I just love the standards with their wonderful vagueness on items we toy makers can come up with… you too? no, actually me neither, and here’s another ‘do I or don’t I’ post for you! Today we’re looking at Christmas decorations/novelties! Christmas decorations as a general rule, don’t come under the en71 toy standards ‘scope’, but things do once again get pretty vague when things get child appealing, so lets look in a little more detail.
This blog post is largely working to the gov.uk documents you can find: here
The europa guidance docs: here (number 4)
and the hampshire trading standard website: page on novelties
also the rospa website: safety of christmas novelties
In fact, if you put into google ‘christmas novelties safety’, you get a list of websites warning parents to check labels before giving Christmas items to children, its pretty important!
So whats the law?
on the gov.uk website page Toy manufacturers and their responsibilities under ‘List of products that are not considered as toys’ it very clearly states:
‘decorative objects for festivities and celebrations’
Which appears to be a beautiful get out clause! I can just stick a label on and say not a toy right?
Well, in many cases, perhaps yes you could. but because that would make for a very short blog post, and you’re clearly here because you’re interested in toy making lets delve a little deeper.
Firstly I’m absolutely not advocating CE marking everything and anything, because that’s against the law also, and it would cause confusion of what the CE mark really means. I am however, asking to look at your items through a toy makers eye, and question whether you are totally using your ‘not a toy’ label as it should be, or whether you really ought to be doing the CE thing.
If we scroll back to the ‘what is a toy’ europa guidance 4 document, it gives this ‘indicative’ criteria on what is or isn’t a toy, and in particular these factors may well apply to your decision
- Place of selling – do you usually sell toys? are you confusing your customers if you suddenly sell ‘christmas novelties’?
- Packaging and advertising – how are you advertising your items? with children holding them might give out the wrong message.
- Size – perhaps not as this guidance particularly intends, but a larger novelty item might be more attractive to a child, and importantly ‘huggable’
- Within reach of the children – is this likely? does it have play value?
It states the list isn’t exhaustive, so I’m sure you could probably think of other factors. When it comes to looking at your decoration or novelty, most importantly is to think about that need to cuddle, and whether your item has play value more than just being pretty to look at. Elves which reside on shelves (mind your copyright/trademarks now!) clearly have a play element to them, and although you could argue they are not meant to be touched, there is a huge huge temptation for a child to touch such an item, and a big argument for CE marking them and ensuring they are safe. Likewise with any Christmas themed soft toy, I’m not sure there is any reason for them not to be CE marked.
Christmas stockings inevitably find themselves in the hands of children, but unless there is an extra play value factor, the CE mark is usually not relevant, however safety and flammability at Christmas time is still very important (your item should still be safe according to the General Product Safety Directives) and should your stocking have anything which makes it more attractive for play then perhaps it should be reconsidered.
Soft tree decorations sold in a shop which is not normally a toy seller, may not need testing, but if you usually sell toys and they resemble your toys, you may wish to reconsider, as adding a hanging ribbon doesn’t necessarily alter the play value.
If your product does not fall under the toy scope, its still very important to label it clearly (preferably permanently attached) that it is not a toy, and any warning hazards which make it dangerous for under threes.
If you’re struggling with what is or isn’t a toy these might help:
Remember its always down to the onus of the maker to be extra sure that their toys and items are made within the law, always double check!
Happy christmas planning!