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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 CNN.com, "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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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) :-)


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