Posts tagged as:

CPSIA and toys

September 16 roundup

by Walter Olson on September 16, 2014

  • “When I asked them why they decided to sell their [toy import] business, they said that they got out because of Proposition 65 and the CPSIA.” [Nancy Nord]
  • State tax regimes are getting more aggressive about grabbing money earned in other states [Steve Malanga, City Journal]
  • “Still can’t get over the fact that all [development] permits are discretionary in San Francisco” [@TonyBiasotti linking Mark Hogan, Boom]
  • How would American politics change if political parties could expel members, as in many countries they can? [Bryan Caplan]
  • Defenders of Wisconsin John Doe prosecutor push back against Stuart Taylor investigation [Daniel Bice, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via Althouse, more, related on "blue fist" posters and John Doe investigator, earlier]
  • “In Britain, Child’s Weight Leads to Parents’ Arrest” [New York Times in June, King's Lynn 11-year-old; also, Cadbury agrees to "stop making chocolate bars in Britain with more than 250 calories"] More: Pencil-twirling in class leads to CPS referral in New Jersey [Katherine Mangu-War, Reason]
  • Should there be judicial remedies — what kind, and for which plaintiffs — when federal spending is politicized? [Daniel Epstein, Federalist Society "Engage"]

Jill Chuckas of the Handmade Toy Alliance testifies before the Senate about the Law That Stole Christmas.

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KiteWoodcutA nonprofit in suburban Chicago each year encourages its woodworker members “to craft and donate wooden Christmas toys to less fortunate children.” After donating upwards of 700 toys a year in the past, it will have to discontinue the program in future since it can’t afford the third-party testing required under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, sponsored by area members of Congress Bobby Rush and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.). “Woodworking hobby magazines have pegged prices for third-party testing as high as $30,000 for 80 items.” Testing is particularly impractical for items made from donated/recycled wood, since each donated wood source needs to be put through separate testing. Another triumph for CPSIA! [Jenette Sturges, Sun-Times/Beacon-News]

PUBLIC DOMAIN IMAGE from John Bate’s 1635 book, The Mysteryes of Nature and Art, Wikimedia Commons.


CPSIA, uncompliable

by Walter Olson on October 29, 2010

Katherine Mangu-Ward at Reason “Hit and Run” provides two snapshots of the continuing damage being done by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, including the rage-and-despair reaction of Rick Woldenberg (, who says that the new regulations “will jack up Learning Resources’ annual compliance costs to $15 million, FAR in excess of our profits. We have no Plan B — so we are trying to get a new government.” And a commenter points to the “Criticism” and (very partial) “List of Companies Whose Closure Is Linked To CPSIA” sections of the Wikipedia entry.

Related: “Not available because of the CPSIA“: wood-and-beeswax Selecta Spielzeug Rhonda dollhouse dining room, formerly imported from Germany. Why pay a whopping testing bill to clear an innocuous product that’s at best going to sell modestly on this side of the Atlantic? []

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The website of the Golden Cockerel import firm includes a rather elaborate warning as to why its matryoshka are not meant for the under-12 set, at least not since the enactment of the calamitous Jan-Schakowsky-backed law:

the law requires each batch of toys be tested by a 3rd party laboratory to be sure they are “toy safe.” Such tests can cost well over $1000 per nesting doll set! And sometimes, as with our museum quality one-of-a-kind dolls, a “batch” consists entirely of one doll, or only a few, making it totally unfeasible to test.

CPSIA: reserving treasured toys for strictly adult use since 2008.

More: The CPSC has just sided with purported consumer groups and against pleas from the business community in adopting a broad definition of what constitute “children’s products” under the disastrous Barbara-Boxer-backed law: for example, ordinary paper clips must go through costly separate CPSIA testing when meant for kids’ use as part of a science kit with magnets and similar items [NY Times, AP/WaPo ("Kids' science kits may take hit from safety ruling"), Commissioners Anne Northup and Nancy Nord]


September 13 roundup

by Walter Olson on September 13, 2010

  • “Court Vacates $99,000 Fee to Counsel for Plaintiff Who Won $650″ [NJLJ]
  • Libel-suit target: “Author Simon Singh Puts Up a Fight in the War on Science” [Wired]
  • No, they weren’t “worst”: RIP injury lawyer who hyped “10 Worst Toys” list each Christmas [WSJ Law Blog]
  • New credit card regulations squeeze small business [John Berlau letter in Washington Post]
  • District attorney’s case intake desk should screen out many unjust prosecutions, but often doesn’t [Greenfield]
  • AGs’ campaign to drive sex pros off Craigslist has failure built in [William Saletan, Slate; LNL; Declan McCullagh]
  • “Nursing Home Company Settles $677 Million Lawsuit for $50 Million” [AP]
  • “Judge accused of sexual harassment once helped women sue” [Orlando Sentinel]

{ 1 comment } has a daily offering today (may disappear tomorrow) discussing the CPSC policy on swallowable magnets in tones of less than complete respect.

Plus: How dangerous exactly is this loose-magnet toy that CPSC saw fit to recall? [Amend The CPSIA]

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The newspaper profiles Randy Hertzler of Lancaster, Pa., whose small family-owned business imports European-made specialty toys and is reeling under the costs of the 2008 enactment. [via CPSC Commissioner Anne Northup]


Capsized by CPSIA

by Walter Olson on June 10, 2010

Dallas entrepreneur Phebe Phillips tells in this speech (PDF) why she had to get out of her successful plush animal business:

Then in 2008 and 2009 the U.S. economy tanked … retail dwindled and a new toy regulation was enacted in response to the poor quality and mass quantity oversights by some really big toy companies. BadMrsGinger4bThis new law raises the testing price for each product and in some cases, doubles or triples the costs. For some small companies, it can cost one year of total revenue just to meet the requirements of this law. The law is for any product marketed to a child age twelve and under and for any product made anywhere…even here. It has frozen many small and midsize companies leaving the companies that caused the problems in the first place as some of the only companies that can afford to stay in business. Financially, it caused me to temporarily halt my business…I changed!

Via Amend the CPSIA, which had this report on Phillips in December; earlier on CPSIA and stuffed animals here and here.

Consumer Product Safety Commission member Anne Northup has also been blogging about some of the law’s ongoing damaging effects on sellers of dolls, kids’ furniture and apparel imports.

PUBLIC DOMAIN IMAGE from Honor C. Appleton, The Bad Mrs. Ginger (Frederick A. Stokes Co., 1902), courtesy

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BadMrsGinger3bA Minnesota seller of imported and specialty playthings closes its doors, and its owner reflects on the ill-conceived Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. [Allison Kaplan/St. Paul Pioneer-Press, AmendTheCPSIA]

PUBLIC DOMAIN IMAGE from Honor C. Appleton, The Bad Mrs. Ginger (Frederick A. Stokes Co., 1902), courtesy

Why do CPSIA’s ultra-stringent regulations apply not only to items used by kids small enough to chew on toys or buttons or combs, but also to those intended for much older kids? Because of an “urban myth” developed by consumer groups, Rick Woldenberg explains.


John Stossel on CPSIA

by Walter Olson on January 15, 2010

In his show last night on “Crony Capitalism”, with CPSC Commissioner Anne Northup as a guest, he told how Mattel and Hasbro are fine with the law that is wiping out many of their smaller competitors. Other segments of the show can be watched here.


“Barred from using lead in children’s jewelry because of its toxicity, some Chinese manufacturers have been substituting the more dangerous heavy metal cadmium in sparkling charm bracelets and shiny pendants being sold throughout the United States, an Associated Press investigation shows.” [AP/]


Former Congresswoman Anne Northup, now a commissioner at the Consumer Product Safety Commission, AnimalsBall5chad an op-ed in the Journal last week on the continuing damage being wrought by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). Related: Rick Woldenberg (“Big Toy may be prospering right now, but the little guy is getting killed”). And Karen Raugust at Publisher’s Weekly has a year-end status report on the unpleasant effects of the law on various segments of the kids’ book business, including retailers, “book-plus” and novelty book makers, and one of the most seriously endangered groups, sellers of vintage children’s books.

PUBLIC DOMAIN IMAGE from Elise Bake, Der Ball Der Tiere (“The Animals’ Ball”, German, 1891), courtesy

CPSIA has come at a steep price for the Northwest Denver Toy Library, which has had to throw out nearly 400 of the 500 toys in its stock because it has no way of being sure that they comply with the 2008 federal law. [ Denver]


Rick Woldenberg casts a skeptical eye on the Toy Safety Certification Program (TSCP), a voluntary toy-safety program promoted by both the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Toy Industries Association that in some respects goes beyond even the requirements of the CPSIA. His contention: “the TSCP significantly favors mass market companies in an almost shameless way.”


The toy shelf gets barer. [Daddy Types] Related: Handmade Toy Alliance, Dan Marshall, Rick Woldenberg, Common Room.

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CPSIA’s ban on brass

by Walter Olson on November 7, 2009

By a 3-2 vote, the CPSC has confirmed that the absurd and inflexible Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act bans the sale of children’s products which contain components of conventional (leaded) brass. The vote drew dissents from commissioners Anne Northup (statement) and Nancy Nord (official comments, PDF; further statement at her blog). From the latter:

…The Commission has now very clearly determined that we do not have the flexibility under the law to make common sense decisions with respect to lead.
…I am especially concerned about what this decision means for our schools, where brass is found on desk hinges, coat hooks, locker pulls and many other items. Are schools now going to be forced to remove all brass and if so, who will bear this financial burden?

…brass is found throughout a home and removing it from toys does little in terms of removing it from a child’s environment. If brass were really harmful to children, we would be taking action to remove it from the home but no one is suggesting that there is a safety issue that needs to be addressed in this way.

Evidence of actual health risks from brass in the everyday environments of American children is, of course, anything but compelling. Rick Woldenberg has been covering the story here, here, here, and here. Greco Woodcrafting predicts rough times ahead for school bands, as well. And the WSJ editorializes today.
More: this summer the CPSC issued guidance on the closely related topic of ballpoint pens (the roller balls of which include lead alloy); the upshot was so long as manufacturers don’t primarily market any given pen design as being for kids, they’re in the clear, even if large numbers of children are among the pens’ users. (Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association petition and response, both PDF; earlier here, here, etc.) For more on that episode, see 3 Green Angels, NAM “Shop Floor” and more, Rick Woldenberg and more, and Whimsical Walney.

PUBLIC DOMAIN IMAGES from Elise Bake, Der Ball Der Tiere (“The Animals’ Ball”, German, 1891), courtesy