September 18, 2008
…From Copycat Design?/Countereit? or a “Re-make”
“Important Safety Notice: Buyers Beware!”
We prepared quite a list of specific points to look for when buying children’s toys. But really, you must work out what is the best option for you and your kids. Of course, we are happy to give specific answers to your queries.
Our advice is always:
1. Ensure what you are buying meets all safety and regulatory standards – as a very minimum! Remember the toxic toys saga of 2007? Some of the worlds’ largest toy makers, did not know that their items – apparently passing rigorous and regular “Safety audits” – were anything but “safe”!
If a small time toy designer has their items made in a third world workshop, can they do better than the world’s biggest toy suppliers?
What safety checks have been performed and by who?
Wholesalers Note: Selling an item that fails your local standards also makes you personally liable for those infringements.
2. Check the bona fides of the people you are dealing with. What is their longevity, reliability and ethics? What are others saying about them? Find someone who has that item and check it yourself.
3. Check the materials: Are they safe? Is it of natural fibres or a synthetic blend? How long will it last? Where does the timber come from?
Environmental destruction and loss of life from logging in the third world is all too common. Next time a mud slide wipes out a village, will you be able to look at your children’s toys knowing you have not contributed to that?
4. Check the name is the brand you were expecting.
5. Check where the item is made: if this isn’t clearly stated, why? If the supplier won’t say where it is made, what else are they not telling you?
6. When you purchase, do not hesitate to use your right to return the item for a full refund should you not be completely satisfied.
All the best. We look forward to your comments.
eptember 18, 2008
Important Safety Notice: Buyers Beware!
A number of our trade customers have brought to our attention that there is a ‘new’ children’s play tent – a ‘Teepee’ no less – being promoted on-line and to wholesalers, but we reckon it’s not in the same play room. This happens periodically, but it may be time to put some comments up for your consideration.
Copycat Design?/Counterfeit? or a “Re-make” of a traditional idea? We have received emails, pointing out there appears to be a remarkable number of similarities with many of the design and structural characteristics of our icon children’s Teepee tent – an item we first made for our youngests’ 4th birthday in 1990.
We have seen this tent. And frankly, while the photos on a website indicate significant duplication of design and style, perhaps it is an example where website photos just cannot give the full picture of quality, materials and longevity. This Teepee has a number of important safety and regulatory issues that it fails to meet – - and this must worry us all.
Buyers – just be a little careful.
For us, every aspect of making and supplying toys has to considered:
* the quality and probable longevity of our children’s favourite things,
* the materials used, * the effect on the environment, and
* the lives and welfare of the people making what we buy.
We have never accepted that other people’s lives and environment is an irrelevant casualty of our kids’ toys and play time. Or that we can profit more by taking whatever shortcuts we think we can get away with.
That’s OK for us – but only you can decide what is best for your children.
Continue reading “Important Safety Notice: Buyers Beware!”………
Many of our trade customers bring a life-time of experience to their toy enterprises. Here’s one:
“I have always believed that if people put the same amount of effort into doing something honest and original instead of working so hard to rip someone off, they would no doubt meet with great success. Instead these people, stand to do no more than bastardise a solid market and position themselves as no better than a cheap generic alternative. In our business we are interested only in aligning ourselves with flagship products from flagship producers. This is why we have a home for your products and not the likes of these others……and don’t let them get you down……T” (rural NSW)
Continue reading Comments of some trade customers of Dobbin and Drum Toys…….
Washing your Teepees
We don’t recommend full scale washing of the Teepees, however, an email from Ilona told us of the success she had in removing chocolate cake from a printed teepee.
June 13, Ilona wrote: “A cold gentle cycle with woolwash and a little preen on the chocolate and the teepee came up beautifully with print intact and no running of leather. Very happy thanks.”
Toys are not always made in ethical, toxic-free environments. The information below just goes to show there is more to toy-making than meets the eye.
Corruption risks disregard for Safety Standards
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao says that corruption may destroy the Chinese communist party and the entire government of China, calling it a “life and death struggle”. Among other things, corruption is a major cause of social unrest, results in the poor enforcement of food and safety standards and disregard for workplace safety.
ABC news reports, 23/6/08
Corruption doesn’t only affect Chinese made toys, in her book, Red China Blues, Jan Wong details how toys are a major industry for prison labour. Prisoners all over the world are engaged in useful work as “rehabilitation”. Unfortunately, in China, large numbers of people are in jail for “political re-education” rather than because they are criminals, as we usually understand the word. Where do your children’s toys come from? How are they made? And what impact does all this have on the lives and environment of those making them?
Also, Anita Chan’s Blood, Tears and Toys makes a very sober assessment of China-made toys.
For us, toy safety doesn’t just mean inside the home where the items are used, nor just in the workshop, but also the environment, where the materials come from and how we use our ‘waste’.
Recently we were asked if we treated our fabric with flame retardant Our answer was “No”. The materials we use; solid cottons, leather and wool are not flammable like synthetics and plush materials!
In his National Geographic article THE POLLUTION WITHIN, David Ewing Duncan covers the dangers of chemicals in everyday products very well…..
Thanks to modern chemistry, eggs don’t stick to the pan, underarms are fresh all day, SUVs hit 60 in six seconds.
But such convenience has a price: Chemicals that suffuse modern life—from well-known toxins to newer compounds with unknown effects—are building up in our bodies and sometimes staying there for years.
We recommend sourcing your non-toxic, ethically-made toys from reliable toy-makers.
Words on Toy Safety
You’ll be aware that there has been a large amount of disquiet over the quality of toys imported into Australia: their safety, the presence of harmful substances, built-in design faults, etc. You will also be aware that we make everything we sell here in Brisbane, under our scrutiny and with our consistent and direct involvement.
We have never avoided spending money in order to use the very best of materials, the best construction techniques, and to input the time to do a task as well as we possibly can. Further, many of the materials we use will be found in every child’s clothes cupboard; the arts and crafts room of every kindy, pre-school, and school; and hopefully in every homes’ playroom – throughout the country.
Does this make it safe? We have often discussed the safety issues of our materials with our suppliers, and with the present hullabaloo, we have again been at their doors. From a diligent reading of the published data, almost every ingredient we use is chemically inert and nontoxic; releasing nothing for ingestion, inhalation or absorption; and with no detectable transmigration of any of their component chemicals. The exception may be the “head-space gases” that different glues, fabric paint and cleaning solutions release while they are drying or evaporating. (Note: Perfume is a liquid that produces “head-space gas”.) Is this an issue? We don’t believe it is. Toxicologically, the substances we use that may release vapours, are considered “safe” (with due regard to ventilation when actually being used and/or applied – by us), but also because within the elapse-time between us using those ingredients and the item reaching you, all discernible smells (i.e. chemicals), will have evaporated. (i.e. reduced to zero.)
In summary, I would suggest, that our toys are as safe and well made as any available – anywhere. We work with due care and attention to the components, the techniques and methodology, our workshop health and safety, the environment where our materials come from, and the future impact on both the small environment (where your kids are playing) and the wider physical and social environment (where we all live).
I cannot let this opportunity go past without reiterating that while we are very proud to make all our items here, we do employ people from all over the world. Our workshop is a very lively, multicultural, noisy, chaotic and energetic place. We delight in giving a lot of people their first job in Australia. We help with English, accommodation, finding better and more appropriate work (a dentist from Sudan can be taught to make reasonably good kid’s drums, but he is a dentist!), etc. We write references and take people to job interviews – thereby often losing our very best staff.
Please, encourage your customers to always take a critical look at what they buy and keep an eye on it throughout its working life. There is no substitute for active and continuous parental involvement. Please educate your customers not to buy junk, disposable toys, wherever they’re made. None of us should be paying the price for this – for ourselves and our children; for the people who work their lives away in appalling sweat shops churning this awful stuff out; and the world at large. If kids don’t learn to love and respect their favourite toys – or maybe more likely: if toys don’t last long enough for your kids to love, respect and cherish them – will they ever learn to love, respect and cherish the world around them?
Thank you for your support in the past, thank you for continuing to buy locally made – and with Christmas nearly on us, we are getting pretty busy – so have you worked out what you need from us yet?
- Mervyn Langford (for and on behalf of Dobbin and Drum Toys)
PS: Of course, if you have a particular query about a specific component of our items, please don’t hesitate to ask.