Toy makers stuck on naughty, not so nice

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What ever happened to “play nice?”
News sources quote a Chinese safety official with the “General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine” (whew!) as saying that discussion with the United States over how much lead paint could be used in toys were being worked out by product safety officials in both countries.
Get that? “How much.”
Here’s a thought: How about “none?”
Worse yet, toy manufacturers skate for years using cheap foreign factories that have been proven beyond a shadow of doubt to fail to implement safety standards, and instead of taking a pinch less profit, they have instead decided to punish consumers by further raising prices to fix this mess.
Proving, however, that even safety scrooges believe in miracles, the head of China’s product safety agency claimed recently that any Chinese-made toys children receive for Christmas this year will be safe.
He’s pledging that problems over the use of lead paint in a plethora of playthings will be resolved in time for holiday exports.
Sure. I’m supposed to believe that the same toy industry that couldn’t produce enough Tickle-Me-Elmo dolls or Nintendo Wiis to stock the shelves for previous holidays (despite knowing months in advance there would be shortages) is suddenly going to be able to regroup, revamp and reproduce virtually the entire North American toy stock in the next 60 days?
Color me unimpressed. Perhaps I will be accused of being too cynical, but I’m not about to feel safe buying Chinese products just because a communist country that has shown previous complete disregard for safety standards says it is turning over a new (probably lead-lined) leaf this late in the game.
Presuming, that is, that “the game” isn’t recalled, too.
My children are slightly older and thus, not much inclined to chew their toys anymore. Generally speaking. That said, many of the children in my life whom I adore are still at risk.
A dear friend of mine is a train fanatic. As such, he has amassed quite a collection of Thomas the Tank Engine and similar little wooden trains.
As Thomas and his ilk retail for only slightly less than what a real train would set you back, I think my little friend’s parents were well within their rights to assume his toys were safe.
Recall. Instead, they now get to explain why he can no longer play with Thomas. Sure, someone will probably reimburse them for the cost of hundreds of dollars in toys, but it begs a bigger question: How do you tell your little angel that Thomas is going bye-bye because HE MIGHT KILL YOU?
Who is going to compensate for the heartbreak of taking away favorite toys? For all the time parents have to spend combing through toy boxes, bedrooms and in between car seats for the lead-paint contaminated toys? (Answer: No one.)
All this begs the bigger question: Who will help Santa save Christmas?
The jolly old elf outsourced the actual making of toys long ago. Modern children wanted Bratz dolls and video games, not wooden trucks, rag dolls and hobby horses.
It has long been known that Santa relies heavily on shipments from major toy manufacturers and retailers to fill shortfall at the North Pole. The elves are basically in the shipping and handling trade at this point.
Now, with the cheap plastic bauble pipeline to China effectively shut down, there is only one thing to do to save the gifting portion of Christmas for the kids: Call out the grandparents.
Crafty. For years, the knitting and sewing grandmothers have essentially been sidelined by the lust for cheaply made plastic goods. No hand-knit sweaters, lovingly crafted rag dolls or hand-sewn doll wardrobes have been seen around these parts.
Grandfathers of yore could be counted on to craft doll cradles, toy trains and go-carts in crafty backyard woodshops. All those handy grandfathers were laid off in the wake of demand for massive plastic playhouses and hand-held video games.
I suspect this year that “Made in China” may translate into “left at store.”
As a result, if you’re lucky, you may be casting about for a grandparent (or similarly handy loved one who hasn’t taken up world travel or Tai-bo) in order to fill those stockings this holiday season.
So forget how many shopping days are left until Christmas. This year, it may well be how many crafting days are left. So let’s get back to basics and return to the spirit of the gifting portion of the holidays.
Nothing says love like safe, simple and thoughtful homemade, home-baked or handcrafted gifts. Let’s get back to giving gifts where the thought, rather than the marketing and public relation campaign, really does count.
With roughly eight weeks left until Christmas, we don’t have much time, so let’s get the lead out.
Literally.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt reminds

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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