The AGES Institute for Food Safety Linz (LSL) has undertaken special examinations of different kinds of projectile toys, in addition to regular planned sampling campaigns during the last few years. The defect rate in this category of toys was shockingly high, particularly in the years 2010 and 2011 (about 30 percent of the samples had faults and 10 percent of the samples had severe faults, leading to them being classed as “hazardous to health”). Although the situation visibly improved in 2013 and 2014, there are still a number of projectile toys that do not meet the requirements set out in the Toy Safety Regulation and Standard EN17 on the “safety of toys”.
The following hazards were identified depending on the type of projectile toy in use:
- External injuries caused by high levels of kinetic energy
- Suffocation caused by easy-to-remove suction Cups
- Hearing damage caused by loud sound levels
There have constantly been toys, and particularly toy pistols that typically use small plastic pellets as munitions, which produce far too high levels of kinetic energy.
There is the danger of external injuries caused when children shoot at each other during play, whether deliberately or not. Eyes are particularly vulnerable. It can be that children shoot each other in the mouth with projectile toys and so all suction-cup projectiles must have a minimum length to ensure that the object can be removed from the throat easily should this occur. It is equally important that the suction cups used in such munitions cannot be removed easily. If not, there is a danger that a suction cup could remain in the throat when removing a projectile and result in further risk of suffocation. Projectile toys are expected to make a “bang”. However, the sound level of these toys is so high that there is a danger of children losing their hearing.
There has been a drop in complaints about projectile pistols. The 2013 Soft Air Gun Regulation (Softairwaffenverordnung) that bans the sale of soft air guns or soft guns to persons under the age of 18 also at markets and similar events seems to be working here. In the past, such soft guns and similar products were often sold openly to children at markets and funfairs as “normal toys.” This particular category of projectile toy often produces extremely high levels of kinetic energy.
Parents and all supervisory persons can only be advised to test the projectile toy themselves before giving them to a child: shoot it once, allow it to be shot at you once (e.g. at your underarm), pull on the suction cups. Did the bang make your ears ring, does the spot where the projectile hit you still hurt and did the suction cup come off? If yes, the toy is not fit for children. Please see 10 tips for toy safety.