There’s a new toy craze among children in China that’s causing headaches to parents and school officials for its inherent danger. Powerful mini-crossbows that shoot toothpicks and needles are the latest fad for schoolkids in Asia’s largest economy.
Shenzhen and Qingdao and other cities have already resorted to banning the sales of the $1 palm-sized contraptions which are strong enough to puncture soda cans, apples and cardboard, depending on the projectile.
The craze started in the southwest city of Chengdu but spread fast to China’s east coast and even across the border to Hong Kong. In the more distant but still China territory Macau, police had even issued a warning on Tuesday saying that using the crossbows might constitute a criminal offense.
There have been no widespread reports of serious injuries yet caused by the mini crossbows but concerned parents across China have been coordinating with school officials to petition for a national ban on the new toy craze.
One social media user on the messaging forum hupu.com seems to be in panic with the post: “People getting blinded will become commonplace, must ban!” Another was incredulous: “What was the inventor of this thing thinking?”
China’s top two most popular e-commerce sites Taobao and JD.com have responded to the adult backlash in recent days by blocking sales. Searches for “crossbow” or “toothpick crossbow” are registering empty results.
It is not clear, however, if kids continue to have access to the toys being sold in markets, malls or in the streets near their schools, while a nationwide ban is not yet in place.