There are ups and downs when it comes to testing small toys, depending on how you look at it. A small toy can differ in testing from a larger toy in several ways depending just on how small it is.
For starters, When looking at the en71-1 (physical tests) obviously if the toy is so small it can fit entirely inside the small parts cylinder, it can be a fail, especially if it is a soft toy …toys made of plastic for example with a different, more mature, type of play may be able to use a warning here, but an entirely soft toy needs to be bigger than the small parts cylinder because it is a given that a soft toy may be given to a child from birth. A small toy can also contain fewer stitches holding it together, so parts may come off, and may become a choke hazard.
However both of those things can be rectified by some small adjustments, and quite often the real problem can occur when it comes to actually performing the tests.
I know for me personally the biggest problem I have is attaching the clamps correctly. The EN71 states that when clamping the most onerous seam, the clamps should be situated 30mm each side of the onerous seam, to give even pressure, but with a small toy, it’s just not possible to do that. In this case its recommended in the standards that you use another part of the toy, for example a limb. If this still is not possible (and it’s not for my dolls!) we suggest you do the best you can with what you have, attach the clamps to test the seam in any way you can with the distance equally apart to test the seam.
You may also scale up your toy if you feel the stitch vs size comparison will equal that of the smaller toy IE on the most onerous seam (the closing seam) the stitches per centimetre are the same. Be aware increasing size may also have other effects on your testing outcome, and if it came to it, you’d need to prove you’d done everything to cover every aspect of testing your toy.
When it comes to flammability, the regulations apply to ‘soft filled toys over 150mm (15cms) which can be hugged by a child’ This ‘can be hugged by a child’ pretty much covers any soft cuddly toy, or play mat etc over the 15cms height. However if your toy is not above 15cms it falls into an odd area which isn’t covered particularly well in the standards or the guidance documents.
As we stand for toy safety however small a toy is, and also aim to encourage maximum protection for a small maker who’s liability is at stake, we believe it is wise to do the most you can to cover yourself. So performing a simple flash test is one idea, and calculate the burn rate for each of your fabrics. This can be done on a piece of fabric larger than 15cms tall, or if you were looking for a more representative view of how a toy under 15cms with stuffing burns, you could use a stuffed ‘sausage’ to test on. If you document your flash tests well, you can cross reference them for other small toys in the future and avoid wasting time and fabric on burning each time you design a new toy.
Alternatively again you could scale up your toy for flammability testing bearing in mind size may alter the results of your burn tests, and again, should it be needed, as with both these methods you’d need to be able to account for it with evidence that you’d done everything possible to ensure your toy was safe.
Always remember it’s up to yourself to ensure that you conform to legislative requirements. Ultimately, we can advise, but any liability, duty or legal obligation, including due diligence is your own responsibility.
I hope this gives you some insight into making smaller toys and how to fit them into the EN71 testing. Any thoughts or questions, pop them in the facebook comments box!