Well, now they’re shooting Orbeez. Yup, keep reading to learn how a popular children's toy is now resulting in criminal charges.
What are Orbeez?
Orbeez are small, colorful water pellets or beads marketed toward children to help them engage in sensory play. They came onto the toy scene in 2009 thanks to Maya Toys, but were sold to toy giant Spin Master in 2019, according to this news release.
Each of the individual Orbeez is made of acrylic acid, sodium hydroxide, super-absorbent polymers, and color pigmentation. Orbeez grow in size when placed in water, and shrink when exposed to sunlight. As it turns out, the idea behind Orbeez was first introduced in the early 1960s by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for agricultural purposes (water retention in soil), per Motherhood HQ.
Today, Spin Master is still the manufacturer of Orbeez. However, because of TikTok, the toy has attracted new audiences. While some teens are using Orbeez to make DIY stress balls, others are weaponizing the colorful pellets.
What is the Orbeez Challenge?
The Orbeez Challenge, or #OrbeezChallenge, involves filling some type of blaster or toy gun with Orbeez balls, then shooting it at strangers while recording the interaction for TikTok. The trend, which sometimes goes by the name #OrbeeChallenge, is all the over the platform. Some users are even making Orbeez ammo gun tutorials.
While this may all seem harmless, launching Orbeez at others can seriously hurt. Not only that, but it can be considered a felony in some states.
Yes, the Orbeez Challenge can land you in prison.
Michigan attorney Dustyn Coontz, who is the founder of Coontz Law, PLLC, took to TikTok to explain the perils of participating in the Orbeez Challenge. His video comes right after a March 22 incident, where a Michigan teen was charged with assault after allegedly doing the challenge.
As Dustyn explains below, the Orbeez Challenge can warrant jail time depending on what state you live in.
Per Michigan's laws, using a dangerous weapon "without intending to commit murder or inflict great bodily harm less than murder" is actually considered a felony that can land someone in prison for up to four years and/or result in a $2,000 fine. And yes, the state considers a BB gun a dangerous weapon.
Furthermore, Michigan has something called the felony firearm law.
Basically, the law is this: If one commits a felony with a pneumatic gun, there is a two-year mandatory prison sentence. This prison sentence would be in addition to the one's felony charges. For context, "a pneumatic gun means any implement designed as a gun, that will expel a BB or pellet by spring, gas, or air," according to state law.
"The things people are shooting Orbeez out of definitely count," Dustyn confirmed.
Bottom line: Orbeez are a fun toy to play with, but not when others could get hurt.