Rainbow Loom knockoffs could contain carcinogens

08/13/2014 9:19 AM

08/14/2014 4:17 PM

Choon Ng, who invented the popular Rainbow Loom children’s toy, has one more reason to dislike the cheap knockoff versions of his toy that began to be sold after his colorful rubber band invention flooded the toy market.

A British laboratory has discovered that the material in some of the illegal knockoff versions may contain cancer-causing chemicals, Mother Jones magazine has reported.

Laboratory researchers also found that the real Rainbow Loom toys – rubber band bracelets – don’t contain those dangerous chemicals, the magazine reported.

Ng, a Detroit-area mechanical engineer, created the toy in the past five years, with advice from his daughters and their child friends.

He noticed that cheap and poor-quality knockoff toys began to appear in the toy market soon after the real thing began to sell at Michaels stores and on Amazon. Most of the knockoffs attempted to replicate his invention exactly, right down to realistic re-creations of the images on the toy boxes.

He was displeased, not only because the knockoffs are stealing from him, but because they were of poor quality, with plastic parts that could become sharp and dangerous to children if broken. He had engineered those parts so they didn’t hurt anyone, even if broken.

“The Rainbow Loom craze is catching on around the world now,” Ng said in an e-mail on Wednesday. “Unfortunately, most copycats are only interested in profiting from this craze.”

He said his staff forwarded the magazine article to him.

“I think the consumers should mindful when (it comes to) loom band products,” he wrote in the e-mail. “We wish that everyone can enjoy making rubber band crafts safely.”

Ng was an international student from Malaysia who graduated from Wichita State University. His brother Yeow of Wichita, also a Wichita State graduate, helped Choon test some of his engineering by creating prototypes of Choon’s designs on 3D printers at WSU’s National Institute for Aviation Research. Yeow Ng has also run the toy’s online store in Wichita. Both brothers have said the best way to avoid buying a knock-off is to order the real thing from their online store.

The Toy Industry Association in February named Rainbow Loom the Toy of the Year. The toy got more national publicity when television talk show host Jimmy Kimmel wore a suit on his show made entirely from Rainbow Loom bracelets.

Reach Roy Wenzl at 316-268-6219 or rwenzl@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @roywenzl.

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