Thursday, August 2nd, 2007
Elmo’s Head: An Analysis of Recalled Fisher-Price Toys
The onslaught of recalled toys and food originating from China continues with yesterday’s recall of nearly 1 million Fisher-Price toys sold between April and July 2007, due to lead paint.
When looking at the sea of toys, one thought pounded in my head: I would never have bought any of these products for my daughter.
- Elmo’s head on a toy power drill
- Elmo and Cookie Monster on a shape sorter
- Elmo’s face on a 6-key musical keyboard
- Cookie Monster on a toy saxophone
What does Cookie Monster have to do with sax music? When we buy out-of-context licensed characters we are following a marketer’s agenda for our children.
What constitutes an in-context toy? A Thomas the Tank Engine train toy. Winnie the Pooh books. A Dora the Explorer butterfly net. I would not buy a branded butterfly net when a non-branded version is available, but at least it’s exploration-themed.
I wrote about this topic last year when I saw an Etch-a-Sketch cheapened by Dora the Explorer imagery. Either you believe the over-commercialization of childhood is harmful, or today you are probably shipping some of your toys back to Fisher-Price/Mattel for replacement.
For my own time-wasting edification, I was going to create a pie chart showing the small percentage of recalled toys that did not feature licensed TV characters. To my dismay, every single toy had licensed characters. Pretend I made a single-color pie and it was very funny.
In lieu of that, I wasted my time examining which characters marketers want our children to bond with.
The “multiple characters” in Sesame Street toys (represented in purple in the pie chart above) are heavily slanted toward Elmo. He is a reoccurring character in virtually every one of the toys. The first runner-up is Cookie Monster.
Thumbnails of recalled toys are below.
Please review the following web sites for official recall information: