The Minnesota Department of Commerce will ban certain knockoffs of the popular “Beyblades” spinning battle toys after investigators found they contain toxic levels of lead and cadmium.
Amazon and other online retailers have been ordered to stop selling the off-brand products in Minnesota ahead of the holidays, state Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley said at a news briefing Tuesday morning.
“The fact that these toy manufacturers were so careless is upsetting,” Kelley said.
The state began investigating the toys after a Minnesota child was found to have elevated blood lead levels. State officials declined to give any details about the child’s condition, saying only that his or her blood levels were improving.
The circular, top-like toys are loaded into a handheld device, wound up and shot down onto a platform where they spin around. Children battle each other, seeing whose toy spins longer as the two tops ram each other and spin against the side of the platform.
State investigators tested 50 of the products they were able to buy online, both off-brand and name brand. Toxic levels of lead and cadmium were found in 15, all off-brand. Name-brand toys from Hasbro and Takara Tomy were found to be safe, investigators said.
The off-brand products were significantly cheaper and had packaging designed to look like official Beyblades toys, Kelley said.
“These boxes are clearly designed to confuse the consumer,” he said. “As a grandpa, I could see myself mistakenly choosing the off-brand product.”
The danger comes from tiny shards of lead that wear off the toy as children handle it or when it crashes into another spinner. The insidious part of heavy metal exposure is that it can take years for symptoms to emerge, said Daniel Huff, assistant commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Health.
“Cadmium impacts bone growth and causes kidney damage, and both cadmium and lead cause neurological damage, which often isn’t detected until later on, when we start seeing behavioral or learning issues,” Huff said. “So it’s always important that parents have their children tested for lead levels.”
The knockoff spinners were not found in any brick-and-mortar stores. Under the ban, Amazon, AliExpress, Wish.com and other online retailers will have 24 hours to either stop selling the products on their websites or to provide disclaimers that show the toys are banned in Minnesota due to “toxic levels of lead and cadmium.” The websites will also be required to stop the shipment of any off-brand spinners to Minnesota.
Two years ago, the Commerce Department found lead in jewelry that was being sold on Amazon and state investigators were able to work with the retail giant to remove the product from its website, Kelley said. “We hope the online sellers do the right thing and remove these products immediately,” he said.
If they fail to do so, the state will likely seek a court order and fine the companies.
Kelley warned parents to avoid buying off-brand toys online, in general, and to make sure any product has clear information about where it was made and matches its advertising before allowing their kids to play with it.
Greg Stanley • 612-673-4882