This is Tyler. He's three. Last week, he found himself trapped in a glass cage, surrounded by stuffed animals and one giant claw. It was a prison of his own making. And he's not alone.

Enough children have entered the gaping maws of toy machines in the last several years that I'm prepared to declare it an epidemic. And while the worst that's happened so far is a few inconvenienced firemen, who knows how long it'll be before a child—or a plush basketball—suffers irreparable harm?

April 11, 2008: A "lucky dip game of skill" swallows a terrified boy at the Broad Meadow Shopping Center in Australia. The unit has to be disassembled before he can get out.

March 3, 2010: Colin, three, also Australian, gets stuck in a lollipop ("lollie") machine at Siena's Cafe in Perth.

October 4, 2010: An unidentified nine-year old lauded for "cheating" a claw machine at a Sun Prairie, Wisc., Wal-mart. After being freed, he took two toys home with him.

December 9, 2010 A two-year old girl (!) crawled inside a toy machine at the mall in Robinson Township, PA. She was found "sucking her binky" and rescued fifteen minutes later by firefighters.

And Tyler, above, just last week. Not to mention countless others whose plights have gone un-YouTubed

Surely, people, we can make these toy holes smaller, or make the toys in them less appealing, or raise children modeled more after Charlie Banks than Augustus Gloop. Until then, it's only a matter of time until the next (possibly) Australian (probably) boy finds himself in a glass house, throwing pet rocks, waiting for the nice men with axes to free him from the belly of the whale. [ninemsn via The Daily What]