The 'Dirty Dozen' violent toys
Watchdog group puts Power Rangers, WWE action figures, Ninja Turtles on its black list.
November 24, 2003: 11:15 AM EST
By Parija Bhatnagar, CNN/Money Staff Writer
NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers and World Wrestling Entertainment action figures are three of the brands on this year's "Dirty Dozen" most violent toys, a children's advocacy group said Monday.
This is the eighth annual list of most violent toys compiled by the Maryland-based public interest group The Lion & Lamb Project, which warns parents what not to buy for their children for the holidays.
Executive Director Daphne White said the group is primarily concerned about violent messages stemming not only from toys but also from television, movies, videos, music lyrics, arcade games and video games.
"We're worried about violence being marketed to children as fun and entertaining," White told CNN/Money. "Our list is a little different this year because it highlights the 'brands' that are marketed to children through a combination of toys, video games, DVDs and other items."
"Our children are now moved along from the cartoon violence in 'Ninja Turtles' to the cold-blooded murder in 'The Matrix Reloaded' in just a few short years," White said, adding some of the toys in the group's list have violent themes and are marketed at kids as young as age 3.
Responding to the Lion&Lamb list, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) said in a statement released Monday that "pre-holiday news conferences regarding various alleged hazards in children's toys have become an annual event at which some groups try to establish a direct, causal connection between societal violence and specific types of toys."
The TIA's response also included comments from child development expert Jeffrey Goldstein, author of "Why We Watch: The Attractions of Violent Entertainment," claiming that accusations about individual toys promoting violence does not stand up to academic scrutiny.
Lion & Lamb alleges that the Casey Jones action figure from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles promotes a vigilante code. The message on the toy's box says, "Judge, jury and enforcer! ... Casey has a unique sense of what's right or wrong and you better be on the side of right or he'll slap shot you upside your head with his hockey stick."
The group also took issue with Power Rangers Ninja Storm video game from California-based THQ Inc (THQI: Research, Estimates).
"Like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, this is another television-generated brand with the message that the best way to solve problems is through violence," White said, noting that while Power Rangers are portrayed as good guys they solve problems by fighting.
Hong Kong-based Playmates, maker of Ninja Turtles action figures, and video game maker THQ could not immediately be reached for comment.
Also on the list are the WWE Training Day action figures from Jakks Pacific (JAKK: Research, Estimates) and the WWE Smackdown! video game also from THQ.
Jakks Pacific could not be reached for comment.
The group also warned parents about "The Hulk", "The Matrix" and "X-Men" movies, DVDs and related toys and video games.
About "The Hulk" toy, the group said the stuffed green toy looks "friendly and harmless as the Jolly Green Giant but is based on a PG-13 movie about rage."
The X-Men video game is marketed to children age 6 and up, but has been released along with a PG-13 movie, Lion&Lamb said, noting the video game box urges users to "use lethal combo attacks" and "prepare to meet your makers."
"The Matrix" video game is rated T for teens, yet is based on an R-rated adult movie, the group said. "This game features a "sniper mode" and allows players to "ride shotgun, shooting from passenger's seat," it said.