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Posts tagged ‘magnets’

The Banned 4. Toys that we’ve seen banned or recalled in the past 10 years.

Spectrum Scientifics opened in 2007 with a load of great science toys for our customers. Since then we have seen many toys come, some toys go, and some toys get pulled from the shelves for one reason or another. Here is a list of the toys we have seen get removed from the toy list.

Note that this list does not include anything recalled due to potential ‘pieces break off and cause choking hazards’ and similar issues. We are discusing products that inherently had an issue that made them unsafe, or were used in an unsafe manner. This in no way claims to be a complete list.Merely the ones we have observed.

Not all of these things were permanently banned, either, as you will see:

Battat Magnetic Construction Toy, 2008

It seemed awesome, metal rods and magnetic balls would be used to put together nifty shapes! Great! Sadly the shiny metal magnetic balls were too tempting to swallow and they were powerful enough that two of them could ‘pinch’ in a kids intestine.

Battat and other companies rereleased this toy design with more secured magnets and non-magnetic steel balls.

Water Balz: 2012

 

Similar to popular Water Marbles, Slippery Spheres, Orbeez, etc, except these Water Balz were big! Much bigger than the little marbles that were Orbeez & Co:

 

 

Sound great? It was! But then an abusive parent shoved one down a child’s throat and it expanded with the moisture,  causing about what you would expect to happen. Toy suppliers volutarily removed the product from the market. You can still get them, but they are sold as chemistry equipment/gardening items, or whatever is needed to not have children as the primary target market.

CSI Fingerprint Kit: 2007-2008

We never carried this item, because we tend to avoid premium show-based kits which often just cost twice the price of better science kits.  But here it was in all its glory: A fingerprint kit with a chemical that was 7% asbestos. Ooops!

This incident, along with several other famous cases (such as the Thomas the Tank Engine Lead Paint incident) showed there were many problems with sourcing products in China. Too many times corners were being cut, and dangerous products being substituted, and other safety issues. Toy companies that imported had to start doing local testing of the products for safety, and quite a few gave up mass-importation. In China, things got very ugly with at least one head of a factory traced back to the safety issues first imprisoning an investigating journalist then hanging himself.

BuckyBalls: 2011

Incredibly popular when they were out, now these have almost been forgotten. Buckyballs were technically never sold as a toy for children, and the manufacturer took pains to try to keep them out of the hands of kids. But the Consumer Product Safety Commission, after adding on multiple sales conditions restrictions,  finally demanded the magnet sets be banned. The reasoning was the same as happened with Battat’s construction toy: kids swallowing the magnets would have them ‘pinch’ in the intestines. The company pretty much disappeared after this ban, but returned this year with a smaller, complient tiny magnetic ball kit.

But the magnet ban? It sent shockwaves through the toy indutry as toy sellers scrambled to remove the powerful rare-earth magnets from various toys.

Eventually, another manufacturer of the magnetic balls sets won a lawsuit against the CPSC and the magnetic balls sets are once again legal. But still cannot be sold to children.

www.spectrum-scientifics.com

 

 

More news on the banned BuckyBalls front, but not from Buckyballs

Ah, some day some Nostalgia program on VH1 will talk about the phenomenon made of sweet spherical magnets known most popularly as BuckyBallsBUckballs

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Iron Filings – Yes, Iron Filings and what to do with them!

While carrying some boxes over to the local post office one of them sadly fell on the ground. One of the Postal employess commented that he hoped what was in the box was not fragile. I answered “Not this one, it is full of Iron Filings.”. “Iron Filings? Why would someone want that?”196

Why indeed?

Iron Filings are not the most exciting product we carry in the store. Its a bag, and it has 1 pound of Iron Filings inside it. Oh, and a label. Gotta have the label saying what it is. That’s it. And yet we sell quite a few of them!

So what are iron filings for? Here’s a few art & science projects that requires them:

1) Magnetic field patterns: Place a magnet (preferably a bar magnet) flat on a large piece of paper and sprinkle the irong filings on the paper around the magnet. The iron filings will line up to to illustrate the ‘field lines’ of the magnetic field of the magnet

2) Making Rust: There are a number of experiments listed out there where you add vinegar to iron filings to show how it oxidizes and makes rust.  Sometimes when you do this you will get a ‘rotten egg’ smell and its not exacly certain why that happens.

3) Budget Ferrofluid: Actual ferrofluid is kinda pricey, so many folks use irong filings sealed in a test tube with light oil (30w) to act as a budget version of ferrofluid. Its efficacy is…debatable.

4) Art Toys: Remember those ‘magnetic doodlers’ where you uses a tip to give a face eyebrows or a mustache? The ‘hair’ was actually made of Iron Filings. Some take this idea a step further

5) Music: Let’s just watch this, shall we?

6) Make a Fuzzy Magnet Pet. Take a powerful rare-earth magnet and drop it into a bag of iron filings to get this nifty fuzzy iron tribble!

Fuzzyironfilingsmagnet

Want to buy Iron Filings?

www.spectrum-scientifics.com

Lazy Tuesday Video Post

So with a vacation the horizon and many things to take care of before then there isn’t much time to put together a thoughtful post about neat science products. So we’ll laze out and show some nifty videos of some of the items we sell in action!

First up is the new Tin Can Cable Car

Then we have the also new Table Top Robot

Our Popular Static Science Kit

The wonderfully named Anti-Gravity Magnetic Levitation  Kit

And finally (for today) Bubble Science!

The Price of Neodymium – Are we stable?

It has been 9 months since we did an article on the price of Rare Earth Magnet material, Neodymium. At that time to price was doing see-saws from 75 to 105 in price per kg: 163

So what has gone on those past 9 months? Not a whole lot, actually. Have a look at the latest movement:

Neodymium7.17Now it may look like there are some dramatic drops in price there if you look closely at the scale you will note the price variations are only $2 per kg. That makes the movement on the chart much less varied than the $30/kg variations it was experiencing last year around this time.

Has anything happened to cause this? Not much that we can determine. Mexico is considering adding itself to the list of Neodymium producers, but this is recent and does not seem to have done much to the price. Demand for electronics has not exactly spiked nor crashed. It may simply be that the wildcat speculators have left the market after making their profits or losing their shirts. The resulting market may simply be a more natural one without the roller-coaster effect speculation can bring.

www.spectrum-scientifics.com

 

 

New Magnetic Toys!

We’ve added a couple of nifty new magnetic toys this week. The first is the Magnetic ‘Sand’ Timer:

Print

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The Price of Rare Earth Neodymium Magnets – Up, Down, Up Down.

So it was less than a few months ago that we discussed the price of Neodymium. Since that time the price continued to fall (it was shown reaching down to 150 $/kg in the graph in that post). So what has the price of Neodymium done since then? Well it seems to be….bouncing.

163 From 150$/kg at the bottom of the last graph the price seemed to continue to drop down to 90 all the way to about 75$/kg. Then it started rising again in the mid-summer. Then just a couple of weeks ago the prices started to fall again. So what happened? Apparently the price rise was based on speculation that a very large order from China’s State Reserver Bureau was in the works, but fell through. China is also experiencing some economic woes in their commodities markets.

Another factor is that other nations besides China have been working on their own Neodymium production. Russia invested heavily this year on rare-earth production to prevent dependence on China’s output. In the US the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Act was passed which is designed to speed up approval of mining operations.

All of these actions are in response to China’s heavy restriction on Neodymiums over the past year that caused a massive upsurge in Neodymium price before it crashed. It is hard to tell if China was flexing its economic muscles and is now paying the price, or if it was legitimately trying to control mining production and pollution issues but ended up stinging the world market.

It is also possible that Neodymium may continue simple rises and falls like any marketplace commodity, no longer rock-bottom but also no longer with sky-high prices.

www.spectrum-scientifics.com