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The yo-yo is one of the oldest toys still commonly popular among youth today. First made popular in the 1920s, the yo-yo simply consists of two pieces of wood, metal, or plastic connected with an axel. String is wrapped around the axel and the middle finger is placed into a slip-knot at the end of the string. The objective is to make the yo-yo travel up and down the string with a flick of the wrist. Many tricks and stunts can be performed with a yo-yo. A number of variations on the original yo-yo have come onto the market, making the toy a popular item with kids of all ages.

Yo-Yo Water Ball Toys

One of the more recent variations to the original yo-yo is the yo-yo water ball toy. The toys are made from a soft, rubbery material and consist of a ball filled with liquid. A stretchy elastic cord is attached to the ball and a finger loop is located at the end. When the middle finger is placed in the loop and the ball is flicked with the wrist, the toy is capable of stretching more than 3 feet.

CPSC States Yo-Yo Water Ball Toys Present a Slight Strangulation Risk

Controversy over yo-yo water ball toys and their safety led the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to conduct an investigation on the popular toy in 2003. According to the CPSC report, yo-yo water balls may present a slight strangulation risk, but the risk is low. It stated that the yo-yo water ball toy did not meet mandated standards for a recall, and the product posed little risk of strangulation. Of the reported cases of the cord wrapping around a child’s neck, either the child or an adult easily removed it. In each instance, the child was swinging the yo-yo ball toy over their head like a lasso. There had been further concerns expressed over the toxic level of the liquid contained in the yo-yo water ball, as well as flammability concerns of the toy. In addition to the initial investigation on strangulation hazards, tests were performed on toxicity of the liquid inside the ball, as well as flammability of the toy. No toxicity or flammability was found, and the yo-yo water balls were determined to be safe. The CPSC stated that it would continue further investigations as incident reports were received about the toy, but that the toy did not meet Congressional mandates for a recall.

Hazards of Yo-Yos

Yo-Yos may pose a strangulation hazard as a result of the string becoming wrapped around a child’s neck if it is swung above the head like a lasso. In addition, yo-yos can present a choking hazard in the event that it breaks apart and small pieces are revealed.

Concerning yo-yo water ball toys, 186 reports were received in which the cord of the yo-yo water ball wrapped around a child’s neck. In every case, the cord was easily and successfully removed. There were seven instances of broken blood vessels on the neck, scalp, ears, cheeks, eyes, and eyelids.

Examples of Defective Yo-Yo Toys

Examples of yo-yos that have either been recalled due to defects, or otherwise taken from store shelves, include:

  • Light Up Yo-Yo

The Ruby Restaurant Group, of Newport Beach, California recalled approximately 200,000 light-up yo-yo toys because the two halves of the yo-yo can separate, revealing small parts that could pose a choking hazard to children. One report was received about the toy coming apart. The yo-yos were manufactured in China and distributed at various Ruby’s Diners between February 2006 and March 2006 in Washington, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Hawaii, and California. The small, 2-inch clear plastic yo-yos were red, blue, or green with “Ruby’s Diner” printed on them.

  • Yo-Yo Water Ball Toys

Despite the investigation and report from the CPSC that yo-yo water ball toys posed only a slight strangulation hazard, and did not meet mandatory requirements for recall, many major distributors pulled the yo-yo from the shelves in response to consumer fears and demand. Some of the retailers included Toys “R” Us, Saks, and Walgreens.