It’s been just under a year since we had an update about the CPSC’s favorite target: Those little spherical magnets commonly known by the brand name of BuckyBalls.
As you may recall, BuckyBalls came on the market a few years back, made quite a splash, but were then hounded by the Consumer Product Ssafety Commission to the point where these magnets were effectively banned. Another spherical magnet supplier, known as NeoCube, also fell by the wayside, but a 3rd company, the almost unknown Zen Magnets (who apparently were first in with the product but last in overall sales due to BuckyBalls and NeoCube’s aggressive wholesaling campaign.) made the effort to fight back at the CPSC and actually won their court case.
Sadly, that was not the end of it. Zen Magnets has spent the better part of the past year just getting things in order for a new rollout of the classic spherical magnet product. Meanwhile they are bracing for another possible round of legal battles with the CPSC.
It might not come to that. The CPCS commissioner is on record as saying the following:
“We’re doing this without taking the time to learn the lessons about why we failed the first time, or if there’s any need for the rule… I think this is a factor of pure ego, and this agency has taken the thoughtful opinions of the 10th circuit personally, and we just wanna win for winning’s sake…”
The CPSC removed the rule on 3/1, as ordered by the court. But almost immediately the commission voted to implement a new rule regarding magnets. The precedent is set, however, so a rule as draconian as the last one would be lost in court even faster.
Meanwhile, what happened to the other companies? No idea what happened to NeoCube – their inventory was sold Zen Magnets (which may have caused them quite a bit of a legal headache) and we can assume they are long gone. Zen Magnets is in position to restablish spherical magnet sales. The folks who made BuckyBalls? Well, while Zen Magnets was fighting the legal fight against the CPSC they released a set of tiny rare earth magnets that they sarcastically named ‘Compliance Magnets’
Perhaps taking a hint from these Compliance Magnets, the makers of BuckyBalls released SPEKS. A set of rare earth micromagnets that is also compliant with the CPSC’s old rule.
Time will tell if they succeed with this product. Having personally handled such ultra-tiny magnets I find they had some appeal, but lacked the fidget potential the classic larger Spherical Magnets posessed.
As for our store? Well, we have our own (as the top image shows), and can sell them until another ban comes down. Sadly we can only sell these in-store at the moment.