The Curse of the Chinese Toy

Posted by: Diane Brady on August 03, 2007

Here’s something manufacturers don’t want to hear from their customers: “Is this made in China? I don’t want something made in China.” That’s what a customer at Toys R’ Us asked yesterday when I was running in to buy a last-minute birthday gift. She was holding a netted bag of bath toys and couldn’t see the country of origin. After some ultra-pricy Thomas Trains and now a range of Fisher Price toys from Mattel (all Chinese-made) were found to have excessive levels of lead paint, it’s hard to blame her for being concerned.

In fact, almost all toys are made in China. With the latest Mattel recall, I found myself looking a little more skeptically at my toddler’s Dora bed. (Dora toys were among those recalled) He doesn’t exactly chew on the thing but it was cheap enough that I assume it could only have been made in a low-cost labor market like China.

One thing I’m not clear on is how serious these lead levels are. Would your two year old have to chew his way through several toys to be at risk, or does simply handling the products pose problems? Mattel, at least, seems to be handling this latest crisis with a more open attitude than RC2, which was essentially silent in the immediate aftermath of the Thomas recall. With each incident, though, “China” increasingly becomes a dirty word in the minds of consumers. Makers of U.S.-made toys will likely leap on that fact to their advantage.


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Reader Comments

Thomas

August 3, 2007 12:12 PM

RC2 and Mattel don't hire fly by night manufacturers. They hire the most reputable Chinese companies using the latest technologies. If *they* have problems, imagine the middle to low tier companies.

I mentioned the word "problem" lightly because apparently the Chinese don't seem to view lead to be a big deal, even though it's well known lead is toxic to our bodies and causes cognitive problems especially in young children. Octavianus during the Roman Empire days wrote, "Water is much more wholesome from earthenware pipes than from lead pipes. For it seems to be made injurious by lead, because white lead paint is produced from it; and this is said to be harmful to the human body."

These Chinese managers are not dumb, behind the times, or merely cutting costs --- they are immoral. Big difference. They are immoral because they refused to use lead-free paint even in kids' toys knowing full well the paint will harm children. Yes, lead is all around us but you should never ever expect it in toys. They knew better but did it anyways. Alarm bells should go off in all parents' heads.

The woman in the Toys 'R Us did the right thing. Unlike the Chinese who made those lead laced toys, she's looking out for what's most important: children. It wasn't her money and certainly not her embarrassment when she asked (demanded?).

Thomas

Joel D. joseph

November 13, 2007 04:26 PM


For Immediate Release For More Information Contact
November 13, 2007 Joel Joseph (310) 922-1856

Made in the USA Foundation Launches American Toy Website
The Made in the USA Foundation has partnered with BondRewards to establish a website for consumers to buy American-made toys for Christmas. The new site is www.onlyustoys.com. It can also be accessed at www.bondrewards.com.
With more than 20 million Chinese toys taken off the shelves for safety and health problems, the Foundation believes that now is the time to promote good old American quality-made toys. The Foundation, a non-profit organization, was formed in 1989 to promote U.S.-made products in the United States and overseas.
The Foundation has partnered with BondRewards to promote the sales of Toys Made in the USA because BondRewards is America’s Reward Program. Members of BondRewards receive US Savings Bonds as their reward for shopping online. Joel D. Joseph, Chairman of the Made in the USA Foundation said, “The synergies of our missions, to help Americans save and America prosper, made our partnership an easy decision.”
Joseph said, “The website now offers more than 2,000 high-quality, safe, American-made toys. Unfortunately, most of these toys are not available at retail stores. We will add thousands of American-made toys to the site during the next 30 days.”
The Foundation is providing a certification that all of the toys on the website are actually Made in the USA. The Foundation is conducting inspections of factories so that consumers can have a high level of confidence that the toys sold on the site are genuinely made in America.

“We are thrilled by our partnership with Made In the USA Foundation where American consumers are assured that the products they purchase are certified by the Made in the USA Foundation and also receive U.S. Savings Bonds for their spending.” Chaz Berman Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
The Made in the USA Foundation was formed in 1989. It is dedicated to promoting American-made products in the United States and overseas. The Foundation successfully pushed Congress to pass the American Automobile Labeling Act and the Country of Origin Labeling Act, that requires country of origin labeling of food products.
UCB Network, Inc, headquartered in San Francisco, California, is an innovative media and direct marketing company. UCB Network’s flagship service BondRewards® is an online rewards program for American consumers. BondRewards is an unique reward site that offers you points that are redeemed for real U.S. Savings Bonds when consumers shop at affiliated stores. Every time a shopper reaches 50 BondRewards, he or she can redeem them for a $50 Series EE U.S. Savings Bond. This is a great deal that helps the United States in two ways: promoting the sale of U.S.-made products and encouraging savings.
A percentage of every purchase of Toys Made in the USA goes as a donation to the Made in the USA Foundation to continue its work of providing valuable information to consumers and Congress.

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How can you manage smarter? BusinessWeek writers Nanette Byrnes, Patricia O’Connell, Emily Thornton, Matthew Boyle, Michelle Conlin and Diane Brady synthesize insights from the brightest business thinkers, critique the latest management trends, and comment on leaders in the news.

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