Switzerland's leading chain of toy stores, Franz Carl Weber, has announced it will no longer be stocking toy guns and related weapons on its shelves. The company said the decision was made in the wake of the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11.
Franz Carl Weber, which operates 23 stores across Switzerland, said the decision to remove stocks of plastic weapons was not a temporary measure and customers should not expect to see such goods on sale again in the future.
The new policy brings the toy store into line with a decision taken some time ago by Switzerland's largest supermarket chain, Migros, not to stock toy weapons or products associated with war.
Lukas Brühwiler, spokesman for Franz Carl Weber, told swissinfo that a gradual withdrawal from sale of toy pistols had begun "several years ago", but the US attacks had speeded up the process.
"Following the tragic events in America, we decided to withdraw all toys which could be construed to have any connection with war."
Among the toys withdrawn from sale are scale-model kits of military aircraft and battleships, plastic tanks and "action man" figures holding guns in their hands.
"Children today seem to be more interested in electronic games and sports, and much less in military toys," Brühwiler said.
The announcement came as Switzerland's biggest annual toy exhibition was taking place in the capital, Bern.
Toy manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers at the five-day "Swiss Toy" exhibition said children today are buying fewer toy guns or replica weapons.
Markus Zaug, one of the exhibitors at the toy fair, suggested the absence of toy guns at the stands inside the main hall was indicative of a change of direction in the toy industry.
"Computers and computer games are the future, not guns, which are not common today," Zaug told swissinfo.
"If you look at the attacks that occurred in the United States, it's become quite difficult to sell toys like this," he added.
Another toy manufacturer at the fair, Claudia Schmid, said she hoped the withdrawal of such toys would lead to an increase in the sale of more traditional toys.
Board and card games, argues Schmid, promote social interaction among children and can encourage them to make friends, whereas toy guns are dangerous because they are "for the individual rather than the group".
by Ramsey Zarifeh