- Associated Press - Saturday, December 11, 2010

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A federal agency reversed itself Friday and said lead-laced Wizard of Oz and superhero drinking glasses are, in fact, for adults _ not children’s products subject to a previously announced recall.

The stunning about-face came after the Consumer Product Safety Commission said last month the glasses were children’s products and thus subject to strict federal lead limits.

Lab testing by The Associated Press found lead in the colored decorations up to 1,000 times the federal maximum for children’s products. The CPSC has no limits on lead content on the outside of adult drinking glasses.

“A premature statement was made regarding two sets of glasses identified in (AP’s) story that has now been determined to be inaccurate,” said agency spokesman Scott Wolfson. It was Wolfson who said the day after the AP published its investigation Nov. 21 that the two sets of four glasses each _ one featuring characters including Superman and Wonder Woman, the other Dorothy and other characters from the classic Oz movie _ were children’s products and that the agency would investigate them.

Soon after, the importer of the glasses, Utah-based Vandor LLC, said it was pulling them from the market and would work with the agency to formally recall them.

Wolfson said CPSC staff didn’t have the glasses in hand when the agency declared them children’s products.

“After thoughtful analysis by child behavior experts at CPSC, it has been determined that the glasses are not children’s products,” Wolfson said Friday. He added that “the size, weight, packaging and price of the glasses sampled by CPSC are consistent with glasses more commonly used for consumption of adult beverages.”

But Wolfson went on to say: “These glasses are not primarily intended for use by a child 12 or younger. … Since these glasses are not intended for use by young children, it is recommended that parents not provide them to children to use.”

The 10-ounce glasses clearly appeal to kids, according to the man who wrote the guidelines that the agency still uses to determine what kinds of items children of different ages use.

“Kids would choose this glass over a plain glass,” said Jim Therrell, a professor at Central Michigan University. “If you consider that they are all movie based, they’re all fantasy based, the fantasies would probably range in appeal to ages 4 to 5 at the low end up through 11, 12.”

Under federal law, an item is a “children’s product” if it is “primarily intended” for those 12 and under.

Wolfson said the agency used Therrell’s guidelines in the new ruling that the glasses are adult products.

The importer of the Chinese-made glasses had insisted they were targeted to adult collectors. AP bought them at a Warner Brothers Studios store in Burbank, Calif.; at Warner Brothers’ online store, they were sold next to children’s T-shirts and lunchboxes, while they were touted as perfect for kids on another website.

In an e-mail Monday to AP, Vandor spokeswoman Meryl Rader wrote that the company was working with CPSC’s Office of Compliance but didn’t have specifics on the recall plan. “The company’s trade customers were notified of the pending voluntary recall on Nov. 23 and will be further notified once recall specifics have been developed and approved by the CPSC,” she said.

Rader did not reply to e-mails and a telephone call Friday asking whether the company would go through with the recall.

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