Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Other Toy Story - Death Shadows Massive Recall of China-Made Toys

The reported suicide of a toy factory owner in China happened just a few days before Mattel was set to announce a second round of recalls for its Fisher-Price line of pre-school toys this month. Already 1.5 million toys, syndicating Nickelodeon's Dora the Explorer, and Sesame Street's Big Bird and Elmo characters, were pulled off store shelves early August after fears that the products' paint coating contained too much lead.

California toy giant Mattel is expected to suffer an estimated $30 million in losses over the 1st round of recalls. The second round figures have not been announced as of writing nonetheless millions of dollars are believed to be at stake as well.

It is regarded that children exposed to dangerous levels of lead suffer behavioral, learning and health problems. For pre-schoolers, who have a penchant for putting things in their mouths, lead poisoning from contaminated toys could be imminent. Knowing this, Mattel's actions can easily be appreciated.

China-made products have recently come under fire for questionable components that pose life and health risks to consumers. Despite that, a significant number of American and other G8-country companies operate or otherwise offshore their productions in China because of the low labor costs. In a recent study minimum wage in some provinces in China go as low as $40-50 per month. It's appalling to say the least.

The upcoming holidays will reveal whether products made in China will overcome these recent string of quality and risk issues. Toys are supposed to be sources of fun and enjoyment. Behind the making of toys however, the story is not as heartening.

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