Thursday, September 27, 2007

Simplicity Recalls Cribs

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is announcing today a voluntary recall with Simplicity Inc., of Reading, Pa., of about 1 million cribs. The drop-side can detach from the crib, which can create a dangerous gap and lead to the entrapment and suffocation of infants.

The recalled Simplicity crib models include: Aspen 3 in 1, Aspen 4 in 1, Nursery-in-a-Box, Crib N Changer Combo, Chelsea and Pooh 4 in 1. The recall also involves the following Simplicity cribs that used the Graco logo: Aspen 3 in 1, Ultra 3 in 1, Ultra 4 in1, Ultra 5 in 1, Whitney and the Trio.

The recalled cribs have one of the following model numbers, which can be found on the envelope attached to the mattress support and on the label attached to the headboard: 4600, 4605, 4705, 5000, 8000, 8324, 8800, 8740, 8910, 8994, 8050, 8750, 8760, and 8996.

The cribs, which were made in China, were sold in department stores, children’s stores and mass merchandisers nationwide from January 1998 through May 2007 for between $100 and $300.

Consumers who have a crib with older style hardware can receive a free repair by immediately contacting Simplicity toll-free at (888) 593-9274 between 8:30 a.m. and 10 p.m. ET Monday through Thursday, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET on Friday, and between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET on Saturday, or by visiting the firm’s Web site at

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

New Video Games Due This Week

You have probably already heard about a little game called Halo 3, which is in stores today. If you are thinking of buying one you might want to do that soon because odds are good, they won't be on shelves for long before selling out. If Microsoft's estimates are accurate, sales of Halo 3 will pass the opening 24 hour gross of Spider-Man 3 this past summer. Don't worry if you can't get a copy of Halo 3 for yourself, there are plenty of other games coming out this week. Among those games, there are several new titles for the kids in your life. Check out Animal Genius, Backyard Basketball, Crayola Treasure Adventures, Dora the Explorer: Candyland, and Go, Diego, Go! Safari Rescue. All of these titles are perfect for young gamers.

Animal Genius/DS
Backyard Basketball 2007/DS
Balls of Fury/Wii. DS
Brain Spa/PC
Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts/PC
Crayola Treasure Adventures/DS
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: Hard Evidence/Xbox360, PC
Dance Dance Revolution SuperNOVA 2/PS2
Dance Dance Revolution: Hottest Party/Wii
Dave Mirra BMX Challenge/Wii
Dewy's Adventure/Wii
Dragon Blade: Wrath of Fire/Wii
Dora the Explorer: Candyland/PC
Ducati World Championship/PC
Go, Diego, Go! Safari Rescue/PC
Halo 3/Xbox 360
Hot Wheels: Beat That PS2, Xbox360, Wii
Hour of Victory/PC
Jackass the Game/PS2
Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights/PS3, PSP
Loki: Heroes of Mythology/PC
NBA 08/PS3, PS2, PSP
Ninjabread Man/Wii
The Settlers: Rise of an Empire/PC
Soul Nomad & the World Eaters/PS2

Friday, September 21, 2007

Transformers Movie IMAX Experience

This week, the Transformers Movie opens on IMAX screens across the country. This is a great opportunity to see one of the summer's best action flicks on a ginormous screen if you missed it when it was first released in July. However, if you already saw the movie and are planning to check out the IMAX release because of the addition of some deleted scenes, you might be a bit disappointed.

From what we are hearing, the additional scenes are simply superfluous extensions that add nothing to the film's story and most of the deleted footage is human-based, which means no extra robot action. With that said, the IMAX does provide the perfect setting for a movie of this magnitude and is sure to satisfy anyone looking for big action on the big screen.

-J. McKinney

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The DXG-711 Digital Camera Big on Features, Low on Price

Looking for a new digital camera with all the bells and whistles but just a whisper of the price? Then check out the DXG-711 from DXG. The DXG-711's compact and lightweight design make it the perfect fit for anyone who wants a camera small enough to throw in a pocket and take everywhere. At the same time, the large 2.5" High Res LCD screen, 7 Megapixel sensor, and 3X optical zoom delivers a device that will capture crisp, close and stunning photographs. Additional features such as video and voice recording round out the package, all of which comes with a suggested retail price of just $150.

-J. McKinney

REI Recalls Children’s Trailer Bicycles

The CPSC, in cooperation with Recreational Equipment Inc.(REI), of Kent, WA., has announced a recall of Novara Afterburner Trailer Bicycles. Consumers should stop using the product immediately unless otherwise instructed.

This recall involves the Novara Afterburner trailer bicycle, a single-wheel children’s bicycle that attaches to, and cannot be operated independently of, an adult bicycle. The reason for the recall is that the children’s trailer bicycle can detach from the adult bicycle, posing a fall hazard to children.

The recalled items were sold at REI stores nationwide from February 2007 through June 2007 for about $160.Consumers should immediately stop using the bicycle trailer, visit the nearest REI store or contact REI for a free replacement part, a full refund or credit. For additional information, contact REI at (800) 426-4840 between 4 a.m. and 11 p.m. PT seven days a week, visit the company’s Web site at or contact your local REI store.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

New Video Games Due This Week

Xbox owners everywhere are eagerly awaiting the release of Halo 3 next week but this week is no slouch in the new releases section. Stranglehold makes it's PS3 and PC debut, while MySims is now available for the Wii and DS. If you are shopping for a youngster in your life, check out Interactive Storybook DS: Series 1 for the DS. This Educational Adventure game brings together classic stories and adds an interactive element allowing children to expand their minds and imaginations as the stories come to life in a whole new way.

7 Wonders of the Ancient World/DS
Blazing Angels 2: Secret Missions of WWII/Xbox360, PC
Coded Arms: Contagion/PSP
Cosmic Family/Wii
Dewy's Adventure /Wii
Death to Spies/PC
Digimon World: Data Squad/PS2
Digimon World: Dawn/DS
Eternal Sonata/Xbox360
Fantasy Wars/PC
Fishing Master/Wii
Growlancer: Heritage of War/PS2
Interactive Storybook DS: Series 1/DS
Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights/Xbox360, PS2, DS
Mercury Meltdown Revolution/Wii
MySims/Wii, DS
Stranglehold/PC, PS3
Sonic Rush Adventure/DS
Wariors Orochi/Xbox360, PS2
World in Conflict/PC

Friday, September 14, 2007

Toys "R" Us Recalls Wooden Coloring Cases

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with Toys "R" Us Inc., of Wayne, N.J., recently announced a voluntary recall of Imaginarium Wooden Coloring Cases. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed.

The recall involves the Imaginarium brand 213 Piece Wooden Coloring Case which includes crayons, pastels, colored pencils, fiber pens, paintbrush, pencil, water colors, palette, white paint, ruler and pencil sharpener in a light tan wooden carrying case. The case measures about 14 inches high by 19 inches wide. The recalled items were sold at Toys "R" Us stores nationwide and from October 2006 through August 2007 for about $20.

Consumers should immediately take the products away from children and return the item to the nearest Toys "R" Us store for store credit. For more information, contact Toys "R" Us at (800) TOYSRUS/869-7787 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. ET Monday through Saturday, and between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Sunday, or visit the company’s Web site at

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

New Study Reveals Most Polar Bears Will be Gone by 2050

The results of a recent U.S. Geological Survey study have been published and the findings are frightening. According to the study, More than two thirds of the world's polar bears will be wiped out by 2050 as a result of global warming. By that time, 42 per cent of the Arctic sea ice which the bears need to hunt and breed will have melted . The study warns that by 2100, their will only be a handful of polar bears in existence.

The study was conducted to provide the U.S. government with critical data supporting the need to add the bears to the list of endangered species. The team of American and Canadian scientists spent six months studying three groups of bears, through a combination or research and observation on the ground, by air and in the lab.

For more information on this story, please visit National Geographic

-J. McKinney

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Nintendo Giving Away Free Remote Straps

Nintendo has just released the fourth version of its Wii-Remote strap and they are giving them away free. All you have to do is fill out the form here and Nintendo will send you up to four replacement straps. Make sure you have your Wii-Remote with you when you fill out the form because you will be required to enter the serial number.

-J. McKinney

New Video Games Due This Week

There are quite a few great titles for kids this week starting off with Konami Kids Playground, which is actually four different games that are each part of a series designed for the pre-K market. The titles are Alphabet Circus, Dinosaur Shapes and Colors, Frogger Hop, Skip & Jumpin' Fun, and Toy Pals Fun with Numbers. Additional kid-friendly games include Drawn To Life for the DS, Neopets: Codestone Quest for PC, Puppy Luv: Spa and Resort for DS and GBA, and Zoey 101: Field Trip Fiasco for DS.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - Gamer of the Year Edition/Xbox360, PC
Drawn to Life/DS
Fatal Inertial/Xbox360
Galactic Assault: Prisoner of Power/PC
Guilty Gear XX Accent Core/Wii, PS2
.hack//G.U. vol. 3 Redemption/PS2
Heavenly Sword/PS3
Jam Sessions/DS
Jewel Quest Expedition/DS
Kengo: Legend of the 9/Xbox360
Konami Kids Playground/PS2
Neopets: Codestone Quest /PC
NHL 08/Xbox360, PS3, PC, PS2
NHL 2K8/PS3, X360, PS2
Plant Tycoon/Mac
Puppy Luv: Spa and Resort/DS, GBA
Seven Kingdoms: Conquest/PC
Zoey 101: Field Trip Fiasco/DS

Friday, September 07, 2007

Are My Toys Safe??? The Facts & What You Should Do

Nothing scares parents quite as much as the phrase “lead paint in toys.” And over the past months, the media has had a field day with reports of recalls. What is particularly repellent in all of this is the wilful ignorance that much of the mainstream media is taking to this.

I've got to say I'm pretty sick of "investigative" TV reporters shoving microphone in people's faces and asking, "How do you fell about toy companies poisoning your children?" This flawed bit of journalism is called the "reaction" story, or "reax," and it is used to find a local angle to any story (print or broadcast) and boost viewership. It's not responsible journalism. It scares people, and while it makes for sensationalism and an emotional respone to something, it obscures facts and frightens people unnecessarily.

Oh, and did you hear about that woman from Colorado who put all her Mattel toys in her car and drove them to Mattel headquarters to be tested? Oh, and she happened to alert the local media that she was doing it. Seems that even our children's safety isn't as important as getting one's 15 minutes of fame.

Now, since 1978, lead paint in toys has been illegal.

So, there’s no excuse for it to show up…ever. There simply is no excuse for it, and toymakers have, very responsibly, been recalling toys that have been found to have lead in them. In fact, the Consumer Product Safety Commission posts recalls to its Web site every week. Most people give them a passing notice, if at all. The problem, of course, came when the world’s largest toy company, Mattel, was involved in a recall. The media had a field day with it. Parents got scared, and there was a big move to avoid any toys made in China.

It’s certainly understandable that people would be scared and nervous about lead exposure, and while the dangers of exposure to toxic levels of lead are well established, the reality is somewhat different. Again, this is not to excuse the presence of lead in paint; it’s illegal. But aside from responding to any recall and making sure that toys are played with appropriately, prudence, not panic should be the watchword.

What’s Lead Poisoning, Anyway?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, lead must be ingested either in solid form, or sometimes inhaled in powdered form, where paint dust has been allowed to form. By far, children’s most likely exposure to lead comes from old house paint, applied before 1978. Simply touching something with lead paint will not transfer the lead. (When a child is repeatedly going from hand to mouth, there would be a slight chance of transference, if the paint were loosened.)

The CDC defines lead poisoning as a level above 10 micrograms per milliliter of lead in blood. (Incidentally in 1990, that was only a “level of concern.”) Today, children have an average of only 2.3 mcg/ml, so it’s not likely that casual exposure can have any real risk—though, as we keep repeating, no lead is allowed, which is why the recalls have happened.

If you had children before 1978, they were undoubtedly exposed to much greater quantities of lead. And before 1980, lead was allowed in gasoline, so many of us breathed the fumes. My father, who was born in 1923, has wonderful memories of his toy soldier making kit…which required him to melt and pour lead.

Well, we know more know, and that’s a good thing, so the best is to err on the side of caution.

Moreover, the problem with lead is from ingesting it. That means, you would have to eat it in signficant amount or inhale dust. Quite frankly, while they acknowledge that it's illegal, the doctors we've spoken to are more concerned with marbles and balloons than lead.

Your children are going to be more exposed to lead through their iPods and cellphones that don't have the same standards than anything else.

And What About Magnets?

Magnets, the other major concern in toy recalls right now, are a danger—when two or more are ingested. The magnets can attract and close off vital parts, leading to illness. Toys have been recalled due to design flaws that allowed magnets to be removed from the toy. Those have been rectified, and there is now what’s called “redundancy” in the manufacturing, which allows magnets to be doubly locked into place on the toys.

What’s a Parent to Do?

Here are some tips that can help ensure that the toys you buy for your kids are safe.

1. Assume they’re safe. The problems with China have been systemic with the manufacturing, not a result of their being made in China—no matter what anyone says. Toys undergo extensive testing because toymakers, quite naturally, depend on the safety of their customers as part of their brands’ perception.
2. Check toys. If a toy is old or worn or has paint chipping off it, or has loose parts, take it away. Whether the paint has lead or not, the last thing we want is kids ingesting it. We all know that kids can be hard on their toys, so checking them regularly for signs of wear is a good idea.
3. Choose age appropriate toys. Virtually all of the toy related injuries that have been reported happen when children who are too young for a specific toy play with it. For instance, if you have older children in the house, their younger siblings may be attracted to their toys. What is perfectly appropriate for a child over 4 may pose a small parts hazard for a child up to 3.
4. Pick up your toys. Or, get kids to pick them up. The top toy-related injury is the result of people tripping over them. We don’t want to be glib, but it can be a real problem.
5. Focus on real dangers, like small parts. Over the past 15 years or so, toymakers have conscientiously focused on such things as small parts and age appropriateness. Be aware of such toys as marbles and balloons. These are the toys that young children are most likely to put in their mouths.
6. Supervise play. Particularly for the youngest kids, this is important. An accident can happen in a second, and kids can be quick and do unexpected things. If you don’t want to be in charge of the youngest kids, it’s perfectly okay to say no.

Of course, toy safety is a huge concern, and you want to be sure that your kids and grandkids are safe. But it’s also a good idea to temper your concern with common sense.

Toys sold in the U.S. are subject to the highest safety standards, and this new concern will only mean that as standards get even more strict, and enforcement is monitored even more closely that toys will only get safer in the future. And, if there is a bright spot in the recent concern, that’s probably it.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Mattel Announces Additional Voluntary Recalls

After the voluntary recalls announced by Mattel last month, the company has continued to perform additional testing on products before leaving the factory. As a result, this morning, Mattel announced an additional recall in cooperation with the CPSC.

The latest recall includes the following toys:

Various Barbie Accessory Toys that were manufactured between September 30, 2006 and August 20, 2007 and sold at retail stores nationwide from October 2006 through August 2007 for about $10. Click here for a full list of the recalled Barbie Accessory Toys.

Big Big World 6-in-1 Bongo Band toys that feature two bongos, including one with a yellow and green plastic drum base with a blue drum surface. The other bongo is yellow and green plastic drum base with an orange drum surface with “It’s a Big, Big World” printed on it. The toys were sold with animal shaped accessories including a monkey, bird, tambourine and drum stick. The toys have product number K9343 inside the orange drum. A date code between 139-7SH and 232-7SH is printed on the drum’s orange ring surface. Bongo Band toys included in this recall must have both the product number and date code. The recalled toys were sold at retail stores nationwide from July 2007 through August 2007 for about $20.

Geo Trax Freightway Transport and Geo Trax Special Track Pack locomotive toys. These toys are red with yellow paint on the ladder and horn details. The recalled models were manufactured between July 31, 2006 and August 20, 2007 and have a date code between 212-6CK through 325-6CK or 001-7CK through 232-7CK marked on the bottom of the product. The packaging on the Freightway Transport model is marked H5705 and the packaging on the Special Track Pack model is marked K3013. The recalled toys were sold at retail stores nationwide from September 2006 through August 2007 for between $3 and $16.

Consumers should immediately take the recalled toys away from children and contact Mattel for instructions on how to receive a free replacement toy of equal value. For additional information, contact Mattel’s Fisher-Price hotline at (888) 496-8330 anytime, or visit the firm’s Web site at

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

New Video Games Due This Week

The gaming industry has been buzzing about John Woo Presents Stranglehold since its e3 introduction last year. The wait is finally over with the game in stores for the Xbox 360 on September 5 and the PC and PlayStation 3 versions expected to follow on September 18 and September 25, respectively. A collaboration with world-renowned action film director John Woo's Tiger Hill Entertainment, Stranglehold allows players to take on the role of Inspector Tequila created by John Woo for his action film, Hard Boiled starring Chow Yun-Fat.

Babar/PS2, DS
Crazy Frog Arcade Racer/PS2
Cyberball 2072/Xbox360
Fatal Fury Special/Xbox360
Hour of Victory/PC
Legends of Norrath: Oathbound/PC
John Woo Presents Stranglehold/Xbox360
Medal of Honor: Airborne/Xbox360, PC
Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles 2/PS2
Pool Party/Wii
Resident Evil: The Essentials/PS2
Save the Dinos/PC
Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened/PC
Sims 2: Bon Voyage/PC
Worms: Open Warfare 2/DS, PSP