Disney launches toy-testing scheme following recalls

The Walt Disney Company is launching its own toy-testing system to handle quality-control issues after toymaker Mattel was hit by three product recalls due to harmful levels of lead paint.

The US entertainment giant will randomly test products featuring Disney characters in an unusual move for the toy industry. In the past, licensors such as Disney have allowed manufacturers to manage quality control and the manufacturers are held liable for any harm caused.

Disney chiefs made the decision last Thursday, and are expected to inform Mattel and other toy manufacturers today (September 10). Disney chairman Andy Mooney is reported to have said the plans “send the message that we are looking over their shoulders”.

The tests will focus on about 2,000 toymakers and 65,000 products each year and start within the next two weeks. They will be overseen by the company’s product integrity office, which is responsible for Disney’s safety programme.

Mattel had to pull 436,000 small toy cars based on the character Sarge from the Disney/Pixar movie “Cars” on August 14.

Toy manufacturers have stepped up their own testing systems and last week Mattel performed a U-turn by launching a print advertising campaign in the UK promoting its new testing strategy after initially claiming it was unnecessary.

The British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA) has tried to ease parental fears over toy safety by launching an online safety guide on its website.

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