The New York Times recently reported that effective Dec. 19 Maxfield & Oberton will stop selling the popular magnetic toys known as Buckyballs. In their statement they said the decision came about following a “long-running and costly legal dispute” with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which said that Buckyballs and similar products made from rare-earth magnets were dangerous because children have been severely injured after swallowing them.
Sold in sets of 100 or more balls, cubes, bars, and other shapes as adult desk playthings, the toys are made of the rare-earth mineral neodymium. These new magnets are at least 15 times more powerful than standard magnets. When ingested, they can rip through the stomach or intestines causing serious harm.
Maxfield & Oberton was one of two companies that refused to comply with the CPSC's move to ban the sale of these magnets. Zen Magnets was the other company that contested the CPSC's order. Its founder said that the company might sell the magnets individually, rather than in packs, as a way to avoid federal regulations, according to a report in today's New York Times. Earlier, 11 other manufacturers and importers said they would comply with the CPSC's order.