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2021-11-4 CTJPA

It’s that time of year again, and while ’tis the season to be jolly, ’tis the season to be fighting fakes as well.


This month, The Toy Association issued its annual reminder that no matter what you call them — counterfeits, bootlegs, knockoffs, imitations, or fakes — the fugazis are everywhere, and what was once a back alley operation has gone high tech as fakes are hiding in plain sight on digital marketplaces. This year, the problem is so widespread that The Toy Association has launched its inaugural Toy Safety Awareness Month in an effort to educate parents, grandparents, and other gift-givers to be vigilant as to what they’re buying.


Perhaps most disturbing is data from a recent survey that revealed that 65% of U.S. parents would purchase a counterfeit or knockoff toy if their first choice was unavailable while 63% say they would do the same if the toy was cheaper.


We know the global shipping crisis and associated product shortages are making it difficult for parents to find certain toys their kids have their hearts set on, but as families start checking off their holiday shopping lists, we urge them to put safety first,” says Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of The Toy Association. “Illicit online sellers are out there, duping consumers into thinking they are buying the real thing or enticing them with much lower prices or the promise of getting a ‘hot toy’ of the holiday season. In fact, their fake, non-compliant products have the potential to be dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. When shopping online, families need to carefully scrutinize listings, and purchase only from reputable sellers and known brands, whose legitimate toys comply with the more than 100 different safety standards and tests required by law.”


Last month, the experts at our sister publication, the Toy Insider issued a detailed list of tips on how to conquer the shipping crisis while shopping safely.


The Toy Association echoes many of these tips in its own checklist for toy safety this holiday season:


Shop only from reputable brands and sellers: Their toys have been tested for compliance with over 100 different safety standards and tests required by law.

Check the source: When shopping online, your best bet is to visit the toy brand’s website and either purchase directly from the site or follow links to an official retailer to purchase. Can’t find a website? That may be a red flag that you are dealing with an illicit seller.

Check product reviews and images: If a product’s reviews are negative, or if there aren’t many, it’s a clue it could be a fake. Poorly photoshopped pictures, typos, or spelling mistakes in the online description or packaging are other clues that the product could be illegitimate, and therefore unsafe.

Inspect the product and packaging when it arrives to not only make sure it meets expectations, but also check for broken or damaged parts that may break off and pose choking hazards. If you still aren’t sure, contact the original brand’s customer service. They will gladly help ensure that you have the real thing!

Can’t find a toy on your child’s wish list? Wait for a trusted retailer to restock the product. Buying fake or cheaper alternatives is just not worth the risk.

Additionally, The Toy Association reminds gift-givers that age grades are on packages for a reason.


Following the age label on toy packaging can protect a child from preventable injury,” Pasierb says. “Contrary to what some might think, age labels on toys are not mere suggestions. They are established by experts who take many factors into account to ensure children’s safety. Toys labeled 3+ might contain small parts that are a choking hazard for children under 3 or those who still mouth toys. Trust the experts. Read and follow all labels and instructions — always!”


For up-to-date tips on toy safety, visit playsafe.org.