Mattel Will Pay $2.3 Million Penalty For All Those Lead Toys

Remember back when lead toys were all the rage? Oh, those dangerous days, when you couldn’t lick a Dora the Explorer doll without fear of memory loss! Well, Mattel and the Consumer Prouct Safety Commission (CPSC) have reached an agreement on how much Mattel should pay for importing toys that exceeded U.S. lead safety guidelines, and the amount is $2.3 million. Maybe now the CPSC can use some of that money to grease the DC wheels and get their new chair nominee confirmed.

“Mattel to Pay $2.3 Million Penalty for Toy Hazard” [Bloomberg]
(Photo: IntangibleArts)


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  1. KingPsyz says:

    And why is this going to to the CPSC and not to you know THE CONSUMERS AND THEIR FAMILES?

    What danger did the CPSC endure for that reward? Seems the CPSC was a bit slow on the draw allowing all these toys to hit the market eh?

    I’d rather see them use the money to help familes safely REPLACE AND REMOVE effected toys and educate them on toy safety.

    • Kogenta says:

      @Do not taunt Happy Fun King Psyz: What do you expect them to do? Give each of the affected families a dollar and move on? 2.3 Million probably wouldn’t even pay the cost of refunding the affected merch.

    • Rachacha says:

      @Do not taunt Happy Fun King Psyz: Actually, CPSC does not get to keep the money. All fines are turned over to the Department of the Treasury. I am still trying to find the reference for this, but CPSC does NOT get to keep the money.

      • oneandone says:

        @Rachacha: I can’t find that reference, but I remember reading the same things. All federal enforcement agencies turn the fines they collect over to Treasury.

      • Rachacha says:

        @Rachacha: Found it…sort of. It is in paragraph 30 (page 7) of the linked settlement agreement: []

        “This payment shall be made by check payable to the order of the United States Treasury”

        There is no specific reference to the CFR reference that requires this, but all fines go in the general operating fund for the entire U.S. Government.

    • oneandone says:

      @Do not taunt Happy Fun King Psyz: The fine $$ is going to CPSC because the company violated federal laws & regulations – if the families can show that they were injured, they can take separate action. That seems pretty callous, but the reality is that what Mattel did was wrong on several levels – and CPSC is getting their fine based on action on one level, not all.

      • KingPsyz says:

        But didn’t the CPSC sorta let it import all those tainted toys and only said woah when the media got involved?

        • Rachacha says:

          @Do not taunt Happy Fun King Psyz: CPSC was doing a compliance blitz on Lead paint in toys. The number of recalls hit the media and it exploded and before anyone knew it, every toy was being tested for lead. It brought attention to the issue which is what CPSC wanted to do to send a message to manufacturers that they were watching, but I don’t think that lead paint in toys is a major concern. More people die slipping in the bathtub every year than the number of kids who obtain lead poisioning from toys.

        • oneandone says:

          @Do not taunt Happy Fun King Psyz: Maybe. I guess I see it from this perspective: Mattel broke the law. Without even getting into the details of what they did, the fact that they were not in compliance with the regulations means that they get penalized. In this case, break the law = pay a fine. And that’s pretty much the extent of what CPSC can do.

          However, if Mattel’s non-compliance with regulations also broke other laws, DOJ might be interested in a criminal case – or maybe state-level agencies. There’s also the possibility of civil action. But regarding CPSC, all Mattel did was violate their regulations, so the only enforcement from CPSC is regarding those regulations.

          It’s possible that CPSC could have taken action after Mattel imported the toys but before they were sold. (Though I haven’t checked the regs for specifically what they say, it seems like importing is a violation on its own). So what if they had imported the toys but never sold them? Still possibly a violation, that could potentially result in the same kind of fine. Even if no one got injured, or even exposed to the lead, there’s still a violation.

          And that’s all that CPSC is going after in this instance – and I doubt they can go beyond that. If anything criminal or even negligent happened, it’s out of their authority.

          • trujunglist says:


            I guess the question is ultimately if Mattel knew that they were selling this stuff. If they were misled into thinking that these toys were all good, then I can see why there would be no criminal charges: they basically got scammed. If they did know about it, then imho there should be murder, attempted murder, etc. charges.

  2. H3ion says:

    This is a civil penalty, a fine if you will. It doesn’t stop consumers from bringing lawsuits (or a class action) if they can prove damages.

  3. I Love New Jersey says:

    Wouldn’t it be easier not to make the crap in China to begin with?

    • MooseOfReason says:

      @I Love New Jersey: Or how about having a company test the products and stamp its mark of approval on the product, that it’s approved for use by children?

      • RogerTheAlien says:

        @MooseOfReason: Well, considering how a lot of kids put toys in the mouth, we could have the FDA start giving grades to toys, kind of like they do with beef. Obviously Dora wouldn’t be FDA Prime, but maybe other toys could be. That way, when kids starting shoving all manner of play things into their mouth-holes, as they’re wont to do, they’ll know it was pure, 100% corn-fed plastic, not that lead-tainted kind.

        • MooseOfReason says:

          @RogerTheAlien: If you have something electronic, like a laptop, chances are it has symbols on the bottom – UL mark, CE mark, etc. They certify that a product meets certain safety requirements.

          I’m saying, why couldn’t a company like that put its mark of approval on toys?

          • Rachacha says:

            @MooseOfReason: This is essentially hat the new Consumer Product safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) will do. The CPSIA however only requires that manufacturers have a sample product tested by an accredited laboratory (which could be the manufacturer’s lab).
            The UL mark (there are 14 other labs who can do the same work in the US in a program run by OSHA) requires that the product be tested by the lab, and the lab visits the factory 2-4 times per year to make sure the product is being built safely. The CE mark is a European certification, and is the manufacturer attesting that the product meets certain requirements (testing by an accredited lab is not usually necessary).

            Therefore the CPSIA sits somewhere between European CE marking and the UL mark.

    • tobedetermined says:

      I would think ultimately Mattle is responsible for the selecting, monitoring, and auditing their vendors, Chinese, Vietnamese, Mexican, or whatnot.

    • jumpo64 says:

      @I Love New Jersey:

      Good Idea. Let’s pay someone with an 8th grade education in Detroit $40/hr. to build this stuff. Also, let’s give them amazing benefits. Also, those people will probably need a union, and some wiseguys to make sure they never have to work tooooo hard. Did I mention the things they are going to build are going to be marginally less desirable / reliable than foreign products.

      Hey, it could work, right? Right?

  4. TheSpatulaOfLove says:

    Mattel: “Let’s just mark this one as ‘cost of doing business’, mmkay?”

  5. Shoelace says:

    That fine should start with all profit Mattel made on the ‘excess lead’ toys. If companies had to actually pay for negligence like this instead of just taking a chip off their massive income, I think they’d be more likely to change their ways.

  6. bjdhtgjvbhdgd says:

    That fine is nowhere near big enough. $2.3 million? Come on! If you read the article, they imported 21 million of these toys that were in violation. That’s less than 11 cents per toy. How many of these $20+ pieces of junk didn’t get recalled and are still out there today?

    • Rachacha says:

      @Method of Steepest Descent: But in many cases, it was not the entire toy that was tainted with lead, it was one red dot on Dora’s shoe or something equally as small. The reality is that it is very unlikely that even if the child swallowed the toy that they would suffer any ill effects from the lead paint.

  7. jumpo64 says:

    2.3 million is a pretty small chunk of change for a company like Mattel.

    Anyway, I’m not really convinced this “lead in toys” thing is a huge deal. I’m sure everything my siblings and I played with growing up in the late 70’s and 80’s was contaminated with lead in some way. We, and millions of other children, have turned out seemingly unharmed from chewing on hotwheels for years.

    I’d still say a bad parent / parenting is an exponentially larger harm to a child’s health than a bit of lead in my candyland board game.

  8. bjdhtgjvbhdgd says:

    The quantity of lead is not the issue here. The big issue is that these companies think they can maximize profits (for a select already wealthy few) by buying cheap dangerous products from poor countries with low standards. How can anyone support this or say, “Ah, its not a big deal”?

    Do you really want your kids playing with the same dangerous junk that we did in the 70’s and 80’s? How many of us will actually make it through our 60’s cancer-free?