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Recent times have been very good for Mattel. A 16 August 2007 Associated Press story points out sales of their Transformer and Spider man toys have been boosted by movies, plus they are still reaping sales from Pixar Animation Studio’s “Cars” movie.  Barbie sales are anticipated to pick up with the new MP3 player.

Earlier, we covered the booming success of Barbie’s new online world, Barbie Girls.

Now on the heels of major product recalls in several other industries surrounding products from China, Mattel has been hit hard twice. The first recall covered about 1.5 million of their Fisher Price toys with concerns about lead paint. Now about 265,000 “Sarge” cars from the “Cars” movie with lead paint concerns and 9.3 million toys with tiny magnets.  Overall 18.6  million magnetic toys and 436,000 die cast toy cars are being recalled.

A list and photos of Mattel toys being recalled with 1 August 2007 and 14 August 2007 recalls is online at Mattel Consumer Relations

Several Elmo items are on the list.

The lead paint issue has been in the news a while and nobody was releasing the name of the company involved in China. Lee Der Industrial Co. Ltd was recently identified as the Chinese company and a co-owner, Zhang Shuhong, committed suicide over this past weekend, reminiscent of the death of Robert Solomon over financial troubles with Dream Pets in 2004. Once again we are reminded,  the toy industry has intense pressures. Its not all fun and games for those employed by it.

Mattel’s Barbie is an icon in the doll industry. As we continue to try to put together a history of virtual pets, we become more aware of the contribution of dolls through out the ages. In addition they have been behind Pixel Chix, Barbie Girls, and many other virtual pet efforts.

Some writers are starting to question if Mattel will make it through this recent recall. Consumer confidence among those with young children is going to be hard to restore. The current recalls are all over the news, the morning shows, and now I see the legal arena – a company in Seattle is suing them in a class action for the lead paint issue.

The bulk of toys in many categories are made in China to keep the price low, but with the rash of recalls, there may be a new push for Made in America in virtual pets as well as other toys?

Mattel tries to make a case for their efforts in the future on their Voluntary Safety Recall Facts Page which includes an online video with Bob Eckert, Chairman & CEO talking straight to their plans as well as apologizing for the problem.

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