A number of high-profile retailers have decided to team up with federal officials in an effort to remove Buckyball and Buckycube magnet sets from the market.
On April 12, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced that a Buckyball and Buckycube recall has been issued by the following retailers:
- Barnes & Noble
- Bed Bath & Beyond
- Marbles the Brain Store
The action is the latest salvo in an ongoing battle between the CPSC and Maxfield & Oberton over the high-powered magnet sets, which the CPSC say pose a serious health risk for children. If the small magnetic balls or cubes are accidentally swallowed, they can attract across the intestinal walls inside the body, causing blockages, tears and other potentially life-threatening injuries.
The recalled magnet sets consist of a large number of small magnets, also known as rare earth magnets, which are sold in a variety of colors. The individual magnets are about 5 millimeters in diameter and can be formed into various shapes and designs. Buckyball magnets are spheres, while Buckycube magnets are cubes.
The CPSC estimates that about three million Buckyball and BuckyCube sets have been sold in the U.S. since 2010.
Consumers who purchased the magnet from the retailers participating in the recall can contact the company by phone or through their websites to arrange to return the magnet sets. Participating retailers are offering various remedies to those returning the magnet sets. A complete list of retailer contact information is listed in the CPSC recall notice.
The CPSC filed an administrative complaint against Maxfield & Oberton in July to force the company to issue a recall, which the agency says the company had refused to do when requested. The company finally announced it would stop marketing the toys in November, but did not issue a recall, instead saying it planned to sell off all of the remaining stock.
Prior to ending their fight to keep Buckyballs and Buckycubes on the market, the manufacturer has been attempting to capitalize on the regulatory dispute with the CPSC, creating a line of T-shirts and other products that highlight the company’s struggle to prevent the toys from being recalled.
CPSC Targeting All Similar Toy Magnet Sets
The CPSC is trying to get all magnet ball sets, generally sold as office desk toys, off the market.
The regulatory move comes after numerous reports of these magnets causing severe internal injuries to children and teens when two or more are swallowed, which can occur while attempting to simulate a tongue or cheek piercing. The magnets can pose cause serious health problems if swallowed, often requiring surgery to remove them.
According to a recent report on the magentic ball safety concerns, an estimated 1,700 incidents involving children or teens swallowing the magnets have occurred since January 2009. The CPSC reports that it has received 54 reports of children and teens swallowing Buckyball or Buckycube magnets, with 53 of those cases requiring medical intervention.
Despite efforts to place strong warning labels on the products, researchers found that the warning labels had no effect on making the products any safer for children, or stemming the tide of youths sent to emergency rooms; some of whom had sections of their bowels removed and face permanent digestive problems.