Mattel Inc., the world's largest toy maker, was forced to announce another recall of products made in China because of excessive amounts of lead paint, dealing a blow to its reputation on the eve of the critical holiday season.
The recall of some 800,000 toys in the Barbie, GeoTrax and Bongo Band lines was announced late Tuesday.
It covers 675,000 Barbie accessories sold between October 2006 and August of this year. No Barbie dolls were included in the action.
The recall also included 90,000 units of Mattel's GeoTrax locomotive line and about 8,900 Big Big World 6-in-1 Bongo Band toys, both from the company's Fisher-Price brand. The Big Big World products were sold nationwide from July through August of this year while the GeoTrax toys were sold from September 2006 through August of this year.
Mattel's last recall, announced on Aug. 14, covered about 19 million toys worldwide. They included Chinese-made toys that either had excessive amounts of lead paint or had small magnets that could easily be swallowed by children.
Mattel is eager to convince its customers that it is taking aggressive action.
It was caught by surprise the first time — when it was forced to recall Fisher Price toys in early August. But since then, the company says, it has been testing everything and letting the public know whenever it finds something bad.
"As a result of our ongoing investigation, we discovered additional affected products. Consequently, several subcontractors are no longer manufacturing Mattel toys. We apologize again to everyone affected and promise that we will continue to focus on ensuring the safety and quality of our toys," said Robert Eckert, chairman and chief executive of El Segundo, Calif.-based Mattel.
This recall, though it covers 800,000 toys, is the smallest.
The bulk of the recall is for Barbie accessories as it covers seven product lines, including the Barbie Dream Puppy House — which has lead paint on the toy dog but nowhere else; and the Barbie Dream Kitty Condo — which has lead paint solely on the cat. In both cases the house's windows, doors, and drinking dishes are safe. But there is lead paint on the optional Table and Chairs Kitchen Playset.
The news, along with other recent recalls of tainted Chinese toys from other toy makers, could also make parents even more nervous about shopping for toys this holiday season.
With more than 80 percent of toys sold worldwide made in China, toy sellers are also concerned shoppers will shy away from toys this year's holiday season.
The sector has struggled for years to maintain market share as children abandon toys at a younger age in favor of electronic products such as computer games, MP3 players, etc.
Coupled with recalls, the toy industry comes under greater strain.
In June, toy maker RC2 Corp. voluntarily recalled 1.5 million wooden railroad toys and set parts from its Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway product line. The company said the surface paint on certain toys and parts made in China between January 2005 and April 2006 contains lead, affecting 26 components and 23 retailers.
In July, Hasbro Inc. recalled faulty Chinese-made Easy Bake ovens, marking the second time the iconic toy had been recalled this year.
A Chinese quality official said Wednesday that the country is investigating the latest recall.
Wang Xin, an official with the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine, said the agency, which oversees all products made in China, is trying to get details on when the toys were made and the manufacturers involved.
From NPR reports and The Associated Press