Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Yes, it's made in China, no it's not chock full of poison

Many people have developed an aversion to Chinese made toys in the past couple of years.
The news reports of unsafe toys almost always refer to toys that are made in China, so why wouldn't people put two and two together and come to the conclusion that Chinese made toys are unsafe?
Well, let's look into that a bit. Here at YoYo Joe's Toys & Fun, safety of the toy is one of the primary things we look for when checking out a new toy. We get e-mails from the Consumer Products Safety Comission anytime there is a recall of any toy, and we keep on top of it. Since we've opened in November, we've had no toys that we carry been subject to recall. We also seek out toys made in the USA, and have some awesome items we carry that are made in the USA (Most of our books, Yo-Yo Jam yo-yos, Lunastix juggling sticks, KEVA wooden planks, Melissa & Doug cardboard puzzles, Gamewright games, Briarpatch games, Make-A-Plate kits, Flying Turtles & more) as well as toys made in the EU (Bruder, Playmobil, etc) - but the vast majority of what we sell are made in China.
Don't make the mistake of assuming that all toys made in China are subject to the same conditions of manufacture. Most of the bigger toy companies, companies like Melissa & Doug, send employees to live in China and keep tabs on the manufacturing of toys. The mistakes that have been made in China generally occur when a company farms out the manufacture of a product with little or no controls on how it's made.
There's also a wide variety of factories in China - some of the best made toys we sell come from China. Take Blue-Orange Games as an example. Their games are made in China - many of them from wood. In addition to making sure all their games are safe - they are extremely active in protecting our environment. They are the only toy company that I'm aware of with a plan to replant trees they use for production. For each tree they use to produce games, they replant two. Read their policy here. They won the first "Green Toy Company" Award from Dr. Toy in 2007 in recognition of their environmental awareness. It would be a shame to completely ignore their products based on country of manufacture. The miYim soft organic toys we just got in stock are made in China, but you'd be hard pressed to find a plush company with a bigger dedication to the safety and quality of it's materials.
The simple fact is that companies feel pressure to move manufacturing to China in order to maintain competitiveness in terms of price. Things are changing in China - both because of the safety concerns that have arisen over the past couple of years and by the staggering growth their economy has seen over the past ten years. Will that just cause a move in manufacturing to another country? Possibly - I've seen more "Made in Vietnam" tags on my clothes over the past couple years. Will it cause a reversal and move manufacturing back to the USA? I certainly hope so, as part of our mission here is to shop local - keeping money as close to home as possible - but we also have a responsibility to make sure that the toys we sell are also fun and within the price range of our customers.
So, when shopping for good, quality toys, don't dismiss 'made in China' out of hand - use it as one of the factors when considering your purchases.

1 comment:

Pufferbellies Toys and Books said...

Excellent, educational post. We hear from customers fairly often that they don't want to buy toys made in China. I respect that, and we do have lots of US- and European-made toys available. On the other hand, I usually try to dig a little deeper and find out why those customers feel the way they do -- a lot of times, I'm able to allay particular concerns with what I know about the manufacturers we deal with. There are so many careful, conscientious companies making wonderful products in China, but it's an easy conclusion to jump to that all China-made toys are unsafe or somehow bad. Also, many of the great fun toys we sell would be considerably more expensive if they were made in the US or in Europe -- and that's definitely something to keep in mind.

Please keep up the great work on this blog!!