Supply chain disruptions mean that this Christmas it could be harder to find that coveted toy. One of the possible consequences is a temptation to buy toys that just aren’t as safe, including counterfeit toys. A recent survey found that 65% of parents would buy a knock-off toy if their first choice wasn’t available. 63% said they’d buy one if the price was right.
But counterfeit toys can pose safety hazards.
What’s a counterfeit toy?
We’re not talking about Brand X here. Just as a Hydrox cookie and an Oreo cookie are both examples of sandwich cookies, there can be different brands of toys that are equally safe.
Lincoln Logs are a classic toy, but Wondertoys is another brand. They don’t pretend to be Lincoln Logs and they meet the same safety standards. They’re another option.
Counterfeit toys may call themselves Lincoln Logs even though they are not made by the company that owns that name. They may be just slightly different in shape or color. They’re probably much lower in price.
How can you make sure that your comparison shopping doesn’t leave you with a counterfeit toy?
Look for safety certification
This is the most important issue with counterfeit toys. The 14″ fashion doll that tries to deceive you into thinking you’re buying a Glitter Girls or Wellie Wisher doll may have small parts that aren’t secure or clothes treated with formaldehyde.
Check for certification before you buy. Toy counterfeiters expect consumers to think, “Oh, Lincoln Logs — I know those are safe.” They count on that reaction. But you can feel confident that any toymaker whose toys actually meet safety standards will post that information at their website and put it on their packaging. If they don’t say they meet those standards, you can be sure that they don’t.
If you’re shopping online, check the reviews for the item you’re considering.
There’s usually a reason for a lower price on an item. It might be that the item is made in China rather than the United States, so labor costs are lower. But it might also be that the paint is sprayed on instead of being electrostatically applied.
Looking at reviews for Lincoln Logs knockoffs, we found reports of everything from splintery pieces to insect infestations. Especially if the price seems too good to be true, take a little time to read the reviews. An item with lots of one or two word (“Great!”), 5-star reviews is probably paying for fake reviews.
Do a little research
Amazon, Walmart.com, and similar marketplace sites always have information about sellers. At Amazon, as you can see in the screen shot above, there is a “sold by” line on the right hand side. You may need to scroll down to see it. Click through and you’ll find the name and address of the seller, as well as more information about the company.
Here are some red flags:
- unpronounceable names
- poor English in their toy descriptions
- blurry pictures
- a large selection of random products
- no website of their own
While you might be willing to take a chance on Ansnibeww shoes, it’s probably not worth taking a chance on toy safety.