By Sandra E. Garcia
When it comes to feel-good, classic games there are the old reliables: Operation, Twister and Monopoly, among others. Then there is Cut the Wire, a game that asks children to defuse a toy bomb before it “detonates.”
The game, which was recommended for children ages 6 and up, sets a timer, and players have to defuse the faux bomb before time runs out. If a player cuts the wrong wire with the toy wire cutter, the game, which resembles banded sticks of dynamite, sounds an alarm and an explosion noise as it lights up and vibrates.
Parents expressed concern about the game, which comes packaged in a box with a background that looks like flames in an explosion. Critics said it was difficult to imagine promoting the game when there was so much real-life violence in the world involving bombs.
“So, we’re going to give children toy bombs to defuse. Because apparently this is fun for the whole family. How about ‘Duck And Cover: the Biological Attack Version’ next?” a Twitter user, Michael Bouck, tweeted.
Another Twitter user with the handle Cardboard Icons tweeted a photo of the toy and wrote: “So this was a real toy?! A game in which the child has to cut the wire on a bomb?!” and added “#evenmy8yearoldknowsthatsodd.”
At least two retailers, Walmart and Target, said they stopped selling the game. A Target spokeswoman said the retailer removed it from its shelves in the fall. A Walmart spokeswoman said the company appreciated “the concerns that have been raised regarding this item” and that it had no plans to reorder it.
YULU, the game’s manufacturer, said it thought children would see themselves as heroes. It said it stopped making Cut the Wire in October, though it was still for sale on Amazon as of Monday.
“We created Cut the Wire as a fun strategy game for kids where the object is to defuse the device and be the hero,” said Jochem van Rijn, the company’s president. “We’re very sorry for any concern the game may have caused and, therefore, we are no longer shipping new product in the market in North America.”
In Florida, a lieutenant at the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office received a box Tuesday with Cut the Wire inside and a note that read “boom,” The Ledger, a local newspaper, reported. The Sheriff’s Office was partially evacuated, and a bomb squad was called.
Officials discovered a deputy sent the toy to his colleague as a joke. The deputy has since resigned.
Throughout the years, consumers have seen toys such as Barbies evolve through different eras, but toys associated with violence, such as guns, have not.
“Toy guns, particularly cap guns, were incredibly popular in the 1950s and 1960s, especially after the war in North Korea,” said Richard Gottlieb, founder of Global Toy Experts, a consulting company for toy manufacturers.
Gottlieb said it appeared that “adults tend to freight toys with meaning that a child may or may not share or understand.”
“If you take the word ‘bomb’ out of it, it is a good problem-solving game that invites mental and fine-motor dexterity,” he said.