This should come as no surprise to anybody paying attention to all the magnet-related toy safety issues in the news over the last couple of years. Let me stress that LEGO has never, to my knowledge, recalled any of its toys that include magnets due to safety concerns. This appears to be a proactive change that anticipates future legislation in one or more of LEGO’s markets.
Here’s the word from Billund:
Due to a safety accident with another toy producers product, the LEGO Group is expecting a ban of small parts that contain magnets in the USA and the EU from 2009. As a consequence the LEGO Group has decided to stop selling products which contain magnets in small parts to obey already now the new rules and make no compromise with product safety.
This affects mainly 2 products – the LEGO fridge magnets and the LEGO train magnet couplings.
The train magnets will be re-designed as you can see on the pictures and we expect the new magnets in the boxes from August. LEGO Train sets packaged before August will still contain the existing magnets. The new LEGO train magnet element will be visually different from the existing train magnet element but due to that the magnet can rotate in the plastic cover and the clutch power will be as strong as at the old element the function will be identical and fully compatible with the existing train magnet elements.
The LEGO fridge magnets will also be re-designed and the new version is expected to be available for sale end of 2008.
Jan Beyer, LEGO Community Development