Usually when everyone’s talking about a new toy right before the holidays it’s a good thing. In the case of Bunchems, it’s anything but.
Angry parents have stormed onto social media and review sites to warn one another about what one parent is calling “the perfect toy for that child you hate.”
Wrote another: “Burn them!”
Kids love playing with Bunchems, a building toy that not only has made Target’s top holiday toy list but is up for the industry award for best activity toy of the year.
The problem: This hot toy can turn children’s hair into a hot mess. The marble-size, rainbow-colored balls with the soft, springy hooks not only squish and stick together to form fun creations, but they can cling like cockleburs in hair, causing parents to spend hours, in some cases, to remove them. Frustrated parents have tried everything from conditioners and coconut oil to crochet hooks and X-Acto knives.
A warning on the box and the toy’s Amazon.com listing cautions buyers to keep Bunchems away from hair because they may become entangled.
That’s an understatement, parents say.
“Horrible, horrible, horrible toy for kids,” wrote Ethan Benoit in a scathing review on Amazon.com. “I just spend the last TWO AND A HALF hours (absolutely, 100 percent not an exaggeration) attempting to remove 14 of these bastard balls out of my daughter’s hair. … They bring pain and misery, tears, fighting, broken and ripped hair.”
Tangled Bunchems moved another reviewer past frustration to thoughts of violence.
“If I had one wish it would be to throat punch the person that invented these!!!” wrote A. Wild.
Calls to Canadian toy maker Spin Master, the makers of Bunchems, were not returned. The company has posted a 48-second video on its support page: “How to get Bunchems out of hair.” (Hint: “If they aren’t budging, apply a little bit more conditioner.”) More than 285,000 people have watched the video on YouTube since the company posted it in August.
The video has not quieted the complaints.
“Now I remember why we didn’t order them,” said Jonny Girson, owner of the Learning Tree, which has stores in Prairie Village and Leawood. “Toys are supposed to be fun and creative and not wreak havoc in a household.”