Holiday toys are coming in once more. The reality is that, like any other product, there are always missteps and controversies that come along with them. Whether it’s the case of dangerous fidget spinners or holiday toys in hot water. Let’s take a look at 5 controversies from this year alone, just in time for the holiday season.
1. Holiday Hatchimals That Don’t Hatch
Dubbed the hottest toys of 2016, Hatchimals have now become famous this year for a class-action lawsuit. The lawsuit in question was filed on behalf of Jodie Hejduk, a Hatchimals buyer from Bakersfield, California. “The egg didn’t hatch,” one Amazon review flagged by the lawsuit read. “My girl was so excited to unpack it. The noise and the blinking eyes were so cute. However after waiting for 2 days, holding it, playing with it, rubbing it, tilting it …..it still didn’t hatch.”
However, the case was later voluntarily withdrawn by the plaintiff due to Spin Master’s immediate response to the complaints of many customers. This was assured by additionally doubling their customer care team and addressing many of the problems consumers had with the toys.
“Spin Master takes great care and pride in its products and values its customers. With a popular toy like Hatchimals, it was unfortunate that we were not better able to anticipate the influx of customer questions that would arise over the holiday period,” said Ben Gadbois, COO, and Global President, Spin Master Ltd.
2. Martin Luther toys and Anti-Semitism
Playmobil, one of Germany’s leading toy manufacturers, rolled out a 3-inch plastic figure of Martin Luther back in 2015 to promote the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Apparently, all was going fine until Micha Brumlik, a retired Frankfurt University education professor and respected Jewish commentator, wrote that the toys were “anti-Jewish, if not even anti-Semitic.”
The problem, he said, was the inscription on the open pages of the Bible that the Playmobil Luther toys hold. On the left is written in German: “Books of the Old Testament. END.” The right page says: “The New Testament, translated by Doctor Martin Luther.”
The regional Protestant church in Hesse and Nassau, the area where Frankfurt is located, soon seconded Brumlik’s criticism and said the wording could be misunderstood.
After discussions among its sponsors, the Nuremberg tourist bureau announced that the word “END” would be removed from all future copies of the toy, and revised Luther toys were available in March.
3. Star Wars: Lack of Feminine Action Figures
With the holiday film releases of “Rogue One” and “The Force Awakens,” toys for some of the more prominent female leads would have been a no-brainer for the perfect holiday gifts for Star Wars fans. However, one of the most popular hashtags ended up being #WheresRey.
Toys on the Star Wars females were nowhere to be found, and Hasbro gave some fairly strange answers. The PR backlash would eventually work out in the end for all fans, who simply wanted to see Leia and Rey action figures alongside the male-dominated toys of Po and Finn.
— Jeff Forner (@J_Fo) October 25, 2017
This year, Hasbro’s attempt to solve the outcry came in a major line of toys of notable Star Wars females. Disney also took note of this and announced “Star Wars Forces of Destiny,” a set of animated shorts based on female protagonists of the series.
— KnightsofRenPodcast (@KoRPodcast) April 15, 2017
Hasbro, of course, would then follow suit by creating several toy lines on the shorts. John Frascotti, president of toymaker Hasbro Inc, said in a statement the Star Wars fan base has broadened over the last 40 years, and the Forces of Destiny toy line would “help connect with new audiences as well as appeal to existing fans.”
4. Toys ‘R’ Us Gone Bankrupt Before Holiday Season
Where would toys be in the holiday shopping season without stores like Toys ‘R’ Us? In a growing world of online holiday shopping, changes of the brand were inevitable. Toys ‘R’ Us filed for voluntary chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September, only a few months before the holiday season. Although stores will remain open, their least-successful locations might close down.
They also announced that it scrounged up $3 billion in bankruptcy financing, which it plans to use to restructure the company, alleviate its debt burden, and revamp its stores.
5. Fidget Spinners: Toys or Weapons?
One of the most talked about fads of 2017 would likely go to fidget spinners. Their simple yet fun design had made it a favorite for children and adults alike, yet the dangers of the product have spurred from a number of sources, mucking the toy’s reputation.
A consumer advocacy group released a report on the dangers behind some of the season’s hottest children’s toys, with fidget spinners topping the list. The Toy Association insists the list “needlessly frightens parents with confusion and misleading information.”
On a completely different note, a consumer protection group has also accused Target of selling fidget spinners that have far too much lead in them for children’s products, sparking an argument with the retailer over whom they are intended for. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) additionally said that two variants of the Fidget Wild Premium Spinner products surpassed the federal legal limits for lead in toys.
“The two fidget spinners cited are clearly marked on the package as ‘appropriate for customers ages 14 and older,’ and are not marketed to children,” Target told The Washington Post. “As a result, the fidget spinners identified are not regulated as toys or children’s products and are not required to meet children’s product standards.”
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