Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Does Anyone Realize That the Latest Massive Toy Recall Has Nothing to Do With China?

It's news to no one at this point that Mattel is recalling more than 18 million toys worldwide, its second large recall this summer.

A couple things here caught my interest:

1) The majority of the toys this time around are being recalled because they contain small, powerful magnets that can fall out, much like the Magnetix sets that killed a kid.

I'm really glad to see more such toys off the market. HOWEVER, the timing is pretty sleazy. Lead paint in Chinese toys has been all over the news, and Mattel leads its press release with the recall of one toy that contained lead paint. Then it lauds its new system of checking and double checking the stuff it gets from those unreliable Chinese suppliers.

Then, oh, by the way, we're recalling 18.5 million Polly Pockets that we've known were dangerous for approximately eternity. They started selling toys with a better "magnet retention system" in January of this year. The only reason they're announcing a recall now is that they know 1) the public opinion of toy safely can't get any worse at the moment and 2) they can blame it on the Chinese and say, "Oh, this won't happen anymore now that we have a new system."

2) Some reports mistakenly called the magnets in the recalled toys a choking hazard. Not so. If a kid swallows two powerful magnets, they can RIP THROUGH THE KIDS' INTESTINES. I cannot post about this enough. I just got a toy catalog in the mail today that includes a building set with a ton of loose magnets, those same little metal magnets that can kill kids. Yeah, I'm going to email the company.

Mattel doesn't actually say why it's recalling the magnetic toys in its release, by the way, so it's hard to blame reporters for assuming it's a choking hazard. But you know about assuming -- makes an ass of u and me.

Update: Since writing this, I took Nutmeg to the Kohl Children's Museum where they are having an exhibit on magnets it their art activity room. None of the magnets there looked dangerous -- they were securely encased in plastic or too large to ingest. However, when I mentioned to the staff how ironic it is that this huge recall of magnetic toys happens while they have this exhibit, it was clear that the staff was clueless on any danger associated with magnets. Which means other parents must not be mentioning it either. Which means that Mattel succeeded in keeping the real reason for their big recall on the downlow.


Jeevita said...

Most people don't care why something is being recalled - just as long as they know its being recalled and they can do something about it, before moving on to the other million things they've to do...which is precisely what helps Mattel to get away with timing the recall of its magnetic toys along with the others.

Kristin said...

I think there's a serious gap in the recall reporting process. Basically, the various manufacturers simply send out one press release and expect that they've done their job with informing the public, leaving the responsibility to the media and then to the public to obtain the info.

I'm a freelance journalist and have blogged about the whole magnetix fiasco a few times. It just seems like common sense not to use "rare earth" magnets in a child's toy. (Not to mention that the "toy" is deemed appropriate for ages 3+.) DUH.

Sometimes I think we should just go back to wooden blocks and imagination....

I really like your blog, by the way. (I discovered you after Moxie Mom left a comment on my blog and I went to check her blog out. I think she found me through Blogher...)