Chinese Toys, You Get What You Pay For

August 14, 2007 · Print This Article · Email This Post

More Chinese Toys RecalledHoly Cow, Batman! On Tuesday, Mattel announced the recall of almost 19 million more Chinese-made toys because of concerns over lead paint (again) and small magnets which can become dislodged and swallowed by children. At least three children are reported to have undergone intestinal surgery after swallowing the magnetic parts. The toys include Polly Pocket™, Doggie Day Care®, Batman™, one One Piece™ toy, an accessory for two Barbie® dolls (the pooper scooper for Barbie’s dog, Tanner, has a magnet in it), and the “Sarge” toy from the “CARS” die-cast vehicles.


It’s becoming alarmingly commonplace to hear of such recalls. Watch out kids; it’s a big, bad world out there. Personally, Pajamadeen recalls her favorite toys as being the large cardboard boxes which refrigerators came in and which made fine dollhouses or “secret” clubhouses, and the empty Christmas wrapping paper rolls which, in a child’s mind, made imaginary swords with which to do battle with one’s siblings.

Robert Eckert, Mattel CEORobert Eckert, chairman and CEO of Mattel, who’s seen here in a 2001 Kellogg School of Management image (Northwestern University), issued a statement saying: “The safety of children is our primary concern, and we are deeply apologetic to everyone affected. . .We don’t want to have recalls, but we don’t hesitate to take quick and effective action to correct issues as soon as we’ve identified them to ensure the safety of our products and the safety of children.” Yada, yada, yada. . .What do you expect him to say?

Translate: Mattel doesn’t want to get sued if someone is injured or killed by one of their toys. China has only had quality control standards in manufacturing plants for 10 years; enforcement is believed to be somewhat spotty. And yet 80 percent of the world’s toys are made there. In this particular instance, the toys were produced by the Early Light Industrial Co., a Mattel contract manufacturing facility in China. Early Light subcontracted the painting of toy parts to Hong Li Da (HLD). While HLD was supposed to use paint supplied by Early Light, it instead used paint from an unauthorized third-party.

The larger question is really why Americans are willing to put up with inferior products manufactured overseas which could be manufactured here. Americans love those cheap Wallet World prices but you do get what you pay for. Maybe we could take a lead from our neighbors to the north. In Canada, outsourcing jobs is frowned upon and if a Canadian company outsources, they’re taxed for the import of the finished product. We apparently have low expectations when it comes to the safety of our children, our pets and ourselves, based on recent events.

For additional information regarding the toy recall, visit Mattel’s website, which bears the slogan: “The World’s Premier Toy Brands, Today and Tomorrow.” The logo ironically shows a happy little white girl, relaxing with her doll and reading a book called Samantha Learns A Lesson. The Samantha story, set in 1904, tells a tale of what it’s like to be a poor child working in a factory. Many Chinese children could probably also tell a hair-raising tale about what it’s like to work in a factory. Maybe it’s time that we learned a lesson from Walmart, Mattel, etc., about the role that outsourcing plays in the declining value of the U.S. dollar and the real cost of “cheap” goods to our economy, our safety and our health.

In related news, Zhang Shuhong, a 50-something Hong Kong businessman who ran the Lida Toy Company in the southern province of Guangdong, China was found hanged in his factory on Saturday, after last week’s Mattel recall of 1.5 million toys made in his factory which had excessive lead levels.

Get some help finding safe toys for your children.

Photo credit: DC Comics and Getty Images

Copyright © 2007


One Response to “Chinese Toys, You Get What You Pay For”

  1. pajamadeen on August 31st, 2007 6:43 am

    What other “angles”? Corporate irresponsibility + parents buying cheap toys without closely inspecting them = recipe for disaster.