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Toy companies not cooking with vinyl

A girl plays with a toy tea set from Green Toys Inc., maker of eco-friendly toys.

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Scott Jagow: The world's largest toy fair begins Sunday in New York -- 15,000 buyers come to this show looking for the next Tickle Me Elmo or what have you.
Ordinarily, we wouldn't spend much time talking about it, except that toy safety was such an issue last year. And at this fair, we'll see the first toys made without PVC, otherwise known as vinyl. Stacey Vanek-Smith has more.


Stacey Vanek-Smith: Activist groups say vinyl often contains lead and other toxins. That has toy makers unveiling playthings made of organic or recycled materials.

Natural toys got a big boost over the holiday season, but are they just a fad?

Richard Gottlieb: I wouldn't see that as a fad. That's just too fundamental.

Industry consultant Richard Gottlieb points out that retailers are responding to consumer worries, too. Target, Sears and Wal-Mart all have plans to stop carrying toys with vinyl in them.

Gottlieb: I think that we're in a huge watershed period for the industry in terms of what toys are made out of.

And that could be a boon for companies like Green Toys incorporated, which offers several vinyl alternatives. Robert Von Goeben is one of the founders:

Robert Von Goeben: Consumer nowadays are looking at toys the way they looked at food 10 years ago. And they're starting to think about the specific ingredients in toys the way they think about food.

Von Goeben says he's been getting calls from other toy companies asking about Green Toys' vinyl alternatives.

I'm Stacey Vanek-Smith for Marketplace.

About the author

Stacey Vanek Smith is a senior reporter for Marketplace, where she covers banking, consumer finance, housing and advertising.

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