It may be hard to believe, but just like other counterfeit goods, there also exists a lucrative counterfeit toy industry.
Some of the famous counterfeit toys include Frozen, Spider man, Toy Story, Ninja Turtles, Ben 10 etc. These counterfeit toys have a staggering sale and are in demand in all seasons.
Besides putting a major health risk to children, these counterfeit goods also support serious crimes and illegal activities. There are several other toys, that lack quality control procedures while manufacturing and have raised concerns for not following safety regulations.
A lot of counterfeit toys were taken, investigated and found unsafe. They had high levels of harmful chemicals and excessive amount of lead. These fake toys put a big hole in the pockets of genuine brands.
Buying a counterfeit toy can put your child’s health at serious risk, as the product may be made of poor-quality materials and may contain detachable parts which may be rusty and made of harmful chemicals.
Before buying toys, parents should pay attention to the following factors:
Price: Counterfeit toys usually cost less than the original ones, as they are made up of less expensive materials.
Pack: There is a huge difference between the packaging of counterfeit toys. They are usually packed in a rigid, sealed pack that an original product lacks.
Brand: This is difficult to make out as the original will look identical to the real. Great attention should be paid to details such as colour shade, font size, and the design of the logo as these can help you distinguish between the real and the fake.
Quality: Counterfeit toys are made of low-cost, poor-quality materials, but mainly, in some cases these substances can be toxic and harmful to children.
Before buying a toy for your child, parents should follow the below guidelines:
1. CE Mark – Check if the label bears a CE mark. However, this is not a sure shot guarantee that the product is original and safe, as the mark can be counterfeit in many cases. Check that the mark is visible, indelible and at least 5 mm in size. Even though the CE mark does not offer 100% protection against all risks, buying a product without one is not at all recommended.
2. Proper Labelling– The label must contain the name and/or company name and/ or brand, the address of the manufacturer or the person responsible for marketing the product in the Community. This hands-on information can be used if the product malfunctions or causes any kind of injury to a child.
3. Special Instructions – There should be clear warning and instructions on the toy.
4. Safety issues – The toy should not have any sharp or cutting edges, must be impact-resistant, and must not cause any injury if broken.
5. Removable parts – The removable parts must be large enough not to be swallowed by a child.
6. Non-inflammable toys – Check that the toy does not contain any substances/ preparations / parts which may become inflammable. When buying a cloth/soft toy, check that the material is made of high quality (for example fur should not come off, eyes and nose should be firmly attached, ribbons should be short, stitching should be robust, and padding should not disintegrate). The materials must also be non-flammable.
For plastic toys, ensure that quality used is of high material. Many counterfeit toys use poor quality plastic which can injure the skin and mouth lining due to manufacturing defects.
7. Heavy metals free – Check that the paints used in the toys meet the required biological tolerance limits for the eight heavy metals.
8. Check the Voltage – Electrical toys must be having a maximum voltage of 24 V and must be insulated to avoid electrostatic charge. It should not cause burns at high temperatures. Electrical toys like model trains, toy cars, robots etc. must be able to operate only with an external transformer with automatic cut-out switch at low voltage (maximum 24 V). For greater precaution and safety, battery toys are always recommended for children.
9. Age group – The pack must clearly indicate the recommended age of the child for which the toy is intended. Toys intended for children over the age of three, even if safe and legally-compliant, may, when given to younger children, have characteristics not suitable for that age, and may therefore be dangerous.
Although there are a lot of ongoing efforts to curb sales of counterfeit toys, but loopholes continue to exploit the genuine brands and safety standards. To be effective on a large scale, brand protection strategies must be applied systematically, and they must constantly be adapted by all industries.