Toy companies getting testy

Alisa Roth Sep 10, 2007


Scott Jagow: Disney isn’t going to sit by and hope that toy companies get it right when it comes to safety. To this point, Disney has relied on the manufacturers, like Mattel, to check for lead paint and other problems in toys featuring Disney characters.

But today, Disney officials will announce a plan to start testing toys themselves. This will include spot-checks of items already on the shelf. And Disney isn’t the only one doing this. Alisa Roth explains.

Alisa Roth: Toys “R” Us is hiring engineers to take random “shopping trips” at its stores. They’ll take the toys to labs and test them for lead and other dangers.

Toys “R” Us joins Wal-Mart, which announced last month that it’ll be doing more independent testing off its shelves.

Chris Byrne is a toy analyst who says these kinds of random checks should help — at least a little.

Chris Byrne: It’s another level of testing that’s going into the system. And I think that combined with stepped-up testing at the factories at all stages of manufacturing, it’s just one more level of security for consumers.

Even so, he says it’s better to catch the problems before the toys leave manufacturing sites in Asia.

And then there’s the price. Nobody knows how much all these added checks will cost. Disney guesses it’ll be in the millions. And in any case, Byrne says he’s sure toys will get more expensive as a result.

In New York, I’m Alisa Roth for Marketplace.

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