The missile-launching Battlestar Galactica toys that were voluntarily recalled by Mattel Inc. more than a month ago still are being sold and present a danger to children, a consumer group warned yesterday.
The Massachusetts-based Action for Children's Television (ACT) held a press conference here yesterday in preparation for its testimony in the Federal Trade Commission children's advertising hearings next week, and called upon the Consumer Product Safety Commission to crack down on missile-launching toys.
Citing hospital emergency room treatment of "more than 1,000 children during 1978 for injuries caused by projectile toys," ACT President Peggy Charren said her organization would petition the CPSC to regulate the safety and design of such toys.
She said the Battlestar Galactica incident "points to the total ineffectiveness of industry self-regulation."
CPSC head Susan King said yesterday that her agency worked closely with Mattel in an attempt to get the company to voluntarily recall the four toys in question, but added "it is clear more followup action is now required."
On Jan. 12, Mattel announced that it had received reports of 12 accidents related to the spring-loaded launchers, -- one of them resulting in the death of a 4-year-old Atlanta boy who fired a missile into his mouth -- and therefore was recalling all of the missiles on the toys that already had been sold.
It also recalied those toys still on the shelves for a "modification" that would disarm the missile-launching apparatus in all models sold in the future.
As part of its recall, which was undertaken with the cooperation of the CPSC, Mattel took out large, onetime advertisements in 28 newspapers in the top 10 U.S. markets offering to send a metal toy car, known as "Hot Wheels," to any consumers who sent their missiles back to the company.
The four models covered under the recall are all varieties of the Galactica toy: "Colonial Viper," "Colonial Scarab," "Colonial Stellar Probe" and "Cylon Raider."
First released last summer, the four were best sellers during the Christmas season. Some 2 million units went at prices ranging from $6 to $9 each.
Besides the publicly announced recall in January, Mattel also "began telephoning key accounts to ask them to take the products off the shelves, and sent out 1,00 mailgrams to the buying departments of our major accounts," Mattel spokesman Spencer Boise said yesterday.
"We also sent 20,000 letters to every account that had placed an order for any Battlestar Galactica toys," Boise said. In addition, "We did field checks three weeks ago and found that only about 2 percent of the total distribution of the toys was still out," he said.
But Charren said she was able to purchase all four of the toys at Boston area stores as late as last week, "with the projectiles still in place."
She also said that despite the Galactica incident, "Other manufacturers continue to design, advertise and sell toys that launch projectiles similar to those in the Battlestar Galactica line," and that the situation warranted stronger government regulation.
CPSC chief King said "we have had some concern about the lack of follow-up action by Mattel."
King said the agency originally agreed to let the company take a voluntary action because "that was the fastest way to get the toys off the shelf." Any attempt at a government-ordered recall would have taken much more time, she said.