Public interest research group lists toys it considers unsafe

Engineer Mickey's Wind Up Train might look like a tempting Christmas toy to buy your youngster. But the people at the Maryland Public Interest Research Group (MaryPIRG) say the three-piece Disney push toy could be trouble.

The reason: According to MaryPIRG, the train's front wheels contain two rubber traction pieces that are choke hazards to small children.


The Wind Up Train and the Oscar the Grouch Don't Kick the Can were among 21 toys sold nationwide that were deemed unsafe by a report of the Public Interest Research Group, to which MaryPIRG belongs.

The toys were displayed at a news conference this morning at the Johns Hopkins Hospital Children's Center.


"These most certainly are not all of the unsafe toys on the shelves, and they are not the most dangerous," said Daniel Pontious, executive director of MaryPIRG. "But they are representative of what is out there in toy stores right now."

The report concedes that several of the toys listed in "Trouble in Toyland," such as the Oscar the Grouch toy, met safety standards established by the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission.

But it says CPSC regulations should be tougher, maintaining that young children still could choke on pieces of toys mentioned in the report.

"The CPSC has abdicated the responsibility by failing to improve the toy safety laws and by failing to enforce the current laws," the report says.

Mr. Pontious says a number of toys were pulled from shelves after the publication of previous surveys. And he senses a slight improvement in the attitudes of toy makers.

"My impression that the number of toys that just blatantly disregard or violate the CPSC standard for children under 3 is decreasing, in large part because they get publicized," he said.

"But a number of toys just barely comply with basic regulations that still pose a threat to young children."

Copies of the PIRG report are available for $10 from U.S. PIRG, 215 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, Washington, D.C. 20003.