Toys, Toys, Toys – Oh, What Kind of Christmas will 2008 be for Toy Givers, Toy Makers…and the Little Toy Receivers…

Oh, glorious Black Friday – the much-awaited day after Thanksgiving, when retailers open their doors at 4 a.m., 6 a.m. and so on.  Hordes of shoppers rush in to the retail floors to snap up bargains.  Bringing bright smiles to retailer faces.  (And today is the big on-line shopping day, with sales in the hundreds of billions’ of dollars.) The Christmas holiday shopping season is now officially “on.”  And for toys?  Well…that may be another story, amidst the euphoric mood of shoppers over the past weekend.  Mothers, grandmothers, toy-givers of all ages and genders and income levels and educational backgrounds are carefully screening the dolls, toys and gadgets they’ll buy this season.


Tens of millions of toys have been / are still being recalled in rolling, huge waves of “voluntary recalls” by major toymakers / marketers.  State attorneys general (especially in New York and California) are zeroing in on contaminated or dangerous or lead-containing toys and launching investigations.  Media are all over the issue in this news cycle – which will run (we believe) out into the new year.  One city mayor in Florida today called for banning of all Chinese-produced goods in his fair town.  (Asks a colleague here – what on earth would they put in the stores, then?)


Toy manufacturers are proactive on the issue; consider –


Mattel (“The World’s Premier Toy Brands”) has a voluntary recall information section updated regularly on its Web site.  And a “tips for safe toys this holiday” for consumers. Information is presented in English, Espanol, Deutsch, Francais, and Italiano. Information:   Its other brand…


Fisher Price has recall information posted – though the company downplays the issue on its Home Page, which features all the great toys being marketed (hey kids, remember Big Wheels?).  The menu pull down includes “product Recalls,” listing three dozen already recalled (some dating back to 1998 and 2000; then, this season’s recalls dating back to February).  Consumers are advised to call a toll-free number (Mattel’s Consumer Answer Center) or locate the F-P office near them. Lots at stake here; F-P and Mattel brands include Barbie® dolls, Smart Cycle®, Friends®, Power Wheels®, Little People®, BabyGear®, Pixar Cars®, Batman Batmobile®, and many others.


Little Tikes (“Fun that Lasts!”) has a bold “Made in America” on its Web site, along with notes on the “high quality” of their toys. Little Tikes offers a “Note of Confidence” about its toys, and the company’s efforts to have suppliers and independent labs pay more attention to toy making processes and products.  The firm stresses “Made in the USA” to differentiate itself from the global-sourcing competitors.  Information:


Hasbro Toys has a letter from its CEO about toy safety.  Mr. Al Verrecchia writes…”no issue is more important to me than the safety of our toys and of the children who enjoy them…”  He goes on to outline testing and quality control checks, independent third-party inspections, and additional steps underway to ensure safe products reach retail shelves.  Mattel also has its “Corporate Social Responsibility” information on the Web site under the Corporate Governance section.  Read the CEO’s full letter at:  CSR info at:


Consumers and consumer advocates are putting their own information in the “ideas and information” marketplace – which affects consumer choices and buying patterns if fear levels are high enough.  And the toy issues this year seem to fit the “concerned” and “fearful” categories (especially given unrelenting media coverage).


On Accountability Central the editors are trying to present all sides of the story, and to present all points of view (commentary and opinion).  You can find more information on recalls and consumer actions at:


The wonderfully-named “Moms Rising Petition for Safety Toys” and “MomSquawk” have a “Lead Paint Toy Recalls” Web site up, with information on the ongoing lead toy recalls (updated regularly), covering toys, jewelry, children’s products, lead point information, legal help, and other topics.


Information at:


“Manufacture This – ORG” – “Find Out What America is Made of” – Web site and blog about the loss of US manufacturing and the societal impact, including dangerous products pouring across our borders.   Information:


The [federal] Consumer Product Safety Commission lists “hazard recalls” on this Web site:


There’s more…more news, commentary & opinion, research, recall information…and you’ll find this in our Hot Topics Section – “Toy Safety Imports.”


Your comments?  Suggestions for additional content?


Hank Boerner
Editor & Publisher
Accountability Central