant, at worst.
You should look up socialism and find out what it means. This isn't it. This has nothing to do with socialism. Selling or not selling toy magnets, has nothing to do with socialism. Suing the maker of toy magnets when you feed them to your kid, has nothing to do with socialism.
@ SF . I have only used the word socialism 1 time on this board.I don't like you accusing me or anyone labeling all endeavors to improve the lives as socialism. I did not say that....you did!
Government control is a form socialism.
Get over yourself or at least read the definition of socialism.
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
It's funny because you don't use the word correctly. And by doing so you encourage the stereotype that people who use it in a negative way are fools.
This is absurd! Prime for a Darwin award!
People should not be allowed to purchase kitchen knives because they could hurt or kill children.
Sadly this has been proposed in the UK. Emergency room doctors want to ban large kitchen knives due to the number of stab wounds they see... They've even enlisted the expertise of the top 10 chefs, in the UK, who agree that the average person doesn't need large chef knives at home. Once you invite the "Nanny State" into your life its all down hill from there.
What's next, Ben-wah balls? Democrats, humph.
"Just think of it as passive eugenics: the kid who swallows too many marbles doesn't grow up to have kids of his own."
Of course our wonderful nanny-state has yet to do anything about the thousands of children that are abused (often murdered) by their parents or caregivers.
Consumer Product Safety Commission–what a bunch of moronic hypocrites.
They may go overboard sometimes, but if they weren't around, your kids would be sucking on lead-painted toys, or toys made of or filled with other toxic materials, or pajamas that burn like flash paper, or sippee cups with bisphenol-A (they've largely covered that one), etc,etc,etc.
If you outlaw toys, only outlaws will have toys.
But why haven't they outlawed pencils and scissors? We all know what happens when you run with them.
Too many kids are hurt or killed on bicycles. The Product Safety Commission needs to do something about them.
This is ridiculous. What's next? Are all magnets going to be made illegal?
How about a little responsibility on the parts of the parents?
If these kinds of things continue, I foresee a very safe and very boring future where anything that could ever theoretically be dangerous will be outlawed. And guess what? That is every single thing in the world.
Do you remember metal playground slides on playgrounds that had asphalt paving? Do you remember toy trucks made of metal that had sharp edges? Do you remember when people understood that hot coffee spilled on the lap would hurt? Requiring clear labeling is fine–it's information. Banning products because people refuse to use that information is not fine. Life is tough and bad things happen. Not everything bad is someone else's fault. Government should not be there to think for you. We need to return to a culture of personal responsibility and accountability. Want to smoke? Ride a motorcycle with no helmet? Fine! Just pay the insurance surcharge to cover the future costs of your medical care!
Lets ban everything and have a government official tell everybody what they can buy or use.
Read the short story "Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut. How soon before we have a hanicapper general by the name Diana Moon Glampers to make sure everyone is equal by handicapping the more capable ??
They're just trying to justify there existence.
The government's job is to save us from ourselves, while making congress and lawyers rich.
here is the reality ... when your product sucks so bad it sent children to the hospital ,. the good thing to do is to deign something new that doesn't ... I am glad that they finally decided sending children into the operating room isn't a smart way to build corporate reputation
It's a good thing for you that they did not ban "hooked on phonics."
This is a product that is not meant for children to play with. It's not marketed to children, and is clearly labeled as such. How can you blame the product if it's the parents who are the ones not doing their jobs.
Besides, there are tons of household objects that when misused can be harmful, would you ban everything that might harm someone? Pencils? Marbles? kitchen knives?
not really .. but the reality is that these toys ends up in the stomach of children and because of the magnetic properties they cause lethal damages if not surgically removed ... result: make less dangerous toys
The product is marketed to adults and covered with warning labels. If you are stupid enough to let your kids get their hands on them, then ER visits are inevitable. But not because of Buckyballs, but because you're an idiot.
just wait til;l your kid has ingested one, despite all of your super brain, then yo will say, oh perhaps he was right
Don't feed your kids peas!!!!!!! Some kids stick them in the ears and noses causing them to not be able to smell, breathe, and/or hear well.
Don't let your kids ride bicycles. The bicycles cannot remain upright on their own, thus exposing the children to possible falls resulting in an impact with the earth. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!
never said that .. know the difference between possible lethal danger and things one can manage by learning skills.
There is no need to play with magnets ... it's really immature and stupid
Excuse me, I'm a Liberal Democrat and this is absurd. You will never be able to regulate or legislate STUPID parents because there are TOO MANY OF THEM ! I mourn the loss of Buckyballs and feel that the constant harassment this company has endured is ridiculous . That's just what we need ....harass business when we really need to do is STIMULATE business !
Why didn't the CPSC just get Maxfield and Oberton to sgrre to cover all medical expenses incurred during such incidents? (And make them pay an additional $10K punishment fine to each child?)
YAY! A win for stupid parents who probably shouldn't be breeding in the first place.
Like medicines, smoking, and alcohol, this is an adult toy and not for a child. To see it discontinued is heart breaking.
And WHAT'S NEXT? Let's not advertise alcohol on the Cartoon Network because it's "bad" for kids? Let's remove cigarettes from junior high school vending machines because it's "dangerous" to tweens? Let's just stop selling guns to juniors because a few might get hurt? COME ON! Hands off our rights!!!
Close this commision down! They are as stupid as the parents that let their children play with things they should not be playing with.
Ban everything from China. You never know when there will be lead in the paint or chemicals in food.
When will parents take responsibility for raising children? When i was bad, i got my ass beat. i was TAUGHT right from wrong. Whats good and whats not. My parents never had to worry i would swallow something i should not be messing with.
I agree, what is wrong with these parents? I know if my parents had caught me eating magnets they wouldn't have sued the company that made them, I would have been the one in trouble!
What about chopsticks...if they go in through your nose and into your brain, you die...same is true for pencils...
My children could not do their homework because I was afraid they would poke their eyes out with the pencils...HA!
Lets just make having babies illegal. -Life is too dangerous for children and its not a good idea to bring them into this unsafe planet. -It should also be mandated that people must stay inside at all times and do absolutely nothing -Just in case.
Thank god I was born and grew up in a time where people weren't absolutely crazy. Its amazing how I was able able to survive as a child without these sue happy nuts around to "protect" us.
This seems to make more sense than banning buckyballs or zen magnets.
Since kids are in to this "pharming" we should ban all drugs.
I'm sorry, but IF your child is not intelligent enough to not ingest or do things that puts themselves overly in harms way, maybe that's the universe's and nature's way of saying this one is not beefing up the gene pool. Same as if your child likes to eat paint chips, maybe they just aren't meant to be. If your child likes to chase and dodge cars, maybe they just aren't meant to be. I understand childhood comes with an invariable amount of risks, but we honestly need to let some be weeded out, it's not cold, bitter or amoral. It's objectively taking natural selection out to it's logical conclusion. You do something overly dumb, "hey it was a good run but sorry you don't get to pass go." Now are there products out there that are overly harmful regardless, yes, but to do this over a dozen children who can't stop putting things in their mouths........ all I can ask is, "really?"
I saw a televised interview with parents whose kid had injected buckyballs and had to have surgery to get them removed. During the interview they showed some buckyballs to demonstrate. Then they set the sample buckyballs on the table, and guess what happened? The small child picked them up and tried to put them in her mouth. Was this a problem with the magnets? No. The parents put the magnets down where their child could put them in her mouth. This child had put everything she could reach in her mouth during the time she was on camera. It was no surprise she put the magnets in her mouth. Not to anyone except her parents.
I have Buckey balls here at my desk at work. People are constantly stopping by and rearranging them and playing with them. I'm not worried about anyone here swallowing them except maybe our CEO, and that may not be all that bad a thing.
This is why we can't have nice things
Now let's sue the pencil companies because fool kids can so easily stick them in their eyes and there isn't enough labeling on the packaging saying "Do not stick pencils in your eyes."
This is a travesty.
Good thing kids don't shoot themselves with their parents guns or the CPSC would have to ban them also...
Everything is hazardous to children if there is no supervision from responsible parent(s). This is one more reason to keep our government small and efficient.
Actually everything is not hazardous to children and most that look hazardous parents have the common sense to keep them away from their children. Unfortunately these small balls look very benign and some of them are lost during their manipulation.
Ridiclous! I have a 5 year old and a 4 year old. They've played with these for over a year without losing one, and never having put one near their mouth. When I told them that they were going to stop making them, and why, their immediate response that it would be just stupid to put a magnet in your mouth.
My kids do a lot of crazy things, we've been to the emergency room to prove it, but knowing what's dangerous and what's not is basic intelligence and parental responsibility. Fire, sharp objects, heights – these are all things that our kids need to know how to handle and what not to do. If you can't get them to understand that with a couple of magnetic balls then you might as well begin padding your walls and finding them a home-based career choice!
You are a dangerous and irresponsible parent making excuses for your incompetence and failure to protect your children. Don't be so quick to dis your child's suffering in the ER because of your faulty oversight. Were you too busy stuffing your face with hot wings and watching game shows on TV to watch your kids properly? My insurance rates go up when your poor kids are injured through your indifference. You're putting your kids square in the sights of natural selection.
Yes I am sure you counted all 216 after eah time you and your kids played with them
The first thing President Romney should do is to fire this entire useless department.
But of course, he will only do a bunch of other useless stuff instead of something actually useful.
Nobody is willing to accept accountability anymore...
You know what should be banned...stupid idiot parents who don't have the good sense to monitor their childrent and not let them play with an adult toy. So let's penalize everyone because of these idiots who can't take responsibility for their own actions. Think of the children! Geez...when did our society become so stupid?
What the buck?
Lawn Jarts! Tell them you will sell Lawn Jarts instead of magnets. These guys sound just like republicans, wanting to control every aspect of your personal life. Can't tell the democrats from the republicans anymore..............
I used to sell these to people, hope I didn't kill anybody.
I had Buckyballs on my desk at work, but I had to remove them because my Republican co-workers kept trying to put them in their mouths. I should have known not to put balls anywhere near people in the Tea Party.
More examples of the government overstepping their boundaries. You can’t take a crap these days without applying for a permit and running it past a bureaucracy first.
What about of loser Parents. Shouldn't parents watch their children better? Where is the parents responsibility in all of this.
not a product worth keeping around when most 3 yr olds can open doors, climb and figure out how to release them so called safety clips on cabinets. If you have kids around and own one of these your dumb as hel. One short moment not paying attention (which WILL happen) and the potential to have to have a kids guts tore open goes skyrocket just because of a dumb az magnet. I'm not into these kinds of laws, but just the fact people keep them around while at the same time they blame others for not controlling their, most likely houdini like kids for getting into these things is testament to why these laws end up going in to effect.
If you know anything about science the toy is named after molecules called Buckey Balls that are named after Buckminster Fuller.
But hey, that HFCS is completely safe!
So... kids choke on things because parents aren't paying attention, putting things out of reach or simply educating their children to not put things in their mouths... Buckyballs are being discontinued?
We are breeding and fostering ignorance, people. We should discontinue stupid people from having children.