China

China cracks down on toothpick crossbow toys

Toothpick crossbow Image copyright 1688.com

If you think fidget spinners can be dangerous toys, wait until you come across a kid playing with a toothpick crossbow - and then take cover.

The new gadget toy appears to be selling like hotcakes in China - much to the horror of concerned parents across the country.

The tiny crossbows fire toothpicks powerful enough to break cardboard, apples or even soda cans.

Some cities worried the toys can cause serious injury have now banned them.

According to Chinese media, cities like Chengdu, Kunming and Harbin have already banned sales of the toy, while parents in Hong Kong are also raising concerns.

Image copyright 1688.com
Image caption This bow sold on 1688.com costs as little as five yuan if bought in bulk

The small crossbows come as a cheap plastic version for about four yuan (£0.5; $0.6) while the metal versions of the mini weapon cost around 10 yuan.

They are sold in shops and on the streets near schools and are also available online.

Still available online

Reacting to criticism from parents, the country's leading online platforms JD.com and Taobao.com have said they won't allow the toys to be sold any more.

While they are indeed no longer available on those two online shops, they can still be found on other websites like 1688.com, which like Taobao belongs to online retail giant Alibaba.

According to Chinese media, police are also cracking down on shops near schools selling the dangerous gadgets.

Image copyright 1688.com
Image caption Retailers offering the bows online post pictures of how powerful they are

Videos on social media showing the crossbows in action have them breaking into cardboard, apples or raw meat.

If the toothpick is replaced with a metal needle, it can even crack through a can of soda.

While the toys do come with a note saying they should not be aimed at people or animals, the packaging of one product claims it can even fight cockroaches, which many might say is no bad thing.

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