Tag Archives: kids toys

18 million more toys recalled by Mattel

Hot on the heels of the massive recall of Dora and Sesame Street toys from 2 weeks ago, Mattel announced today another massive recall of children’s toys. Brands affected include Polly Pocket, Barbie and Batman toys.

In addition to the lead paint problem identified a few weeks ago, these products have problems with magnets coming loose. When more than one magnet is swallowed, the magnets can attract each other and cause intestinal perforation or blockage, which can be fatal.

This is getting ridiculous. If you are in the U.S., you might consider signing this petition.

Details of the recall are on the Mattel website.

Update August 15
Mattel has posted photos and descriptions of all the toys recalled.

List of toys recalled by Mattel

As you may have now heard, there is a massive recall of children’s toys happening in Canada. The culprit is unsafe levels of lead used in the paint by Chinese manufacturers who created the toys. Popular kids characters Elmo and Dora are 2 lines affected by the recall.

The National Post has printed a complete list of all toys recalled in Canada.

Mattel has also added a recalled toy finder to their website, although it is the US corporate site. Not sure if all the model numbers match up for Canada.

First Thomas, then Veggie Booty. Now Dora and Elmo. 2007 is the summer of kids recalls.

More tech fun for toddlers

While reading an article on when kids are ready for computers at Parenting.com, I came across Kneebouncers.com with some ultra-simple games (activities really) for The Girl.

We’ve played games online before. The CBC Kids site has some good games and activities (check out the art machine. It’s pretty fun to play with, even for us big kids). But overall most game sites for toddlers still require some pretty dexterous mouse moving and The Girl tends to get easily frustrated.

The nice thing about the Kneebouncers site is that all the games are keyboard based – really, they are any key based. Hit any key and something happens. Some of the activities are like a virtual jack-in-the-box, which made The Girl howl. She also liked the music machine. Choose a tune and an instrument and bang away at the keyboard.

The Underwater Adventure game at Kneebouncers was a tad weak, but other than that, The girl and I had a good 15 minutes of fun playing together at the computer. And this time, she was in control of the mouse and keyboard and didn’t get frustrated by the experience.

Scratch: computer programming for kids

Scratch logo

In my other, “non-Dad” life I work in the field of Educational Technology at a post-secondary institution. Last week I was away at an EdTech conference and learned about a fun new tool called Scratch.

Aimed at budding geeks between 8-16 and developed by M.I.T., Scratch is a simple computer programming language and development environment that kids are using to create their own computer applications. In their own words:

As young people create projects in Scratch, they learn many of the 21st century skills that will be critical to success in the future: thinking creatively, communicating clearly, analyzing systematically, using technologies fluently, collaborating effectively, designing iteratively, learning continuously.

There are some fun applications being built by kids using Scratch, like the very trippy Bloing Gloing to classic games like a Scratch version of Tetris.

If you’ve got a budding programmer in your family, check out Scratch.

Living in a Pantone pink No. 241 world

Pantone pink No. 241…it’s the official shade of pink that Disney uses in their massively popular Princess line. And we seem to be awash in it these days with The Girl.

Christmas and birthday this year brought with it a slew of pink Princess branded products. To be fair, there was also some lavender, but for the most part The Girl’s playroom resembles the inside of a Pepto Bismal bottle. We are surrounded by Princesses.

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A Victory for DAD’s

I meant to blog about this last week when I first received the following notice from Dads and Daughters.

This fall, Hasbro plans to start marketing—to girls as young as six—a line of dolls based on The Pussycat Dolls, a six-woman music group that performs highly eroticized dance routines and songs, and helped launch a sexual cabaret show in Los Angeles.

Act now to urge Hasbro President and CEO Alfred J. Verrecchia to put his own granddaughter’s face in the picture and reverse the company’s decision to market these dolls. Join Dads & Daughters and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood to preempt an irresponsible effort to create and promote unhealthy, hyper-sexualized toys for elementary school age girls.

However, before I had a chance to blog about this, Hasbro had already received enough mail to back down from their decision. A few minutes ago, DADS issued the following email followup.

After a grassroots letter-writing initiative from Dads & Daughters and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood , Hasbro, Inc. announced today that it will halt plans to market—to girls as young as six—a line of dolls based on The Pussycat Dolls, a six-woman music group that performs highly eroticized dance routines and songs.

The company issued the following statement:

“Hasbro and Interscope have jointly agreed that Hasbro will not move forward with the line of dolls based on the recording group, The Pussycat Dolls. Interscope’s current creative direction and images for the recording group are focused on a much older target than we had anticipated at the time of our original discussions, thereby making a doll line inappropriate for Hasbro.” (Note: Interscope is the record label that created and manages the Pussycat Dolls group.)

DADs President Joe Kelly called Hasbro’s decision a victory for families and responsible corporate practice. “We asked Hasbro executives to imagine encouraging their own six-year-old daughters and granddaughters to engage in developmentally unhealthy behavior. It appears they did that, and then made the right decision for their families, our families, and the company.”

DADs encourages people who care about children to mail or fax letters of thanks to Hasbro President and CEO Alfred J. Verrecchia at 1027 Newport Avenue, Pawtucket, RI, 02862-1059 or fax 401-727-5544.

I’m a big fan of the work of Dads and Daughters, a non-profit in the US that is dedicated to helping Dads of girls actively engage in their daughter’s lives, and fight against cultural messages that devalue girls and women. if you are a DAD, I encourage you to check them out.

Nice work, DADS!

Toy Advice Part II

In my quest for new toys for the girl I’ve stumbled upon something very interesting at our local Y – a toy library – and wondering why the heck I haven’t heard of this thing before.

The concept sounds great. Kick in $35 a year and, just like a regular library you get to sign out new toys for a set amount of time and let your kids take them for a test drive.

We’ll see if the execution is as good as the concept. I have to admit, in my mind I keep having visions of a 20 year old metal pedal car with twisted rusty metal bits jutting out from the bumper or a doll missing one arm. Hopefully, the toys are quality and in good shape. We’ll see on Saturday.

Toy Advice

Hey Dads…I’m looking for some toy recommendations.

The girl is 27 months old and seems to be getting bored of her toys. I’m looking for something to spice things up for her and am looking for suggestions. What toys have worked for you and what would you avoid?

We’re heading into summer, so in addition to some good age appropriate rainy day toys, I am looking for a few more outside toys. Being that I am a bit of a Footie Fool we’ve already got soccer covered (Christine Sinclair beware!) And, being that I am Canadian, we’ve also got some hockey gear, although the roofer’s dog had a bit of a chew on one of the sticks so I’ve got to replace them. I’m thinking one of those little basketball hops, but maybe that is a bit beyond her right now.

Any suggestions?