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Jerry Storch, Toys 'R' Us executive, was smiling--before he heard that a line of popular toys carried by his store contained a GHB producing metabolite.  (Source: Associated Press)
Looks like Toys R Us is in for a particularly interesting recall this time.

When parents plan on taking a trip to Toys 'R' Us with their children, this probably wasn't what they had in mind.  Toys 'R' Us just announced an alarming recall of its line of Bindeez, beads that are heated and pressed together to form toys and scenery, after it was revealed that they contained chemicals that when metabolized turned into gamma hydroxy butyrate.

Gamma hydroxy butyrate (GHB) is commonly known as the "date-rape drug" or Liquid Ecstasy.  It produces feelings of euphoria, increased libido, increased enjoyment of motion and sound, increased sociability, and intoxication.  With increasingly high doses, it can induce comas, seizures, drowsiness and death.

Bindeez carried by Toys 'R' Us and other retailers are produced by Moose Enterprises.  Worldwide the Bindeez, and their companion toy Aqua Dots are distributed in 40 countries.  The toys are produced in a factory in Shenzhen in China's southern Guangdong province.

The toys are sprayed with a chemical coating.  The so-called "Magic Beads" release the chemicals, when ingested, and these chemicals are metabolized into GHB.  Many manmade and naturally occurring compounds look harmless enough, but release toxic substances when ingested, such as the outer peelings of the Cassava root which when metabolized release cyanide.  Similarly, the chemical sprayed on looked innocent, until it was chemically altered upon ingestion.

Unlike some more proactive recalls, this one follows real medical cases of children becoming deathly ill.  In the U.S., two children who swallowed Aqua Dot Beads went into comas.  In Australia, three children already have been hospitalized--a two year old, a 10 year old, and a 19-month old.

Ironically, Aqua Dots were among the best selling toys of the holiday season, so far and were on many experts list of "hot" or "must-have" toys.  Toy sales in general have been slow but Aqua Dots were doing great ... which may not be a good thing.

Moose Enterprises is refusing to recall the toys internationally and will only announce recalls if a country or particular distributor requests it to, despite the child casualties. 

The company has posted a message about its recall in Australia, the other country in which recalls are currently occurring.

Ironically, the recall came right after news in which Toys 'R' Us CEO Jerry Storch had announced in an interview with, "With all the testing and the scrutiny that's been done this year, we believe this will be the safest holiday season ever."

While China's internet market flourishes, with companies such as Alibaba hitting new highs, its manufacturing industry flounders amid hundreds of recalls of toxic products.  Millions of children’s’ toys -- 19.8 million in August 2007 alone -- have been recalled from U.S. retailers, as chronicled by DailyTech, due to containing toxic levels of lead paint, or magnetic choking hazards.  Recently, Chinese cancer drugs have also been recalled following news that they were tainted with toxins.

These failures prompted the Chinese government to make a harsh statement in July when the government executed the country's former top drug regulator after he was found guilty in taking millions of dollars in bribes to approve tainted and low quality products; including antibiotics that killed at least 10 people.

Unfortunately, the message seems to have been lost on the Chinese manufacturers as quality continues to reach new strange and alarming lows.

With major risk of poisoning, anyone who purchased either Bindeez or Aqua Dots should try to return them.  It looks like some of the presents under the Christmas tree are about to disappear.

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RE: It's a good thing Lego is made in Europe
By TomZ on 11/8/2007 2:31:31 PM , Rating: 2
When you go to they toy store, you can always tell the toys that are made in Europe - you just have to look at the price tag. Legos, for instance, are terribly expensive considering the cost of production which I would expect is relatively low. I realize the weak dollar makes this situation worse, however, if Legos were made in Aisa instead, they could be sold at 1/2 what they are now.

Just wait, the future is mega-brands like Lego, but from Asia - just give them a little more time for R&D and branding.

RE: It's a good thing Lego is made in Europe
By SirLucius on 11/8/2007 2:38:53 PM , Rating: 5
Don't they already have those? They're called Mega-Blocks or something like that. They're basically over-sized Legos that lack the same quality. I remember having them way back in pre-school and kindergarten. Despite the cheaper price, they haven't caught on the way Legos have.

RE: It's a good thing Lego is made in Europe
By theapparition on 11/8/2007 3:31:35 PM , Rating: 1
Mega blocks are for toddlers, Legos are for pre-teens.

Different markets, but Legos are so much cooler.
Yes, I had to buy the Lego Millenium Falcon and build it myself.

RE: It's a good thing Lego is made in Europe
By 16nm on 11/8/07, Rating: 0
RE: It's a good thing Lego is made in Europe
By TomZ on 11/8/2007 7:52:07 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe there's more to life than just "tech." Obviously people are reading the article and even commenting on it, so there must be some interest. Not every article will appeal to every DT reader after all.

By 16nm on 11/10/2007 10:32:21 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe there's more to life than just "tech."

I guess there might be more to life than just "tech." I never considered that could be possible. However, this is Daily Tech .com, right? A technology news site, no? Well, I guess the answer is obvious - no. I shall expect to see the same articles that I see on general news sites... how boring.

By gmyx on 11/9/2007 9:01:24 AM , Rating: 2
You are thinking of Duplo, the Lego brand for their large blocks. Mega blocks is a Canadian company with compatible blocks. I've got both - legos and Mega blocks.

By cheetah2k on 11/8/2007 8:28:21 PM , Rating: 2
There are Lego knock-offs in Mainland China. I've seen them so many times during my trips, and they are priced around 1/4 of the cost and are also compatible with the originals...

I wonder if these also disolve into the "date rape" drug like the beeds.

So now we have to stop our kids from sucking on their toys?

Maybe we should starting exporting Arsenic laced produce to China?

I wonder what other potential time bombs are being imported from China, that will affect our loved ones??

By BZDTemp on 11/8/2007 3:10:38 PM , Rating: 2
Please don't complain about price - Lego cost almost double here in Europe. Just like all the other international brands they charge what the market can handle so like Sony, Microsoft and many others they make EU citizen pay big time!

Anyway you can't really compare Lego with the cheap stuff. I have bricks my parents got some 30+ years ago and they still look nice and work great with even the latest sets. If ever they feel like a freshening up they just go in a fabric bag and take a spin in the washing machine (electric engines excluded of course) :-)

RE: It's a good thing Lego is made in Europe
By Ryanman on 11/8/2007 8:24:34 PM , Rating: 1
Yeah I dunno if you've read what kinda tolerances Legos are built to... I've had cars run over some of my structures and they lasted. Broken more than one fingernail trying to get them apart. Some of mine are 17 years old and still fit like the day they were made.
Does that mean they're worth 10 cents (+/-) apiece (and 15 cents for the "star wars" onces)? In my opinion yes, because if something is going to be still in shape 35 years from now it's worth it. But they're DAMN expensive and I'm sure they don't shirk on the profits.

By cheetah2k on 11/8/2007 8:31:20 PM , Rating: 2
With long life spans like that, Lego makes for good non-biodegradeable land fill dont you think?

Actually I love the stuff - especially technics Lego

By derdon on 11/9/2007 2:49:54 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, yes the price, but the Lego you buy today you can pass on to your grandchildren's children. I've got a whole ton of it at home thrown together from all the different things. It will be good enough for generations. There's probably a lot of the parts lost, but it's so much you can use it to build whatever your imagination is up to.

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