As of yesterday (April Fools Day ironically) Those much loved Spherical Magnet sets are officially banned from sale by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. After years of litigation, arguments, and sometimes even corporate tantrums the CPCS has said they cannot be sold for amusement, or as a toy, even to adults.
The rule, as stated on the CPSC website, says the following
“The final rule establishes requirements for magnet sets and individual magnets that are intended or marketed to be used with or as magnet sets. As defined in the rule, magnet sets are aggregations of separable magnetic objects that are marketed or commonly used as a manipulative or construction item for entertainment, such as puzzle working, sculpture building, mental stimulation, or stress relief. Under the rule, if a magnet set contains a magnet that fits within the CPSC’s small parts cylinder, each magnet in the magnet set must have a flux index of 50 kG2 mm2 or less.”
That flux level is very low, and while most standard magnets fit under it, the rare-earth magnet power needed to give these spherical magnet sets their ‘stickiness’ won’t be reached.
So does this mean my old set of BuckyBalls is illegal?
No, the law does not outlaw any magnets. It does make them illegal to sell. Enjoy what you have, they cannot take them away from you. But they can prevent you from replacing them if you lose them.
Couldn’t you sell them as not being a toy?
I don’t doubt that some may try to do this, but really there is not much utilitarian use for magnetic sphere sets. You could sell small numbers as an artists supply perhaps, but trying to call them anything else will probably not fool the CPSC.
Are they really dangerous?
There is no danger as long as you:
a) Do not put them in your mouth
b) Keep them away from children who may put them in their mouth
Not necessarily in that order.
How can the CPSC do this?
They have jurisdiction over consumer products. Which is a lot of things. In fact it is everything we use every day. Most of the time their decisions make a lot of sense. In this case, their decision is not a popular one.
Can anything be done?
You can give the CPSC feedback, but do not expect them to go back on their decision.