On the Cusp of Holidays, More Toy Recalls [Portfolio]

  • 09 Oct 2007 at 4:45 PM
  • China

Want To Ensure Your Kid Won’t Die? It’ll Cost Ya.

carney'sthefirsttogo.jpgYou say you want to be able to buy Barbie dolls for your son without worrying that he’s going to get lead poisoning but at what cost? Toy manufacturers hoping to call parents on their collective bluff—and really actually kind of baiting them to do so—today announced that they will be complying with safety standards but it’ll come out of overly worrisome guardians’ pockets. Mega Brands, which saw one child die and 27 others suffer internal injuries* on its watch this year, manipulatively bemoaned the fact that they’ve now been forced to contract “almost 200…people that go around to factories and test…from a frequency standpoint, the cost is going to go up,”and BMO Capital Markets analyst Gerrick Johnson estimated that price points will rise from $14.99 to $19.99.
Betrothed and father-to-be John Carney said, “There’s no way in hell [he’s] willing to fork over an extra 5-spot.” Are you?
U.S. parents want safer toys, but will cost them [Reuters]
*speaking of which, our publisher just order us these and they are AWESOME. We highly recommend them. If you thought our posting schedule was erratic before, just wait.

ihadoneofthese.bmpIn honor of the upcoming holiday, Mattel’s executive vice president, Thomas Debrowski, issue an apology to China on behalf of Mattel, for a massive number of recalls on toys following the revelation that some had contained excessive levels of lead paint. “Mattel takes full responsibility for these recalls and apologizes personally to you, the Chinese people and all of our customers who received the toys,” Debrowski said in a press conference today. Then he added in a statement that the 21 million take-backs were “overly inclusive, including toys that may not have had lead in paint in excess of U.S. standards.” The reason cited for the (possibly) unnecessarily high number of recalls was that the company “puts safety first.”
So, you know, if you think about it, Mattel’s not really at fault here. If the toy-maker is guilty of anything, it’s being too cautious. And not to go there, but perhaps Mattel’s the one that deserves the apology. (Which is exactly how the DBJ’s celebrate Yom Kippur—by asking others to atone for what they’ve done to us).
Mattel apologises to China for toy recalls [Reuters]

  • 04 Sep 2007 at 10:56 AM
  • Toys

Mattel: A Few Kids Will Combust While Using Our Products

flame throw.jpg Mattel’s special way of dealing with safety concerns (blaming China, your lead-hungry children) has brought increased scrutiny on the company’s recall record.
If your children avoided lead poisoning from Mattel products, another hazard they might have to contend with is spontaneous combustion. Children bursting into flames used to be so simple – take the rollerblading Barbie recalled in the 90s that was pretty much a lighter with ambiguous plastic genitalia. The thing at least required some deliberate motion to create a spark, so it was easy to blame the pyromaniac little girls in the burn ward for inappropriately using the product, by using it at all.
Old Power Wheels mini-motor vehicles, on the other hand, occasionally burst into flames. Mattel issued a Power Wheels recall in 1998, despite the fact that the product was implicated in over 1,800 incidents of electrical problems and slightly charred offspring. The company recalled about 10 million units, but the Consumer Products Safety Commission contends that Mattel significantly stalled its recall.
Mattel nobly points to the law of large numbers, claiming that since the company sells so many products, a few of them are bound to burst into flames. Mattel also argues that it makes a lot of toys, so some of them are bound to be miniature death machines. And there’s always “inappropriate use,” don’t forget about “inappropriate use.” If little Timmy wants to be a Power Wheel mechanic, he doesn’t deserve the skin that needed graft replacements. The Consumer Products Safety Commission responds, from the Wall Street Journal:

But Thomas H. Moore, the longest serving member of the commission, has said that’s not an appropriate attitude for products that can create a clear-cut danger when they break down. “Businesses know the difference between harmless failure and hazardous failure,” Mr. Moore said in a statement posted on commission’s Web site.

Mattel cites the especial care a child must take with “ride-on toys,” citing the example of the Spinning Blades Pogo-Ball and Medieval Mace Skip-It that were initially considered to be unsafe.
Mattel Takes a Combative Stance Defending Power Wheels Safety [Wall Street Journal]

  • 04 May 2006 at 11:40 AM
  • Toys

Mi Picasso Es Su Picasso

picasso.jpgNormally, the answer to the semi-annual “who anonymously bought the astronomically expensive Picasso?” question would be “Steve Wynn.” But not this time. Picasso’s Dora Maar with Cat went to a man described by the Times as being in his late 40s, inexperienced at buying art at auction and “possibly Russian.” And that’s not the only thing he bought:

Tyco International was selling two paintings that had been at the center of a scandal when its former chairman and chief executive, L. Dennis Kozlowski, was indicted in 2002 on charges that he evaded more than $1 million in New York State taxes by having art dealers ship empty boxes to Tyco’s offices in New Hampshire while having messengers deliver the paintings to his Fifth Avenue apartment…A Monet landscape, “Near Monte-Carlo,” an 1883 seascape estimated at $2 million to $3 million, was sold $5 million to the anonymous buyer of the $95.2 million Picasso.

Mystery Bidder Spends 95 Million on a Picasso [NYTimes]

  • 18 Apr 2006 at 10:27 AM
  • Toys

Maximize Productivity (And Returns!) with… The Treadputer™

If lunch is for wimps, then so is working out while failing to make money. Enter Brad Feld, venture capitalist and inventor of the “Treadputer,” below:
Those are standard flat screens, but we’re pretty sure you could bolt three Bloomberg terminals onto that baby and be off and running (so to speak). We’ve been speculating for months about who was going to buy Bloomberg, LLC, and now we’ve got an idea: NordicTrack!
The Treadputer [Feld Thoughts via ValleyWag]