Toy helicopter blows up in Jersey Shore boy’s bedroom, dad says
BRICK — A Jersey Shore boy awoke to the sight of his toy helicopter melted into his desk.
Robert Thanel told New Jersey 101.5 he moved his son's Tough Copter, which he received as a birthday gift in November, from next to his bed to the desk across the room as it charged at bedtime because he didn't feel comfortable with it so close to the boy.
The next morning, Thanel said his son came running downstairs with a shocked look on his face and said: "My helicopter melted!"
"It did more than melt. It definitely caught fire. It scorched a divot in the desk. There was soot all over the room and bits of plastic that looks like at some point ... it popped and bits shot everywhere, like maybe it exploded. The fire alarms didn't go off, which is strange," Thanel said.
Thanel said they had to wash all their clothes and his son is just getting back into his room because the smell had been so bad. He said a camcorder was also melted and the room will have to be repainted.
The helicopter had been charged several times previously without incident, according to Thanel.
Thanel's father, also named Robert, told New Jersey 101.5 that based on his look at a picture of the melted toy, "they're really lucky the house didn't burn down."
"If that desk would would've lit up the house would have gone," the boy's grandfather said. "That thing melted right through the desk. It smoldered but it didn't light. It's scary," adding that "everyone was coughing up black stuff" after the melt, which he thought was one of his adult son's soldering projects.
He described his son's reaction as being freaked out.
"For a couple days there he was sitting there zoning out," the grandfather said, adding that his son is now much more aware of the dangers of keeping things plugged in when the house is not occupied.
Thanel said that when he tried to bring his son's helicopter back to Best Buy in Brick, they would not refund his money or give him the number of their corporate office. The manager who helped him, according to Thanel, could not provide contact information for Protocol, which does not have a phone number on its website.
Thanel said their attitude seemed to be that they only sold the product and could not do much else for him. Protocol has not yet responded to his email.
"Compensation would be good, but I'd rather have this not happen to anyone else. I feel that's paramount," Thanel said.
The Tough Copter, which sells for $80 on Protocol's website, is described as a radio-controlled helicopter that's "durable and tough" to better handle crashes.
It is powered by a lithium battery, which has been blamed for the overheating of the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone and led some to catch fire. No reviews of the Tough Copter on Amazon mention the helicopters melting. There also do not appear to be any reported cases of other meltdowns.
New Jersey 101.5 Science and Technology Adviser Dave Loudon said that the lithium ion batteries used in the Galaxy Note 7 hold a lot of energy.
"This problem, and problems in the past with lithium ion batteries, are because there was a manufacturing defect in the battery, not because the phone malfunctioned and not because the user did anything wrong," Loudon said. "The batteries hold a lot of energy, and if they are not manufactured correctly, they can release the energy in a catastrophic way. That's what causes these fires."
A message for Protocol has not yet been returned.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.
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