Magnetic Buckyballs toys discontinued

The popular Buckyballs and Buckycubes magnetic desk toys will be discontinued, its manufacturer said, blaming what it called "baseless and relentless legal badgering" from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

"It's time to bid a fond farewell to the world's most popular adult desk toys," Maxfield and Oberton, the maker of Buckyballs, said on its website this week. "That's right: We're sad to say that Balls and Cubes have a one-way ticket to the Land-of-Awesome-Stuff-You-Should-Have-Bought-When-You-Had-the-Chance."

A limited number of the toys are still available, but no more will be made after they sell out, the company said.

In July, the Consumer Product Safety Commission sued Maxfield and Oberton in an attempt to get the company to stop selling the toys, saying they are hazardous to children. When children swallow the powerful magnets, they can pierce holes in the intestines, the commission said, and some children have required multiple surgeries and lengthy hospitalizations. Since 2009, officials said, there have been at least a dozen ingestions of the Buckyballs magnets.

"We're doing this to keep children safe," commission spokesman Scott Wolfson said in July. "We want to prevent future surgeries."

At the time, Maxfield and Oberton spokesman Andrew Frank said the company would "fight this vigorously," noting that while "some people have misused the product," the toys were marketed to those aged 14 and up, and carry warning labels.

But "we made a tough decision after a lot of thought based on how to protect the integrity of the business, the brand, and begin to move forward," Frank said in an email Friday. "It was time for our team to start focusing on the future and providing innovative products for our loyal customers. We will continue to fight the CPSC and sell our other products."

Wolfson did not immediately return a call from CNN seeking comment Friday.

Last month, the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition said warning labels on the magnetic toys were ineffective. The group released the results of a new survey of more than 1,700 doctors, who reported at least 480 toy magnet ingestions in the past decade, with 204 occurring in the past year.

"The numbers have skyrocketed post-labeling," said Dr. Mark Gilger, a pediatric gastroenterologist who helped author the study. "There's just many examples of people ignoring the labels, or people who haven't paid attention to them bringing them to their home inadvertently."

Gilger said young children sometimes think the toys are candy, and older children and teens sometimes use the toys to mimic jewelry such as tongue or cheek piercings.

Frank last month defended Maxfield and Oberton's efforts to keep the toys away from children, and the company said in a statement it does not sell its products to children and has a strict policy of not selling to stores that do sell toys exclusively to kids.

The statement also noted the company's efforts to educate its customers, including an informational safety website it developed. The company said it has strongly advocated for a public education campaign sponsored by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, as the commission has done with other products that posed risks to children.


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