Entries in Buckyballs (2)


Buckyballs, Buckycubes, Popular Magnetic Desktoys, Discontinued

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Maxfield & Oberton, the maker of Buckyballs and Buckycubes, popular office toys made up of small magnetic beads that can be molded into different shapes, is discontinuing those products after continued pressure from the federal government.

Marketed to adults as a stress reliever and a cure for cubicle boredom, more than 2 million Buckyballs have been sold in the United States.

"Due to baseless and relentless legal badgering by a certain four letter government agency, it's time to bid a fond farewell to the world's most popular adult desk toys, Buckyballs and Buckycubes. That's right: We're sad to say that Balls & Cubes have a one-way ticket to the Land-of-Awesome-Stuff-You-Should-Have-Bought-When-You-Had-the-Chance," said a statement on the company's website Wednesday.

That agency is the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which said an estimated 1,700 people have been hospitalized in the past three years after ingesting parts from these kinds of magnet toys. As a result, the CPSC filed a lawsuit in July against Maxfield & Oberton, calling Buckyballs "hazardous" because the strong magnets "contain a defect in the design, packaging, warnings and instructions, which pose a substantial risk of injury to the public."

In the lawsuit, the CPSC demanded that Buckyballs and several high-power magnetic toys from other companies be recalled immediately.

"In response to a request from CPSC staff, a number of retailers have voluntarily agreed to stop selling Buckyballs, Buckycubes and similar products manufactured by other companies. CPSC staff called upon these retailers to cease distribution of high-powered, manipulative magnetic products after dozens of young children and teenagers swallowed multiple magnets, which connected inside their gastrointestinal tracts and caused internal injuries requiring surgery. The online marketplace eBay has also agreed to implement steps to remove listings by sellers for these items," according to a statment from the CPSC.

Andrew Frank, a spokesman for Maxfield & Oberton, said over the past couple of weeks the decision was made to "sell out what we've got" and "focus on other products," but that the company would "continue to fight the action that is against us."

"Maxfield and Oberton will continue to fight the CPSC's effort to put the company out of business and denies its products violate any CPSC standard or other legal requirement," Frank said.

When asked if abandoning Buckyballs and Buckycubes meant that Maxfield & Oberton was admitting the product was a danger, Frank said, "We maintain our strong opposition to the CPSC's claim that our vigorous safety program and the five warnings on our product's packaging are insufficient. We market our products only toward adults. Unfortunately, the CPSC will not consider our proposal to work together to launch an educational campaign to complement our own efforts."

Buckyballs CEO Craig Zucker told Nightline in September that the company had been challenging the proposed ban because, Zucker said, Buckyballs were not defective and were marketed as an office toy to adults, clearly not intended for or marketed to children.

"We're not in Happy Meals. We're not on Saturday morning cartoons. We're in adult stores -- places you would go to find something for your dad on Father's Day," Zucker said at the time.

In the wake of the proposed ban, Zucker launched an online campaign called "Save Our Balls," which sparked a national debate on the role of big government. He also added that he had taken steps to educate consumers about magnet safety and pointed out that Buckyballs' packaging carries clear warnings to parents.

Warning labels are "on the top, the side, the carrying case. It's on the instructions," he said. "I would say it's impossible to miss the warnings. They're all over the place."

While Maxfield & Oberton is purging its inventory, the company said "there are still a few thousand sets of Buckyballs, Buckycubes and Chromatics in stock and available for purchase online."

Frank added that the company was donating 20 percent of its profits from any Buckyballs and Buckycubes purchased until Friday to victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Buckyballs Maker Appeals to Obama for Help

Consumer Product Safety Commission(WASHINGTON) -- The Consumer Product Safety Commission thinks Buckyballs are so dangerous that the agency did something a few days ago that it hasn’t done in 11 years: it sued the maker of the adult toy to have them removed from the market.

On Thursday morning, Craig Zucker, the CEO and founder of Buckyballs, took out a full page ad in the Washington Post, asking President Obama to intervene.

“Dear President Obama, I know that you support small business and now I need your help to save ours from being shut down by the CPSC,” Zucker wrote in the open letter.

Buckyballs are very tiny and very powerful magnets.  Young children sometimes think they are candy and try to eat them.  Older children who want tongue piercings without actually getting their tongues pierced, place one on the top of the tongue and another on the bottom.  But when they get loose, they can travel through the body, tearing holes in the walls of the intestines and ripping the lining of the stomach.

Buckyballs do carry very powerful warnings, but the CPSC says that is not enough.  A group of doctors recently showed some members of Congress pictures of the damage they can do to bodies of young people.  They strongly support the ban.

But Zucker says to the president, “It feels unfair, unjust and well, just un-American.  We will Fight Back Vigorously.  But we could sure use your help!”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio