The Modern Toymaker

Vince and Allison talk about design challenges that toymakers face when creating toys.


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In addition to the usual design challenges like minimizing production costs, toys have to meet particularly stringent safety standards. Toys have to be light enough to handle, but strong enough to not break when they get dropped. Toys for young children can¦t present a choking hazard. Companies are also paying more attention to the materials they use to ensure toys are not only safe and non-toxic for children but for the environment as well.

Sometimes, toys are recalled after they¦ve been released to the market because safety hazards are discovered. Earlier this year, a toy called OBall Links & Mini Rattles was recalled because the hard plastic C-links on both ends of the chain can break and create a choking hazard. A product called Snow Bikes was also recalled early this year because the front ski could crack or break causing the snow bike to stop suddenly creating a serious fall hazard and, last year, sports company Bauer had to recall a series of children¦s hockey sticks because the products contained potentially hazardous lead paint.

In most countries toys are extensively tested and have to meet a set of rigid guidelines before being certified as safe for sale. To test a toy, it is first subjected to a (use and abuse÷ test where it¦s repeatedly pulled, tested and dropped. Any small parts that come off are then subjected to (small parts tests÷ to see if they pose a choking hazard. Additional tests determine whether there are sharp edges and points that could injure a child. Paints used to color toys are also tested for heavy metals and toxic elements including lead.