A new toy is making parents want to yank their hair out in frustration. They’ve found that Bunchems can get tangled in kids’ manes, forcing parents to literally pull — or cut — their children’s hair in order to get them out.
The toy, designed by the Canadian company Spin Master, is intended to be used for building. The squishy, colorful, circular pieces have interlocking hooks which makes them stick together for building and for easy clean up. Bunchems even made Target’s top list of toys for 2015.
Those same hooks make them prone to getting stuck in hair, and consumers have taken to the internet to warn others.
The reviews on Amazon are littered with complaints. One user called Bunchems “A Toy Spawned From the Darkest Depths of Hell,” advising parents to “Buy this toy for someone if you hate them or their child.”
Arlene Biran, vice president of marketing for Spin Master, told the Wall Street Journal that the problem of the pieces getting entangled in hair and other materials came up early in testing. Spin Master did not immediately return NBC's request for comment.
While there are several warnings on the box and in the instruction manual, Biren said the company is “trying to figure out ways to make it more obvious.”
The company posted a video to YouTube entitled “How to Remove Bunchems From Your Hair” using conditioner and vegetable oil. But some parents have resorted to scissors instead.
A parent on Twitter wrote, "Thank you #bunchems for costing us $25 for the game and $50 for the haircut, my daughter's tears? priceless." An Instagram user posted a photo of her son with the hashtag impromptu haircut.
Some consumers defend the toy.
“Gum can easily get caught in hair, but that's not what it's meant for. … There is absolutely no reason these should be getting stuck in hair. This is the parents' fault. No doubt about it,” wrote one Amazon reviewer.
The toy, which is recommended for ages 4 and up, was originally inspired by prickly burs which can attach themselves to clothes when walking through the woods.
As the holiday season approaches, Bunchems aren’t the only toy raising eyebrows. A Massachusetts-based group called World Against Toys Causing Harm released their annual list of potentially hazardous toys, including Poo-Dough, a foam dart gun, and Jurassic World Velociraptor Claws.
Not included on the list were “hoverboard” scooters which have now been deemed illegal in New York City.
The Toy Industry Association, a non-profit trade association, previously responded to the WATCH list of toys, saying that WATCH sought to "advance their own agendas and garner headlines with their lists of alleged 'unsafe toys.'"
TIA also issued a statement about the Bunchems backlash:
"Bunchems are fun and engaging activity toys that allow kids to use their imagination to build endless creations. They are intended to be adhered to other Bunchems only. The manufacturer clearly communicates this message on the toy packaging and directions, and includes a caution that the product should be kept away from hair because it could become entangled," they said, "As with any toy, families should read and follow the accompanying instructions and be sure to talk to and/or show children the appropriate ways to play with the toy."