The Checkout

Major Toy Recall of Magnetix

The Consumer Product Safety Commission today announced a major recall of all Magnetix magnetic building sets because the tiny magnets inside the plastic building pieces and rods can fall out and be VERY hazardous, especially to young children who like to swallow small parts. If more than one magnet is swallowed, the magnets can attract to each other and cause intestinal perforation or blockage, which can be fatal. The agency said it knows of 34 incidents involving the small magnets, including one death and four serious injuiries.

A 20-month-old boy died after he swallowed magnets that twisted his small intestine and created a blockage. Three children between 3 and 8 had intestinal perforations that required surgery and hopsitalization in intensive care. A 5-year-old aspirated two magnets that were surgically removed from his lung.

The sets, made in China, imported by Rose Art Industries Inc. and sold by major retailers incuding Wal-Mart, Target, Toys R Us, Fred Meyer, Design Science Toys Ltd, and A.C. Moore, should be removed from play areas immediately and returned to Rose Art for a free replacement product suitable for young children. Visit Rose Art's Web site for details. As of 11:30 this morning, the site was still promoting Magnetix and didn't have recall details but I'm told it should be up later today. Meanwhile, read the AP story for more details.

By  |  March 31, 2006; 11:09 AM ET Recalls
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I am absolutely amazed that it took THIS LONG for this toy to be recalled! We've had Magnetix sets since they first came out, and the little magnets started falling out almost immediately. I've been super-glueing them back in.

Posted by: HC | March 31, 2006 11:59 AM

We've had Magnetix for several years now without incident. Nothing has come apart, and we always watch (as closely as possible) our children when they play with the Magnetix because they are small.

Posted by: pac | March 31, 2006 12:15 PM

What are going to replace them? Do we get full refunds for them?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 31, 2006 12:25 PM

They don't offer financial refunds, however they will "replace" the Magnetix with another toy appropriate for your childs age group. But Rose Art is only offering a choice of 6 replacement toys AND the ones for the 6+ age group are only for boys! It's a race car or battleship. What am I supposed to offer my daughters??

Posted by: Anonymous | March 31, 2006 12:46 PM

Posted by: Anonymous | March 31, 2006 1:09 PM

Get her the race car, and quit worrying about gender-stereotyping your daughter's interests. The legacy of Danica Patrick will thank you.

Posted by: Welcome to the 21st Century | March 31, 2006 1:18 PM

I agree completely with Welcome to the 21st Century. I am a 23 year old female, currently dressed in pink from head to toe. I was raised with equal parts ballet lessons and baseball in an all boys (except me) little league. I think I turned out all right.
Consider it an investment in your daughters' futures, when they decide to major in engineering instead of English and can hold a conversation with the boys around the watercooler in their predominantly male careers.

Posted by: Tomboy who wears pink | March 31, 2006 1:40 PM

We are about to launch an online store that sells ONLY magnetic toys and games. I won't name our store here as my comments are not meant to be a plug for our store. Rather, I will say that we spent a great deal of time evaluating EVERY major magnetic construction set on the US market and came to the quick and easy conclusion that Magnetix would NOT be carried in our store. Why not? Right out of the brand new package, pieces had detached magnets. While we certainly never thought that a death could result from this, we did think that the magnets could be easily swallowed. Further, as a construction set, pieces without magnets are useless. We also found the strength of the magnets to be insufficient to support the weight of larger constructions. In the end we chose just one brand - and it was NOT Magnetix.

Posted by: Magnaman | March 31, 2006 2:48 PM

Magnaman, what brand did you ultimately choose? I'd like to know what the best alternative was that you came up with after all that research.

Posted by: Squiggly | March 31, 2006 3:08 PM

Geomag is the best magnetic construction set. Rose Art copied them from the beginning. Magnetix is a cheap version of the GeoMag concept. Not surprising that this cost-cutting has led to poor quality

Posted by: Toycounsel | March 31, 2006 3:22 PM

So, I want some of these! I don't have kids. Where can I get them if they're pulled from shelves?

Remember that Onion strip, "Cool Toy Ruined For Everyone Because Of One Stupid Kid"?

Also, will the magnetix prevent you from getting hit by falling yogurt?

Posted by: Tani | March 31, 2006 3:49 PM

My daughter loves Magnetix and is crushed that they have been pulled. And...she would not be interested in a race car as a replacement. Besides, we have 5 or 6 sets of magnetix, will they replace each set with a race car?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 31, 2006 6:40 PM

Hi Squiggly: We ultimately went with Geomag. It had the best balance of component quality, durability, magnetic strength, instructions and following. We were able to make some very sophisticated and very large structures with Geomag. The same structures were simply not possible with other products as they would collapse under their own weight. Geomag gets our seal of approval, especially now that we are learning of the widespread problem with Magnetix. Geomag magnets simply cannot fall out - and are large enough at about an inch in length that a child would be very unlikely to accidentally swallow one.

Posted by: Magnaman | March 31, 2006 6:48 PM

Confused reporting here is rampant. These products are great for children 6 and older. Of Course they're not for children under3 years old. Every parent with common sense knows this and judging by the limited number of actual injuries the average American parent is pretty smart. Here are the facts:
1.This is a replacement offer for parents with young children in their household for whom the product is clearly not intended.Kudos to the Company for offering this to anxious parents who shouldn't give these sets to youngerchildren, especially under 3.
2.The product at retail is great for children 6 and older.Play, create,imagine and enjoy!
3.I checked there were not 34 other injuries, just complaints about broken pieces; no injuries.
4.Health Canada says they don't have any injuries and that's the case with most of the US too.
WHY CAN'T THE MEDIA get this right? Why don't they use use clearer language: Small parts with magnets are not suitable for children under 3, but are fine for children over 6???????????

Posted by: Toy Expert | March 31, 2006 7:47 PM

These are great toys for children over 6! I love them, my kids love them and they're great play for both Boys and Girls.Sounds like the Magnaman and Toycounsel are other manufacturers or their reps, just trying to promote their product. Shame on you.

Posted by: Happy Parent | March 31, 2006 7:50 PM

Happy Parent: As I mentioned above, I am a retailer. I also specifically stated that I was NOT here to plug my own store. When I was asked about which construction toy we chose over all others, I answered truthfully. No shame here.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 31, 2006 7:59 PM

Some plain talk would be helpful.It seems what everyone is trying to say is:

Consumers should: Be sure to keep ALL small magnet parts out of the hands of children who mouth objects, especially children under the age of three; Remind three to five year olds to keep such items out of their mouths; and Instruct older children to keep these parts out of reach of younger children. Manufacturers provide warning labels on the boxes to help parents make informed choices when buying toys with and for childrenParents must makesure toys appropriate for older children don't fall into younger hands. This program is intended to address concerns about young children, especially under 3 years of age,who shouldn't be allowed to play with small parts by offering parents of these children an alternative product that is suitable for them. This does not involve product at retail and is intended to address concerns that consumers with young children may have.

Posted by: In English Please | March 31, 2006 8:29 PM

You could put warning labels everywhere, you could make the whole box a giant warning label and it wouldn't matter. As soon as someone gets hurt, the product is finished. It's all about perception. If the consumers perceive the product is dangerous now, nobody is going to buy it.

Thus, Magnet Store Guy, you better start broadening your product line, because you're not going to be selling any magnets any time soon.

Nor will any of you be seeing these magnets in any large retail stores in the future. Even if you think it's safe, no retailers are going to be putting it on the shelves.

Toy buyers in retail stores don't want the agggrevation. They're people too you know, and they have bosses and quotas, and they're not going to risk they're comfy jobs over a couple of SKUs that the public has probably lost confidence on. My best guess is that there won't be anything with a magnet in a toy for the next couple of years.

As for RoseArt, them giving away those replacment toys is actually helping them. First, those toys are products that they couldn't sell off, that are stuck in their warehouse in NJ. So you're actually helping them by replacing the toys because they lose money everyday by keeping that crap in the warehouse. It's taking up space their warehouse space. Space is money.
Second, they're now forcing a new product line on you called MEGA BLOKS, a company they took over a couple of years ago to compete with LEGO. So they're in fact doing a little advertising now.

It's a double whammy! Quite a clever move by Larry Rosen. They may actually come out on top with this. The Magnetix line has already climaxed but this is an opportunity to get his MEGA BLOKS out there.

Posted by: Toy Maker | March 31, 2006 10:49 PM

toy maker, u are right
those replacement toy is definitely those toys that cannot sell and all cover with dust in their warehouse.

i don't understand why is it so difficult to refund coz my son don't like racing car or space ship. he just tell me that he prefer to replace with some Bratz or Barbie, so what can i do ?

Posted by: toy merchandiser | March 31, 2006 11:00 PM

Ridiculous. You reps are very cynical. There was a tragedy here, and the Company is doing a great thing by stepping up and offering a solution to other concerned parents like me while reminding us all of the need to be selective about matching appropriate age labeled product with our kids age and ability. Its silly to think with just in time production and distribution programs today, that they're just unloading warehoused products. I bet they have to special order alot of this stuff from china, just to keep consumers like me happy. I wish there were more companies like this. Solutions instead of blame.

Posted by: Toy Consumer | April 1, 2006 12:13 AM

what happens in canada

Posted by: sandra | April 1, 2006 9:27 AM

The recall is still not listed on their website. I think it's criminal that they are not publicizing this problem. They should be punished for not spreading the news of the risk that their product poses.

Posted by: saran | April 2, 2006 11:07 AM

I visited a local Toys 'r Us yesterday. According to the manager, "the recall is voluntary". Imagine that!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 2, 2006 1:01 PM

Some of you who've posted about the age restriction thing are missing the point. The serious injuries occured because very tiny magnets (remember, one kid inhaled, not swallowed, them) fell out of the larger pieces. It's not a matter of people giving them to kids under 3, leaving the room, and finding out that the child swallowed them. The serious injuries, which occur when multiple magnets are ingested, are not due to anything inherent to these magnetic building kits in general. I have one of these, and I never would have guessed that the rods and plastic connectors often fall apart in this way. If you're not familiar with the product, just be aware that nothing you see on or in the box is remotely small enough to be inhaled, and though I wouldn't give them to a 2-year-old, in reality one would be hard-pressed to swallow 2 of the full-sized pieces under supervision.

The RoseArt website also gives the impression that any danger is due to magnetic toys being improperly used and not to the fact that their toys are falling apart on people. This is disingenuous and dangerous. I also do not think that the recall should be voluntary.

Posted by: Another parent | April 3, 2006 8:32 PM

My heart goes out to the family who lost the little boy and to the families who have had other related injuries. Goes to show we can never be too careful and take for granted that our children will be safe. I do however, acknowledge that a warning was posted on the box, and I do believe that regardless, it is the caregivers' responsibility to keep potentially dangerous toys away from small children. My 10 year old son got Magnetix for Christmas and was looking forward to adding to his set for his birthday. My 6 year old son also likes them. They are not allowed to play with them or even bring them in the room where my 10 month old crawls around. I am disappointed by the replacement toy options. We loved Magnetix because they are a science-based, open-ended construction toy that teaches creativity, spacial relations, geometry, etc., not just another silly race car that will bore the kids in a week's time. And the last thing I want in this house is a battleship that promotes violence. The company should offer a choice of a replacement toy OR a refund.

Posted by: New England Mom | April 4, 2006 7:54 PM

you people are nuts must be americans

Posted by: b | April 5, 2006 1:35 PM

People who try to distinquish betwen hazards from small parts and tiny small parts, are missing the point. The fact is that to have a problem with Magnets multiple ones have to be swallowed over an interval of time. All small parts can present a problem with intestinal blockage. In fact such cases with magnets are very rare. Coins and jewelry are a far more common cause of such blockage.There simply is no substitute fo adult supervision and getting timely medical care for a child in distress.

Posted by: Radiology | April 9, 2006 10:10 PM

This is not something to take lightly...
I am a mother of an 18 month old who swallowed these little magnets that were not secured properly to their plastic rod.
Every parent knows that small children seem to have a keen sense for finding things on the floor, and the first thing they do is put them in their mouth... No matter how watchful a parent is, it happens. Especially if they are not expecting a tiny magnet to come loose from an other wise not so easy to swallow toy. I am still trying to get in contact with Rose Art for any helpful information... My son pasted these magnets,(thanks to some good old cod liver oil) but I am still fearful,and concerned, that they some how messed up his intestines. Anyone out there with some useful info. on how to get help from Rose Art???? And not some cheap China, slave labor made, toy!!!!!

Posted by: A kramer | April 12, 2006 2:55 PM

I have talked to Roseart and MegaBloks, on more than one occasion and each time I do the rep acts as if she is hearing of this problem for the first time. The bottom line is; the magnetix toy breaks. The magnets should not be coming out of the casings.
The swiss made Geomags toy is fantastic, I have yet to see a broken one. Roseart's toy is a poorly made version of the Geomag.
In every single case of injury resulting from the Magnetix toy, NOT ONE has been from a child swallowing the entire rod or is always the tiny magnets that have broken away from the plastic casing.
Roseart/MegaBloks, in its press releases NEVER wants to mention that the magnets broke, they just try to paint a picture that the toy is being played with by the wrong age group. They prefer to blame the parents. Here in Canada the Magnetix sets that are on the shelf at Walmart have an age rating of 3 on the boxes,(I was there yesterday looking). The only sets with 6 and up on them are the Micro sets.

Posted by: A Canadian parent | April 13, 2006 2:29 PM

The bottom line is Rose Art has a defective toy on the market. These tiny magnets should not be falling out of their plastic rod. Parents shouldn't have to tell their older children "when you're done playing with them make sure you pick up all the tiny magnets that came loose from the cheaply made plastic rod."

Posted by: AK | April 13, 2006 11:42 PM

Hey consumers - whether American, Canadian, UK etc. -

There is a site that has compiled MEGA POWERFUL information on the Magnetix recall and the dangers of small magnets. Also they have links to state-specific enforcement in the State of NJ. Please pass on this web address...spread the warning.

FYI, Rose Art/ Mega Bloks will pick up your Magnetix sets at no charge and they have CHANGED the selections of Replacement Products for recalled products at their web sites.

Their web site says you can get a replacement toy if you bought the toy for a child under 6, however the spokesman at the US CPSC has stated that everyone should stop using all Magnetix sets sold between Sept. '03 and March '06 and they require all replacement requests to be honored, no matter what age your child(ren) are. The reason, again, is that the Magnetix toys produced during that time were defective and the magnets can easily fall out.

Posted by: A Mom | April 14, 2006 6:34 PM

I cannot believe some of the comments to this article. And it's because most of you don't have a clue what you're talking about. I am an overly protective and watchful mother of an-almost 5-year-old son and an 8-year-old daughter. My son received the toy as a gift at Christmas. It was only played with a handful of times by my son and daughter together. We had no knowledge of any of the magnets falling out. I tell my son literally all of the time, and he'll even quote me, "Don't put anything in your mouth, except for food, you could choke on it and die." Now, I ask you, who thinks to tell their child, don't swallow your toy because it might create holes in your intestine and leak out deadly bacteria? Certainly not me. My child does not mouth things, he's nearly 5-years-old, so please, don't try to tell me or any other parent that this is only a hazard for ages below 3. And what about the boy that constructed a cell phone with them, pretended with it by holding it up to his ear and one of the magnets fell into his ear creating serious effects. My son almost died due to the defectiveness of this toy that RoseArt/Mega Bloks refuses to pull because they are making so much money on it. Don't any of you dare try and accuse any parent of it being their fault. And I was completely offended by the remark of Tani regarding "cool toy ruined by one stupid kid". I wonder if you would have the nerve to say that to the family of Penny Sweet. None of you have a clue. To the person whose son swallowed them but passed them, take him to the hospital and tell them what happened, he most likely has injury inside, magnets begin to erode once they hit the stomach acid. Magnetix should come off the shelf of every store and should be thrown out of every home. It is not safe and it is literally killing injuring and killing children.

Posted by: Magnetix=Death | April 22, 2006 7:17 AM

I would appreciate it if those of you who are any of the 5 people pursuing lawsuits against this product or their friends would clearly identify yourselves. It seems that some of you are. What are you hiding? With millions of these products bought and so few actual injuries, what's going on here and on those blogs? Who's behind them???

Posted by: Pattern? | April 25, 2006 10:54 AM


I decided to comment because I don't think parents believe that something could happen to their child if they follow the guidelines of the toy however it can happen to anyone. I know this first hand because my child just had a major surgery last week in which the specialist had to remove his apendix and repair damage done to his small and large intestine. My child was old enough to be using the product and we watched and played with him many times and it still happened. My son didn't normally put things in his mouth however he had discovered that he could use his teeth to open or separate things he was struggling with the week before the incident. We had been on him about it but he still ended up accidently swallowing a magnet and a silver ball from the set. We went to the ER and to the doctor after there was no sign of the pieces passing but even the doctors didn't think that they wouldn't pass because they were in the intestines and if they make it that far they normally come out. When the next x-ray showed the objects in the same place the became concered and decided to do surgery. They were shocked what they saw because they had created a hole in my child's intestines but my child never showed signs of being sick or bowel problems. My family is lucky and we are not a family that is sueing however I feel that magnets in the body are to dangerous for any child no matter what the age or how close you watch your child. The body doesn't react well and does cause serious problems. Please don't think that we now hate magnetix because they were lots of fun but my family can't indorse any magnet product that can do so much damage.

Posted by: It happened to us | June 6, 2006 8:50 PM

Unbelievable!!! This product is not in our home, however it's at the inlaws and relatives not to mention preschool . Its disturbing that all sets are not refunded, rather than those only in homes with children 6 and under. It is not widely known that all sets should be replaced. Roseart is certainly not recommending that. The magnetics pose a threat to ALL! Safety is not an issue to some, obviously out of sheer stupidity.
I was told by a local teacher to donate them to her class... And why would I want someone else's child in harm's way? Anyone is vulnerable with this product. An educator myself, I wanted to know what she would tell her students' parents when something happened.
I witnessed a thirteen year old jokingly use the pieces as a nose piercing to get a parents reaction. They had them hanging from their ears to see how many they could keep on. One of the older kids found it humerous to find the magnets would attract through the skin on his jaw. All of these kids well exceed the age concerns and were in the presence of adults. (2 weeks Later)
When I was playing with the Same product at relatives with our 5 year old , he discovered the magnets were coming apart from the ends of the rods. In trying to hand them to me it actually attracted the magnetic poles through his fore finger. The magnets are tiny and very strong! Another magnet had already fallen out and we searched the floor with a metal container to find it. How can this be safe for any age? Or pets for that matter?
Numbers listed by retailers are no longer in service. Roseart gives a long distance number for recalls...Why should I pay again?
Roseart has nothing for direct email regarding this problem. Why are they still on retailers shelves? Why would I want little kids blocks (manufacturers suggested replacement) to replace a very age appropriate toy?
My sympathies to those who have had to deal with this in their families. As for those schmos who think the media has hyped up the injuries and death to this product, get some help! Do you work for Roseart? It shouldn't happen at all and certainly not more than once!!!
Unfortunately, the way it is being downplayed and dismissed as inproper use will eventually lead to more unpleasant headlines.

Posted by: outraged!! | July 10, 2006 12:21 AM

Just an update. Roseart made contact with me today to replace with age appropriate toys. I had to make it very clear that I did not want baby blocks for 7,11 & 13 year old. They're working on what to replace it with but want to evaluate the product first to assess a monetary value. I quess that's fair but I can't be the only caller having concerns over the older children. Furthermore, Can't they tell the price from the model numbers I gave off the box. I really take offense to how casually they are handling this. I could care less about the cost lets get these things out of peoples homes and stores!!! I don't want to drop my child somewhere and have him exposed to these... let's say school for instance. I've alerted some of the teachers and principals in the area. Hopefully, they will not use the product in the classrooms. I encourage everyone to mention the recall to the schools so the product can be removed.

Posted by: outraged!! | July 10, 2006 5:00 PM

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