Voracious doll taken off US market


THE US toy maker Mattel Inc has announced it will stop making the Cabbage Patch Kids Snacktime Kids dolls and offer a $40 (£25) refund to owners following reports of children getting their hands and hair "eaten".

The dolls, a battery operated version of Cabbage Patch dolls that were a big hit in 1984, are designed to "eat" plastic french fries and other fake food and deposit them in the doll's backpack.

Recently, however, safety officials have received dozens of reports about the dolls chewing girls' hair or fingers. The doll is not equipped with an off-switch and in some cases emergency workers had to dismantle the doll to rescue children.

Mattel said neither it nor the US Consumer Product Safety Commission had identified a serious safety hazard associated with the dolls in tests.

"Nonetheless, we remain deeply concerned with the satisfaction of all our consumers and in maintaining their long-standing confidence in the safety and value of our toys," said Ms Jill Barad, Mattel's chiefs executive officer.

"Our job is to bring joy to children's lives. If any of our products are causing concerns, we are committed to responding in a responsible manner."

Since the introduction of the dolls in the US last autumn, more than 500,000 "Snacktimes" have been sold, making it one of the most popular items of the season.

A spokesman for the company said he did not know if Mattel would be forced to take a one-time charge against earnings to pay for the refund programme.