Continuing ‘War On Toys,’ Feds File Lawsuit

Published September 3, 2015

Zen Magnets, a vendor of toy magnet sets, is continuing to fight Consumer Product Safety Commission regulations intended to prevent the sale and manufacture of toy magnet sets marketed to adults for entertainment purposes.

In 2014, CPSC issued new regulations banning importing or manufacturing or magnets or toy magnet sets deemed to be excessively strong, responding to 100 reported hospital visits, , between 2009 and 2011, involving young children eating toy magnets, or about 5 cases per one million children,

‘Only Dangerous If Misused’
Shihan Qu, the owner of Zen Magnets, says CSPC’s war on toys isn’t in consumers’ best interests.

Zen Magnets is the remaining American vendor of imported toy magnets, and the target of several lawsuits filed by the federal government.

“There are products that are meant to hurt: guns, tasers, many military products,” he said. “There are products that are reasonably expected to hurt: trampolines, skateboards, snowboards, other things with warnings that say ‘this is inherently dangerous to use,’ and then there products that are only dangerous if misused, like magnets and all other products.”

‘Laughed Off a Ballot’
Qu says CPSC’s anti-toy campaign is ridiculous.

“I think there’s something very wrong if unelected government bureaucracy can pass laws that would otherwise be laughed off a ballot, if presented as an option to the public,” he said. “It seems to me that if the CPSC felt accountable to the public, there would be a point where external public interest could change their minds, and that they should be the ones conducting polls to make sure they are not being unreasonable.”

Qu says CPSC’s past efforts to force his competitors out of business, and close the toy magnet market, undermine the agency’s stated goal.

“You can still search [for] Neocube, Buckyballs, and magnet spheres, and the first pages’ results will give you many places to purchase them all from China,” he said. “They have made it harder to measure their effectiveness, since Chinese companies don’t have to answer to the CPSC, and the CPSC has no U.S. companies left to interrogate about sales figures.”

‘Hardly’ Legitimate
Adrian Moore, Vice President of the Reason Foundation, says CPSC is overreaching its boundaries.

“I can say this hardly looks like legitimate oversight, he said. “CPSC doesn’t provide evidence of innocent and helpless individuals like kids or pets being harmed, just hypothetical examples and rumors. 

“They seem particularly bent out of shape that the warning label provided by Zen Magnets is irreverent…. pointing out it would be really stupid to give their little magnets to kids so young they swallow them, and even more stupid for adults to swallow them,” Moore said. “They point out there is nothing defective or unsafe about their product, unless you do something stupid with them.”

Matt Hurley ([email protected]) writes from Cincinnati, Ohio.