By Jos Weale
A furious mum claims her daughter was ‘traumatised’ after she endured a seven-hour battle to free popular spiked building toys from her head – that knotted her hair so badly it broke a crying hairdresser’s scissors.
Sandra Gow from Lybster, north Scotland, tried using conditioner and oil to remove the Bunchems from seven-year-old Eva’s hair to no avail.
In desperation Sandra rang a hairdresser pal who invited them to her salon where it supposedly took two hairdressers more than five hours to remove the toys from Eva’s hair last Tuesday (April 11).
Toy manufacturer Spin Master Toys said they are only intended to be adhered to other Bunchems and carry a warning to keep away from hair as they ‘may become entangled’.
Sandra, 45, said: “At one point there was a matt in her hair that was about three centimetres wide was so tough that it broke the hairdresser’s scissors.
“One of the girls had to use her teeth to get some of them out.
“It took two hairdresser five-and-a-half hours to get them all out. If it hadn’t have been for my wonderful hairdressers she wouldn’t have any hair left.
“Eva was in pain and crying all the way through. We were all really upset, the hairdressers had tears streaming down their faces while they were trying to get them out.
“Her hair is really important to her, she always refuses to get it cut, it’s like princess hair to her.”
Mum-of-three Sandra said she had no reservations when Eva’s brother Michael, 28, bought her the popular toy for Christmas.
Sandra said it was only after her daughter accidently caught the squishy building balls in her hair that she saw concerns about the product being shared on social media.
Sandra, who runs an engineering company with husband William Robertson, said: “I hadn’t heard that much about them, I just knew they were one of the toys to have at Christmas.
“Eva had been playing with her friend and it got dropped on her head. They’d tried to pull them out but they got more and more stuck, then they started to panic trying to get them out.
“When I got home from work it had just happened and was panicking and starting to cry.
“I Googled how to try and get them out and we tried putting conditioner and oil on her hair, but that didn’t work.
“Eventually I just felt sick, and I was thinking ‘How on earth are we going to get these out?
“Luckily our hairdresser is a friend of mine and I gave them a call, and they said to bring her in.”
“She has fine hair but she has a lot of it. She’s grown her hair since she was a baby, it was down past her bottom.
“It doesn’t look as bad from a distance, but close up you can see all the damage.”
Returning home late that night, Sandra says little Eva was devastated to be left with thinned hair that had to have six inches lobbed off.
And the upset mum says her daughter has been left ‘traumatised’ by the ordeal and has been sick and unusually reserved ever since.
Sandra said: “We got home at 11 o’clock, she didn’t get to bed until 12 o’clock, and she was up at five in the morning with sickness and diarrhoea.
“I’m sure it could be the side effects of the trauma. She’s been in bed all week – she’s been very, very quiet.
“She’s usually bubbly and always dancing about and doing cartwheels. I’ve never seen her like this.
“Hair means a lot to a lot of women, let alone a seven-year-old girl.
“She’s off school at the moment for half term but she keeps saying that people will laugh at her back at school because of her hair.”
Sandra was quick to bin the toys, but was disturbed to see the daughter’s reaction when she spotted a stray Bunchem on the floor.
Sandra says she took a day off work to take care of Eva before contacting toy manufacturer Spin Master Toys.
Sandra said: “I threw them in the bin as soon as we got home.
“There was one on her floor when we got back, she said ‘Mum, look’ and started to cry when she saw it.
“I was so upset. I took a day to calm down afterwards before I emailed Spin Master. But I got a very generic email as a response.”
The mum says she’s now keen to spread the word on what happened in a bid to to warn others.
Sandra said: “I just don’t understand how they can be marketed as a child’s toy. I looked on the box and there was a warning not to use on hair.
“Spin Master directed me to a video that showed how to remove them without cutting off hair.
“But I don’t understand – if something needs so many warnings then it’s not a child’s toy.
“They’re not suitable for a child to play with.
“I hope this can raise some awareness and stop it happening to others.
“Since the pictures were shared on social media I’ve had so many mums message me saying
that they’ve got rid of them now too.”
A Spin Master Toys spokesman said: “Since Spin Master launched Bunchems in August 2015, we have received an overwhelmingly positive response from children, parents and industry partners.
“Bunchems are colourful, soft, tactile balls that make endless creations, however, they are intended only to be adhered to other Bunchems.
“This is particularly important for parents and caregivers to understand.
“The Bunchems packaging and directions clearly state: “Caution: Keep away from hair. May become entangled.”
“Immediately after the product was released in 2015 and after hearing hair entanglement feedback from a few consumers, we quickly developed instructional videos for our YouTube channel and website as a way to proactively educate people on how to play with the product and how to remove Bunchems from hair if they do get tangled.
“We are also very careful to avoid depicting any creations in our marketing materials that show an end result that could be ‘worn’ or placed on or near hair.
“The vast majority of calls our customer care team receives are from people trying to find the product at retail.
“We want everyone to enjoy the endless play Bunchems provides, and to ensure safe fun, we encourage consumers to follow the directions carefully and properly.”