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It’s gonna be a cornhusk Christmas

Submitted by on Sunday, 1 June 2008 No Comment
Originally published Oct. 2, 2007,

It’s not even Halloween, but I know exactly what the guys will get for Christmas: corn-husk dolls and sock monkeys. That’s assuming I can find good-old American-made buttons for the monkeys. And non-genetically modified husks for the dolls.

It’s getting that ridiculous.I’ve always had a healthy dose of recall paranoia, dutifully registering major baby gear and steeling myself for the wave of nausea sure to come if some company announced a major flaw in something important, such as a car seat.

Never in my wildest nightmares, though, did I imagine the toy tsunami that’s slammed ashore again and again since early summer.Check out the Consumer Product Safety Commission Web site:

The tidal wave began in June, when 1.5 million Thomas the Tank Engine toys were recalled due to lead contamination. Two dozen recalls have followed since. Since the beginning of the year, I can’t think of a single major toy manufacturer with a clean record.

The culprit in many: lead paint in Chinese-manufactured toys.The funniest one, in a “how the heck could this happen?” way: RC2 Corp. sent hundreds of thousands of mea culpa Thomas toys to folks hit by the June recall. Two weeks ago, they recalled 200,000 of those for lead violations.

For me, the Fisher-Price recalls were the body blows. I have fond Fisher-Price memories from my own childhood, back when Little People were little more than carved hunks of wood, not the marketing machine – complete with supplementary DVDs and books! – they are now. It was a brand I instinctively trusted, a brand that had been with me since I was Big Guy’s age.

Et tu, Fisher-Price?

Miraculously, our toy boxes have remained unscathed by any of the recalls, despite the deep Fisher-Price/Thomas love in our household. Just lucky, I guess.

The guys’ favorite toy cell phone was recalled in May due to choking hazard, but I’d figured out long ago that the rubber antenna could be a problem and removed it. The product was endorsed by Parent Magazine.


But it does pose the question of what to do about Christmas. If Big Guy had stuck with his original wish – a bike – I’d be safe.

But now he wants a Thomas train table. They’re ungodly expensive -- $200 and up for a bare-bones model – and I’d attempt to make one myself, except I’m not remotely handy with tools.

And then I’d still have the problem of finding something to go with it. Is there a Thomas train somewhere on this planet that hasn’t been recalled? And, more importantly, will it still be safe by December.

In the midst of all this, our mailman delivered a free DVD from Fisher-Price – it was part “we’re sorry,” part a marketing ploy to push a new line for the holiday season.

I don’t want their free DVDs. I want to know that the toys I buy my kids are safe. And at this point, I don't know how they -- or any other manufacturer -- will convince me of that.

Copyright 2007 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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