MADELEINE BRAND, host:
From NPR News, this is DAY TO DAY.
The toy industry is rethinking how it does business. This comes after the recalls of some 17 million toys made in China. Today the Walt Disney company announced it'll start doing its own testing.
MARKETPLACE's Amy Scott is here now. And Amy, what exactly is Disney planning to do?
AMY SCOTT: Well, you know Disney is, of course, primarily in the media businesses. But it also licenses thousands of manufacturers to make toys related to its movies and television shows. And one of those manufacturers happens to be Mattel, which just announced its third product recall of the summer last week, because of lead paint contamination.
So today Disney is warning those manufacturers it will start looking over their shoulders. A spokesman told me that Disney will be focusing on about 65,000 toys that could pose safety risks to children and infants. And it will be randomly pulling those toys from the shelves for testing.
BRAND: Right. Because when you see a Disney toy, you don't think, oh, this is was made by Mattel. You think Disney. You think Cinderella, Disney.
SCOTT: Right. Right.
BRAND: So is this unusual?
SCOTT: Well, generally, it is the manufacturers who are responsible for toy safety. And Disney was careful to point out that that's still the case.
But MARKETPLACE spoke to Chris Burn today, who's an independent toy industry analyst. He says anybody who's involved in this industry is at risk here.
Mr. CHRIS BURN (Toy Industry Analyst): Everybody is nervous, that they can't let their brand be diluted or harmed in any way. So I think it's a level of security that they're taking to ensure themselves and their consumers. And yes, hopefully, they get some public relations benefit out of it as well. But that's what's needed right now.
SCOTT: And other non-manufacturers are taking similar steps. The New York Times reports that the retailer Toys 'R' Us has hired engineers to basically take cartloads of toys off the shelves and test them at independent labs. And marketers like Sesame Workshop and Nickelodeon are doing their own testing as well.
BRAND: So all this extra testing might turn up a whole bunch of extra problems, right? Just in time for the holiday shopping season?
SCOTT: Well, it certainly seems like a possibility. But this is still random testing that we're talking about. And one expert I spoke to says that's how a lot of these toys are getting through in the first place. Because manufacturers haven't been testing, you know, every single batch of toys. Some subcontractors are tempted to cut corners. But you know, it's interesting; in terms of holiday shopping, so far analysts say they haven't seen any real decline in toy sales as a result of these recalls and the bad publicity. But summer is typically a pretty slow time of year for toy sales anyway. So the real proof will be in the coming months. One note for consumers, though; toys could cost a bit more this season as a result of the extra expense of all this testing.
BRAND: Well, thank, Amy. That's Amy Scott of public radio's daily business show MARKETPLACE. It's produced by American Public Media.
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