Trends From Toyland: Step 2's Gender Free Kitchens & Retro Diner

Step 2 is continuing their wonderful line of gender free kitchens.  To their credit these kitchens also have some sound effects–but not overly intrusive bossy instructions (an unfortunate trend in this category).  For the holidays, Step 2 will also have a new Retro Diner, complete with a cooking side and a two person “booth” side.  Both boys and girls will love this pretend setting.  The retro diner styling (complete with licks of red–our favorite) looks fresh and fun.  On the upside, the company is also phthalates free. The company is also working to address the issue with the Infantino toy line– a company they recently purchased.We were also delighted to report that the company took our concern over their small plastic hot dogs and french fries to heart. The hot dog is now in a bun (much larger) and the french fries are being combined so that they are also larger.  All good!    

Kudos to Toys R Us and Wal-Mart

We were delighted with today’s news that both TRU and Wal-Mart have raised the bar on safety standards for toys.  Not waiting for Congress to act, these two super retailers are moving the industry along in producing safer products.Both retailers are joining California in banning phthalates (a softener added to plastics that has been linked to serious health risks) and reducing the levels of surface coated lead way below the current federal standard of 600 ppm (parts per million) to 90 ppm.  What’s left?  We will continue to call for the same reduction in embedded lead.  Only the state of Illinois regulates the levels of embedded lead (requiring toys sold in the state to have levels below 600 ppm).  The CPSC reports that a child died from lead poisoning after ingesting a charm that had excessive levels of embedded lead.  This is a real risk that also needs to be addressed in all products for children.We need the government to follow the market–set the standards and require mandatory testing. 

LEGO joins companies complying with new safety requirements

images1.jpgWe’re delighted to announce that LEGO has sent in safety verification forms for the products that had been awarded Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Awards for 2008. They include:

Hogwarts Castle, Ultimate Lego Duplo Building Set, A World of LEGO Mosaics, Monster Dino, Tiny Turbos, Tiger Shark Attack, Aquabase Invasion, King’s Castle Siege and Fire Station.

The form asks that companies verify that their products are lead free (surface coated and embedded) and phthalates free.

So far the companies complying with our new Safety Requirements are a very exclusive club of three:

Edushape, Publication International and Lego.

For more information about our new protocol please visit our website,

Lead in Toys: Companies Complying with Zero Tolerance

A few weeks ago we announced that going forward companies would have to comply with our new safety guidelines when submitting a toy for review. We now require companies to sign off that their product has ZERO lead and ZERO phthalates. This means that the product may not have surfaced coated or embedded lead. Currently the federal government allows up to 600 ppm of surface coated lead and has no regulations as to embedded lead or phthalates. For more details on the differences between the two types of lead, visit We have also indicated to past award winners that if they would like to be listed on a lead free list, they need to supply us with the form.

So far the number of companies that have complied: zero.

We will keep you posted. We will start posting the names of the companies that do comply. A number of companies have been in touch to let us know that they are working on it – but as of today, we have not received a single signed form.