Sunday, November 13, 2011

Toxic Toys: Fisher-Price Little People

Fisher Price Little People scare me.  We used to have a ton of them and they are adorable.  However, they are made with a soft plastic (PVC?) which could contain phthalates, or other nasty chemicals.  Mattel, the parent company to Fisher Price does not have a great track record as far as safety goes.  They've had numerous recalls for lead paint and more.

I called Fisher-Price and asked them about what Little People are made of.  They were very vague and could not tell me anything other than the fact that Little People could contain PVC.  I asked several questions and could not get any more information than that.  If you look at the Healthy Toys test results, all Little People soft plastic parts test high for Chlorine, indicating PVC.  PVC is one of the worst types of plastic out there.  After rereading this article, I became convinced that Little People had to go.


Now, this was extremely hard to do.  When I was pregnant with Lucy, we bought the entire set of Little People castle and add on figures just because we thought it was so cute and wanted her to have it.  I had collected Little People from garage sales and had asked for them for Christmas.  We had Noah's ark, the barn, castle, birthday set, van, playground, and more.  Lucy and Julia spent hours playing with their Little People.  I felt bad getting rid of them, and I didn't do it right away.  It took me quite a while to come to this decision.

I started by trying to keep them away from Esther and out of her mouth.  When that didn't work, I told the girls that we had to put them in the basement because they weren't safe for Esther to play with.  I searched high and low for a replacement that I thought would be safe and just as fun for them.  We had some wooden toy dolls and animals, but the girls weren't as impressed with those.  After researching their safety, I was debating between adding some Lego Duplo sets to our collection, or getting some Playmobil 123.  We ended up buying Esther a big Duplo zoo set for her birthday last year, and right after that found a Playmobil 123 set at a garage sale.


Both Duplo and Playmobil are made of sturdy ABS plastic.  I still do not let them go in a baby's mouth, but I feel much better about my children handling and playing with these.  Both the Duplos and the Playmobil 123 have had many hours of use.  After a while, the girls agreed to let me sell the Little People on Craigslist so that they could buy more Playmobil and Duplo sets.  Esther has a big tub of Playmobil 123 that she calls "pay-mo" and gets out at least once a day.  She is getting a couple more sets for Christmas and her birthday.


Our toys are not all completely toxin free, but this was one that had bothered me for quite some time and I just had to do something about.  Especially because Little People so often find their way into a child's mouth, and because they are so toxic, and because they are meant for younger children to play with, they had to go.  We do have other toys that I am not thrilled about, and honestly, we do still have the Little People Thanksgiving and Christmas sets.  I bring those out seasonally and keep them up high on a table where Esther cannot reach them.  I would love to replace those too if I found something suitable.

With the holiday season coming up, are you keeping toy safety in mind?  I have a couple of reviews and giveaways from some great toy companies coming up, so stay tuned!

23 comments:

  1. Ughh... I'm so bummed to read this. My mother in law just told me that she bought my almost 1yr old the nativity set for Christmas. :( I'm not bold enough to ask her to take them back, she already thinks I'm a kook, lol. I guess we'll have to employ your method and keep them high up until the baby is old enough to not mouth them. I wish these toy companies would get their act together!

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  2. Sorry! It is adorable, that's one we have and keep away from the babies. I just haven't found a safer just as cute version.

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  3. Playmobil has a nativity set with the three kings as an extra add-on. It's cute. I keep debating buying it. They have it here if you can't find it over there. I think I'll probably get it for Kaleb...or maybe really for me:) It is too bad that all the toy companies don't get their act together!

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  4. Thanks so much for posting this!! I'm just finishing Christmas lists for the kids. I'll be sure to say no Little People!

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  5. I've seen that one Amity! I wish they had it in Playmobil 123, the regular looks like it has a lot of tiny pieces. I'm considering it though. :)

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  6. I was glad to read your post because sometimes I feel like a kook among everyone else who thinks I'm a conspiracy theorist or something. My parents wanted to buy my son a little people barn when he was little (like 10 years ago), and I said no. They thought I was mean because "every little kid needs a farm to play with." Well, they bought it, anyway, and kept it at their house...sigh. We love lego and playmobil, too. And I just ordered the Melissa & Doug nativity. I also just had to tell my mom over the phone this weekend as she was Christmas shopping "no Disney princess dolls" because of the PVC. I know I frustrate her. :)

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  7. I have put our Little People in the basement but there are a few toys (fire truck, pirate ship, etc.) that are still favorites with my older boys. Thanks for the reminder that I put them away for a very good reason. Thankfully my boys are old enough that I can explain how toxic they are and they will be a little more willing to part with them... I hope.

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  8. I have just been doing similar research to you and am about to rid our house of the Little People. We have quite a collection too. I have found a disturbing search about Playmobil on the website healthytoys.org it shows that they have BPA in them. I want to find out more before I get ride of the playmobile too because that was going to be my alternate too. Do you know of any other good sites that show what is in the toys?

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  9. Oh my! That's disturbing! I wonder if its just the Playmobil pieces with clear hard plastic in it.... hm. I'm not sure where else to look, I wish there were more resources.

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  10. Thank you for passing along the info that you discovered about the potential toxins in these toys.

    I must say that I am disheartened, however, at the fact that you deemed the toys as too dangerous for *your* children to play with, yet you had no qualms selling them for use by other children. Interesting to see where lines are drawn by people who are so vocal and seemingly passionate about consumer safety.

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    1. I hear ya. It was a tough decision. Having the toys sitting in a landfill wasn't a good solution either. I couldn't do anything about banning Little People toys around the world and figured people would still buy them either way.... I understand what you are saying though.

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  11. I am a child of the 1980s and have played with numerous Fisher Price toys as a child yet i've made the ripe old age of 30. My little one has quite a few Little People sets, I have no qualms about it.

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    1. The difference is when you and I were little (i am the same age), things weren't made in China and elsewhere. We have standards in the US.

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  12. I don't think it matters where the toys are made, they have to meet U.S. standards to come into the country. Where did you get your info about the pvc?

    By the way, you are all aware that there is a very good chance that the pumbing in your home is full of pvc pipe? Unless your home is very old, then the pipe may be cast iron.

    More reerch i neee.

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    1. There is a link in the blog post to an article on PVC. Good point about the pipes; we do filter our water through a very strong Berkey filter before drinking it though. Definitely do more research, these are just my thoughts on the matter! :)

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  13. The plastics that are used now are much different formulations than what was used in the 80s. There are countless recalls of toys that have made it to the US. It is up to consumers to educate themselves.
    Also, if there are PVCs in our piping, we really don't want to add to them, do we?

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  14. I was doing the research about toy safety and came across your article. It seems phthalate and lead was banned by federal government in Feb, 2009. So you probably don't have to worry about toys containing those. Although they could still be PVC plastic.

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    1. You do realize that the government does minimal testing on products that come into the US, they usually require paperwork that can easily be doctored. Hence why recalls on items containing chemicals that are "banned" happen often.

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  15. Unless you buy them used. Then you have no idea when they were purchased. There are 3 people selling them on Craig's list in my town right now just like this woman is doing. I hope you told the REAL reason for selling and not just that your children don't play with them any longer.

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  16. You don't have to throw plastic toys away. Eventually the chemicals gas out. If you want to speed up the "toxin release" all you have to do is "bake" your stuff in the trunk of your car for a few hot, summer days. Go do some research on the "outgassing" of chemicals for people with MCS (multiple chemical sensitivity).

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  17. I understand that there are several toxins in toys that are dangerous, I am wondering if you have come across any information or research that indicates the transfer rate from toy to child? Thank you

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    1. No, sorry. I don't know of any studies on that, although the Environmental Working Group is a great resource to check with. We are most cautious with baby toys that will get mouthed, or bath toys that will sit in the hot tub.

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