Posted by: amamasblog | October 4, 2007

Thomas We Don’t Love You

Thomas the Tank Engine is pretty big in our house, as I imagine it is, in most households with toddlers and pre-schoolers.

By now, hopefully you are aware of one of the first toy recalls from China, involved Thomas train items- specifically trains and toys with red paint on them, like James, etc.  I was horrified to find that we had one of the James trains on the recall list for unacceptable levels of lead paint.  I was even more horrified to see that almost all the paint was gone- and I know where- probably down my sweet 16 month-old’s throat.

Cole chews on everything, so it wasn’t a stretch to think he was chewing on the train and the paint peeled off.  Then I remembered that my step-grandmother had given the boys that particular train, which were from her grandsons, who are 8 and 6.  So it is possible the paint could have been chipped off long before it made its way into Cole’s mouth, but it still has me nervous.

I meant to have the Dr. do a lead test on Cole at his check-up last month, but totally spaced it out!  Duh, so we’ll have to make an appointment for that, to make sure Cole doesn’t have lead poisoning. 

It blows my mind that the company who makes Thomas items, RC2 Corp. didn’t have tighter control standards on these toys.  What is worse in my mind, is have you ever bought a Thomas Train?  They aren’t cheap.  They usually run over $10 for ONE train.  If they have a coal car, or tender car, with it, it is more like $20. 

Obviously RC2 wasn’t putting this money into ensuring their products were safe, and their Chinese manufacturers were following guidelines for lead paint.  It makes me mad, because when you spend that kind of money for toys for your children, they should be safe, and parents EXPECT them to be safe.  I still have the James train sitting on my desk; I just haven’t gotten around to sending it back.  Turns out, that may have been a good thing. 

RC2 is caught in another embarrassing fiasco.  Evidently after the first recall, they sent out Thomas items as gifts to their “loyal” customers, who had returned tainted items during the first recall, thanking them for their loyalty.  About 2,000 of those gift items are now being recalled for- yes, you guessed it- unacceptable levels of lead in the paint!

How this was allowed to happen, is beyond me, and what a public relations nightmare for RC2!  You think they would check, re-check, and double-check again their products, before sending another lead tainted toy back to their “loyal” customers.  Gee- with that kind of gift, I think I’ll pass. Thanks but no thanks.  Click here to read the entire story.

My boys love Thomas, but I have zero confidence in RC2 that they have the ability to monitor and assure me that their toys are safe.  I doubt we buy any more Thomas items any time soon.  For now, sorry Thomas, we don’t love you.

All these recalls from China prove that yes, companies can save a buck in the short term, by using cheap labor, but in the end, it may cost them way more in profits, due to recalls, lost sales, and consumer confidence, then any savings they gained by manufacturing in China. 

Young children under the age of seven, are very sensitive to lead, and it can cause a number of  problems ranging from learning difficulties and lower IQ’s, to kidney problems, confusion, belly pain, headaches, seizures, and brain problems. 

In case you aren’t aware, toys manufactured in the USA don’t use lead in their paint, and toys manufactured in Europe, and especially in Germany, have some of the highest toy safety standards in the world- even more stringent than the USA.  So buy your toys from the good ol’ USA, or Europe. 

It isn’t worth risking your child’s health and development for toys and for companies who choose to put their profits above the safety of children. 



  1. Oh, that makes me so mad! I totally forgot how much Thomas stuff you guys have that is pretty old. I feel like going to kill the people who decide it’s better to outsource our jobs to other countries where we can’t control the products, the working conditions, etc. just to save a buck. I’d gladly pay an extra few bucks on each toy to be sure it didn’t have lead in it!! Cole better be okay: please keep us posted!

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