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October 2007 | Vol. VI - No. 10


Toys in the News: 10-31-07

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CPSC Announces Toy Recalls. October 31, 2007 – The Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the companies named below, has announced voluntary recalls of the following products due to high levels of lead: about 43,000 "Ugly Teeth" Party Favors by Amscan Inc., sold from January 2006 through October 2007; about 16,000 Elite Operations Toys, sold at Toys "R" Us stores and online from July through October 2007; and about 1,500 Ribbit Board Games, imported and distributed by SimplyFun LLC and sold from March through October 2007.

Fall Toy Preview Will Stay in Dallas. October 30, 2007
– The Toy Industry Association said today that its appointment-only, mass-market Fall Toy Preview show will be held at Dallas Market Center in Dallas, Texas, for the next three years. The 2008 show will run Oct. 14-17, and exhibit prices are expected to increase slightly in order to cover costs.

Halloween Teeth Bitten by Recall. October 29, 2007
– Factory Card & Party Outlet Corp. has recalled about 2,500 "Ugly Teeth" that may contain high levels of lead, based on testing by a chemistry professor at Ashland University. The party favors were bought from JCS Hong Kong Ltd., according to a press release, and consumers are encouraged to return the item to Factory Card stores for a refund.

Consumer Group Pinpoints Lead-Tainted Toys. October 29, 2007
– Consumers Union has reported finding high levels of lead in select toys and other products not included on recall lists, based on testing of items taken from homes and retail stores, Reuters reported. The organization is recommending that consumers stop using the affected items, which include Elmer's Glue Stick caps and a toy blood-pressure cuff by Fisher-Price.

Firms to Face UK Prosecution for Toxic Toys. October 26, 2007
(Press Association) – Following a unanimous vote of the European Parliament, companies that import unsafe toys into the United Kingdom will be held legally liable, according to Guardian Unlimited.

Mattel and Others Announce Recalls. October 25, 2007 – Mattel’s Fisher-Price Inc., in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, has voluntarily recalled about 38,000 Go Diego Go Animal Rescue Boats due to high levels of lead on surface paints. The toy, made in China, sold at stores nationwide from June through September 2007. Other recalls of toys and children’s products include the following: about 1 million Bumbo “Baby Sitter” Seats by Bumbo International for posing a serious injury hazard to children who may flip out of the seat from an elevated surface, sold from August 2003 through October 2007; about 110,000 units of WeGlow Children’s Metal Jewelry by WeGlow International for high lead content, sold at dollar stores from December 2005 through August 2007; about 198,000 lead-tainted units of Beary Cute, Expressions, and Sassy & Chic Children’s Metal Jewelry by Greenbrier International, sold at dollar stores from December 2005 through July 2007; about 97,000 Children’s Toy Gardening Tools for excessive lead levels, sold at Jo-Ann Stores from January through September 2007; about 80,000 Football Bobble Head Cake Decorations by DecoPac Inc., sold at ice cream stores and bakeries from January 2006 through October 2007; and about 142,000 Purple Halloween Pails with Witch Decorations for high levels of lead, sold at Family Dollar stores from August through October 2007.

Trivial Pursuit Headed for TV. October 24, 2007
– A television show called "Trivial Pursuit: America Plays" is scheduled for fall 2008 under worldwide television rights secured by Debmar-Mercury, which will partner with Hasbro in releasing the half-hour show based on the popular board game, according to World Screen.

Magnets Sold at Target Recalled. October 23, 2007 – Global Design Concepts Inc., in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, voluntarily recalled about 110,000 magnetic game pieces sold with "Cars"-themed backpacks because small magnets can come out of their plastic housing and pose aspiration and intestinal problems for young children. The products were sold at Target stores from February through September 2007.

Silverlit and Spin Master File Helicopter Lawsuit. October 23, 2007
– Silverlit Toys Manufactory Ltd. and its North American distributor Spin Master Ltd. have filed suit against Westminster Inc. and KB Toys to halt sales of a mini helicopter they allege infringes on design patents for the award-winning Air Hogs Havoc Heli, according to a press release.

Bachmann Gains Williams. October 23, 2007
– Bachmann Trains recently acquired Williams Electric Trains and will promote the company's O gauge 3-rail lines under the brand "Williams by Bachmann," according to a press release.

Spider-Man Helps Hasbro in 3Q. October 22, 2007
– Hasbro reported a 62 percent increase in its third-quarter profit thanks to a tax adjustment and higher sales led by movie tie-ins such as Spider-Man and Transformer toys, according to the New York Times. Despite the widespread recalls for lead point and magnets that shook much of the toy industry this summer and fall, the company said their retail sales had been strong all year and they are "optimstic" about the fourth quarter, too

Silly String Goes to War. October 22, 2007
– Marcelle Shriver of Stratford, New Jersey, organized a shipment to Iraq of 80,000 cans of Silly String by Just for Kicks, reported the New York Times. The Silly String was requested by her son, a soldier stationed in Iraq because the lightweight Silly String material will cling to, but not activate, tripwires not visible to the eye.

Wal-Mart Cuts Prices for Holidays. October 19, 2007
– Anticipating a competitive holiday season, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. cut its prices this week on 20% more items than it did last year, reported The Wall Street Journal.

Gymboree Pulls Swords. October 18, 2007
– Gymboree Corp., in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, has recalled about 6,000 Toy Pirate Swords that pose a breakage and laceration hazard. The swords were sold at Gymboree stores and online from August through September 2007.

Leaded Jewelry Detected in New York. October 18, 2007
– Lead-related toy recalls prompted Westchester county in New York to test dollar-store jewelry for lead, finding that 10 of 53 products contained amounts exceeding the state limit, according to Newsday.

Lead Paint Spurs More Recalls. October 17, 2007
– The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the companies named below, has recalled the following items due to high levels of lead: about 5,400 Tabletop Puppet Theaters by Guidecraft, sold in specialty shops, catalogues and online from June 2006 through August 2007; about 200,000 Cool Clip™ and Mini Cool Clip™ Bookmarks by Antioch Publishing, sold at book, gift and card stores from April 2003 through October 2007; and about 55,000 Skull Pails Filled With Halloween Candy Mix by R.L. Albert & Son, sold from September through October 2007.

Orders for Chinese Toys Still Strong. October 17, 2007 (Reuters)
– Even with the astounding number of recalls in recent months and consumer fears over product safety going into the holidays, orders for toys made in China are increasing, mandating overtime for many factory workers, according to Li Changjiang, in charge of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine in China.

Free Glow Sticks Recalled. October 17, 2007
– Dunkin’ Donuts, in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, has recalled pink and orange glow sticks that were given away with donuts at the company’s stores from September through October 2007. The cap and lanyard of the glow sticks can detach and present a choking hazard, and the lanyard itself poses danger of strangulation for young children.

Action Products Looks Beyond Toys. October 17, 2007
– Action Products International Inc. is planning to acquire business partners not associated with the toy industry in order to heighten the company's stock value. Though not toy related, the undisclosed potential partners have businesses that apply to children and families, according to the Orlando Business Journal.

Cartoons Adapt to Overseas Markets. October 16, 2007
– “Transcreation” is reinventing popular U.S. cartoon characters for foreign markets, turning, for example, the small round-headed Powerpuff Girls into hip, long-legged heroines in short skirts for Japan. Peter Parker of “Spider-Man” wears a traditional loincloth in India, where he’s known as Pavitr Prabhakar, and Disney’s “Cuties” line in China gives the Mickey Mouse gang small eyes and noses and barely-there mouths, The Wall Street Journal reported.

MEGA Brands Fights Test Results. October 16, 2007
– MEGA Brands is announcing at a press conference Tuesday that the company is pursuing an injunction against consumer safety publication Protégez-Vous, which the company says published faulty test results after using the wrong test on a MEGA Brands item, according to a press release.

California Says “No” to Phthalates. October 15, 2007
– Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California signed a bill Sunday prohibiting the use of phthalates in products for children younger than 3. The chemical, frequently used in the molding process of toys and other plastic items, has been tied to reproductive defects and cancer. For information on the phthalate debate, see Plastic Death: Truth, or Scare? and PVC Toy Scare: Manufacturing Danger. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that other states, and possibly Congress as well, will follow California's lead in banning phthalates if supporters of the law – which takes effect Jan. 1, 2009 – have their way.

Mattel's Profit Falls. October 15, 2007
– Mattel Inc.'s net income for the third quarter has fallen 1 percent from last year, to $236.8 million, due in part to the $40 million costs incurred with the company's toy recalls. Quarterly gross sales increased by 6 percent overall, but sales of Barbie in the United States declined by 19 percent, MarketWatch reported.

Former Execs Acquire Small World. October 12, 2007
– Former executives at Small World Toys have bought the company out of bankruptcy, according to a press release. John Nelson, previously president and COO, will serve as CEO, John Matise will return to his post as COO, David Adams will take on responsibilities as CFO; and Howard Bennett, formerly senior vice president of sales, will take over as president. Company founder Eddy Goldwasser will serve as both consultant and board member.

Now's the Time for "Made in the USA." October 12, 2007 (AP)
– Small toy companies such as Maple Landmark, Arrowcopter Inc. and Lauri Toys — all of which manufacture in the United States — have seen a surge of orders in the last few months, making it challenging to keep up with demand. But experts say the insistence for products made in the USA isn't likely to last past the recalls, with children's preferences driving holiday sales and overseas manufacturing accounting for such a large percentage of the U.S. toy market, according to a Yahoo! News article.

Medicine for Babies Pulled from Shelves. October 12, 2007 (AP)
– Nonprescription cold medicines made for children younger than 2 were withdrawn from stores Thursday under such brand names as Dimetapp, Tylenol, Pediacare and Robitussin. The Food and Drug Administration and other groups have reported deaths, largely due to overdose, associated with the over-the-counter drugs, and some health experts and pediatricians agree that the medicines are not effective in young children, according to a Yahoo! News article.

WHAM-O Wins $6 Million in Lawsuit. October 12, 2007
– WHAM-O Inc. was awarded $6 million in a suit against SLB Toys USA Inc. (ToyQuest) over the latter company’s infringement and false advertising regarding WHAM-O’s YELLOW trademark for waterslides, according to a press release.

Art Sets and Pooh Toys Among Latest Recalls. October 11, 2007
– The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the companies named below, is recalling the following products due to lead paint hazards: about 7,800 Princess Magnetic Travel Art Set Lap Desks, imported by CBOCS Distribution Inc. and sold at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store® sites from April 2007 through August 2007; about 49,000 Disney™ Deluxe Winnie-the-Pooh 23-Piece Play Sets, sold through J.C. Penney from August 2005 through August 2007; about 19,000 Deluxe Wood Art Sets, sold through J.C. Penney from September 2005 through August 2007; about 2,400 Breyer 2006 Stirrup Ornaments, sold through J.C. Penney from August 2006 to August 2007; about 10,000 Bendable Dinosaur Toys, sold from the Kipp Brothers’ showroom, catalog and website from October 2006 through August 2007; and about 2,500 Collectible “Jeff Gordon” Mini Helmets, imported by Riddell Inc. and sold at Academy, other stores and online from February 2007 through October 2007.

Is Curious George Leaded? October 11, 2007
– The Center for Environmental Health, based in Oakland, Calif., issued a complaint to Marvel Entertainment Inc. about the Curious George Birthday doll the company markets, saying the toy contains highly lead-tainted paint and plastic parts, the Los Angeles Times reported. Marvel said it has stopped shipments of the doll and will test product from its Chinese supplier, following up with a voluntary recall if appropriate.

Mattel Faces Lawsuit from Pension Fund. October 11, 2007
– Sterling Heights Police and Fire Retirement System of Michigan filed a suit Wednesday against Mattel, claiming that the company was late in reporting the toys included in its three summer recalls and seeking compensation for affected shareholders, according to The New York Times.

Cub Scouts Badges Recalled. October 9, 2007
– Kahoot Products Inc., in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, has recalled about 1.6 million Cub Scouts Totem Badges due to surface paints with high levels of lead. The badges were manufactured in China and sold at Boy Scouts of America retail outlets from January 2000 through September 2007.

Starbucks Recalls Kids’ Cups. October 9, 2007
– Starbucks Coffee Co., in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, has announced a voluntary recall of 250,000 children’s plastic cups that pose a choking or laceration hazard if the cup is dropped and the face breaks off, revealing small parts or sharp edges. The cups were sold at Starbucks from May 2006 through August 2007.

Razor Recalls Scooters. October 5, 2007
– Razor USA, in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, is voluntarily recalling about 20,000 Razor E300 Electric Scooters because of a hazardous weld that can break, causing the handlebar to disconnect and the rider to lose control and potentially fall. The recall covers products with barcodes beginning 100620-03 through -09, which were sold at Pep Boy stores and online from January through October 2006.

Not Enough Wii? October 5, 2007 (Fortune)
– Nintendo has earned some angry fans with the news that there won't be enough of the Wii gaming console to go around this holiday season. President Reggie Fils-Aime of Nintendo of America said nobody could've predicted the product's extreme popularity, and production won't meet demand until early 2008, according to a CNNMoney article.

CPSC Announces More Toy Recalls. October 4, 2007
– The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the companies named below, has announced voluntary recalls of the following products due to high levels of lead: 10,000 Wooden Pull-Along Alphabet & Math Blocks Wagons, Wooden Pull-Along Learning Blocks Wagons, 10-in-1 Activity Learning Carts and Flip-Flop Alphabet Blocks, imported by KB Toys Inc. and sold in the company’s stores at dates ranging from August 2005 to September 2007; about 79,000 “Pirates of the Caribbean” Medallion Squeeze Lights, imported by Eveready Battery Co. and sold at various brick-and-mortar and online retail stores from September 2007 through October 2007; about 63,000 Frankenstein Tumblers, imported by Dollar General Merchandising Inc. and sold at the stores in September 2007; about 35,000 Baby Einstein Discover & Play Color Blocks, distributed by Kids II Inc. and sold from June through September 2007; about 150,000 bookmarks and journals, imported by Antioch Publishing and sold from March 2005 through October 2007; and about 15,000 Children’s Toy Decorating Sets, manufactured by CKI Toys and sold at Toys “R” Us stores from May through September 2007. Visit the CPSC website for more information.

Ohio Art Names SVPs. October 4, 2007
– The Ohio Art Company has promoted both Martin L. Killgallon, III and Jeffrey L. Morris to senior vice president. Killgallon, formerly director of marketing, will lead marketing and product development, and Morris will head up sales and operations while retaining his responsibilities as chief financial officer, according to a press release.

Hit Stores Early or Miss Out. October 4, 2007
– Toy industry experts predict that increased product testing and early price-cutting — such as Wal-Mart’s recent reductions in toy prices — will cramp inventory supply this holiday season, leading to sellouts of hot toys long before Christmas, according to CNNMoney. Reuters reported that stock shares for Jakks Pacific, Hasbro and Mattel fell more than 2 percent Wednesday.

“Halo 3” Takes the Lead. October 4, 2007
– Microsoft Corp’s exclusive Xbox 360 game “Halo 3” pulled in more than $300 million in global sales during its first week on the market, making it the fastest-selling video game in history, according to a press release. See related news from September here.

Toy Bills Seek Lead Ban. October 3, 2007
– Democrats in both the House and Senate, including Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, introduced bills Wednesday that would basically prohibit the inclusion of lead in toys and other products for children up to 6 years old, according to a New York Times article.

RC2’s Generosity Backfires. October 3, 2007 (AP)
– RC2 Corp.’s recall of 200,000 Thomas & Friends items in late September included 2,000 lead-tainted products the company had sent as “free gifts” to customers in hopes of earning back their loyalty after a recall of 1.5 million toys in June, the Los Angeles Times reported.

eBay Discourages Recall Sales. October 3, 2007 (AP)
– In efforts to eliminate online sales of recalled toys from companies such as Mattel and RC2, eBay is providing links to recall lists and notifying sellers posting recalled items that they could lose their earnings and be removed from the website, according to an article in USA Today.

Target Recalls Rattles. October 2, 2007
– Target, in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, is recalling 82,000 plush boys’ rattles in baseball, football and basketball designs because the small beads on the inside can pose a choking hazard if the toy breaks open. The $1 rattles retailed at Target stores from March through May 2007. Visit the CPSC website for more information, and click here for news on additional recalls.

Blocks Bolster Language. October 1, 2007 (Reuters)
– A University of Washington study funded by Mega Bloks concluded that block play encourages development of language skills in 11/2- to 2 1/2-year-olds. After six months, half of the 175 toddlers who received plastic blocks to play with scored 15 percent higher on language assessments than did the group without blocks, Yahoo! News reported. Click here to read more about educational toys.

Holiday Clouds Lined With Silver, Not Lead. October 1, 2007
– Despite numerous toy recalls and fears about children's products tainted with lead, retailers are reporting that sales have improved, according to Yahoo! Finance. Consumers may be confused, but they're still buying, albeit with a bit more caution.

Wal-Mart Pushes Xmas Early. October 1, 2007
– Wal-Mart started the holidays in September by slashing prices on popular mass-market toys such as Fisher-Price's Kid Tough Digital Camera, The New York Times reported. The retail giant hopes to lure customers into their stores despite economic uncertainties and anxiety over the recent toy recalls. Click here to read about Wal-Mart's increased toy testing and other news.

China Works On Product Safety. October 1, 2007
– Wu Yi, vice premier of a special 4-month panel instituted in August to oversee product quality and food safety in China, said that improvements had been made in quality control but there was still work to do. According to The New York Times, she cited positive actions taken by Guangdong and Jiangsu provinces, where officials have increased supervision of exported toys. Nevertheless, she urged leaders across the country to make guidance and examination of all products a priority.

Kids Become "Green" Warriors. September 29, 2007
– Influenced by movies and education programs, some children are urging their parents to buy "green" products, such as hybrid cars, solar panels and fluorescent light bulbs to help protect the environment, reported The Wall Street Journal.

Lead Testers Profit. September 29, 2007
– As toy recalls from Mattel, Walt Disney and other manufacturers have released a wave of anxiety throughout the toy industry and the general public, companies that test for lead and other dangerous substances are gearing up for a boon, reported The New York Times. Toy makers have admitted that they had not been testing their products assiduously or frequently enough, which has created a new niche market for testing companies that had previously focused on other industries.

Jesus for Sale. September 28, 2007
– The niche market of religious toys is expanding, according to The Wall Street Journal. Wal-Mart is test-selling religious toy maker One2believe's dolls and action figures at 425 of its 3,376 stores. But it's not just the Christians who are profiting; a new company called Kridana is due to start shipping figures of Shri Hanuman and Lord Rama in November, just in time for the Hindu holidays.

New Toys Recalled, Says CPSC. September 28, 2007
– New toy recalls include: 21,000 Mini Zooper Doll Strollers, which can entrap a child or sever its fingertip; 10,000 Floor Puppet Theaters from Guidecraft Inc., owing to excessive lead found in surface paints; 16,000 Toy Rakes sold exclusively in Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores, due to lead paint. For more information, visit the CPSC website or TDmonthly's Toy Recalls page.


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