Here’s a story that makes you wonder what sort of tools the workers at Mattel’s factories use. A “shank” (a blade wrapped in electrical tape, to be exact) was found inside a sealed Polly Pocket toy purchased at Walmart.
Cadmium batteries are cheap and safe to use, but hazardous to manufacture. They’ll save you money—about $1.50 for the average cadmium-powered toy, says the Wall Street Journal.
Consumer Reports says that Fisher-Price has finished testing another toy blood pressure cuff and have found that it exceeds the Illinois lead limit for toys.
Yesterday Hasbro launched a new ad campaign in certain newspapers to promote its comparatively stellar safety record with toys—it hasn’t had any big ticket items show up in the lead-tainted parade this year (or to the date-rape afterparty) and it wants consumers to know.
Illinois has tough laws when it comes to dangerous toys, and now Fisher-Price has found itself on the wrong side of the Illinois Lead Poisoning Prevention Act, according to Consumer Reports.
A survey of global manufacturers found that only 22% have reviewed their supply chain in light of the Mattel lead toy recall situation. Of that number, 1/3 said they would change how they go about evaluating suppliers. 30% said they were sending quality inspectors to overseas plants. Most of the executives said their greatest fear in doing business with China wasn’t defective products, but that the Chinese would make knockoffs of their wares.
Mattel used to manufacture toys in the U.S., specifically in Western New York, where it still has offices. Now Rep. Louise Slaughter is calling for Mattel to repair its reputation by opening a plant in her district.
Slaughter, D-Fairport, made the suggestion to Robert A. Eckert, chairman and chief executive officer of Mattel — Fisher-Price’s parent company — in a Nov. 12 phone call.
Toys R Us has written a reassuring letter to its customers outlining its toy safety policies and threatening to discontinue selling products from any company that ignores them. Since Toys R Us still sells Mattel toys and Thomas & Friends wooden train sets, it’s hard to imagine a company that wouldn’t make the cut.
Today Mattel announced a recall of 155,000 Mexican-made toys being sold in countries throughout Europe and the United States. There’s no lead contamination this time around; the recall was announced “due to concerns that small pieces could detach from the toys and cause children to choke.” The product is the Laugh & Learn Learning Kitchen Toy, part of the Fisher-Price range.
The Consumer’s International 2007 International Bad Product Awards are here, folks. Let’s have a big round of applause for:
Consumer Reports is busy testing lead levels in children’s toys that are not on any recall list just to see if they are safe. They’re nice like that.
Liveblogging The Senate Commerce Committee Hearing On Toys, Children's Products, And The Chinese Sweatshops In Which They're Made
Starting today at 9:30 a.m., the Senate Commerce Committee will examine the lives of the young Chinese workers who assemble our Barbies and Tiggers without the workforce protections or social safety nets enjoyed by western workers.
Despite problems involving Chinese-made goods sold in the U.S., a Chinese spokesperson says that orders for Christmas toys are “up” and that factories can’t keep up with demand. But he also says, “I urge the importers of Chinese toys to come to China and buy more Chinese toys and I wish children around the world a Merry Christmas,” which makes the claim sound like PR spin. [Reuters]
Mattel’s shareholders are upset. A pension fund in Michigan has filed a shareholder lawsuit against the company, claiming that they mishandled product safety procedures and were therefor responsible for 3 toy recalls this summer. The lawsuit also alleges that executives with knowledge of the defects sold $33 million in stock before the recalls were announced.
Fashion Fever Shopping Boutique, the correctly named Barbie toy, features a built-in credit card swiper and a life-size credit card for young children to use when buying outfits for their dolls. According to the Amazon website, “Once the balance hits zero, it will reset so you can continue to shop.”
The toy recalls are still big news and something (the autumnal equinox, perhaps?) triggered an avalanche of “Oh, no! What should parents do?” advice stories from the media. Most, if not all, mentioned recalls.org,but you can also subscribe to Consumerist’s “recalls” feed.
Here at Consumerist we’ve been keeping an eye on the 2007 lead contamination recalls. Here’s September’s update: