Ganz, Gund and Grumpy Cat

One of the strangest coincidences from my many years in the Doll Business: Ganz, GUND and Grumpy Cat!

GUND's "Grumpy Cat"

GUND’s “Grumpy Cat”

I recently read the story below in the trade press about a recall. It caught my eye because, while walking Toy Fair last month, I happened to see the Grumpy Cat plush in the Ganz booth. As I had already been in the GUND booth (we carry a lot of GUND products), I knew that they also had a license to manufacture Grumpy Cat plush.

And I felt bad for GUND, because I think the Ganz recall for Grumpy Cat plush – a possible choking hazard because the eyes can come off – is going to affect consumer perceptions of GUND’s Grumpy Cat plush. (And of course I feel bad for Ganz… I’m sure they spent a small fortune to make their toys safe and meet CPSIA regs… it just goes to show that even the best designers and manufacturers can have something like this happen.)

But in the end, I think parents are going to remember ‘Grumpy Cat Plush,’ and not differentiate between Ganz and Gund. They’re both going to suffer for awhile.
Isn’t that a strange coincidence? Two famous Plush Doll companies, both have four letter names, both start with the letter ‘G,’ and both have a license to make Grumpy Cat plush!

Ganz Recalls Grumpy Cat Stuffed Animal Toys

Grumpy Cat Sitting Toy

Ganz’s Grumpy Cat

WASHINGTON – Ganz, in cooperation with the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), has recalled three styles of its plush Grumpy Cat stuffed animal toys due to a choking hazard.

(You can read the full story by clicking here)




Just what is a ‘Safe Doll?’



Everybody who buys dolls wants to make sure they’re safe. That’s a given.

But what does ‘safe’ mean?

Today’s post is about what we do to try and make the dolls we sell as safe as is possible for your children.

In the US we have the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSIA) safety standards, but since most of our dolls are also sold in Europe, they also comply with Europe’s EN71 regulations. (About 10% of our dolls come from Spain.)

After manufacturing, the dolls have to be tested in three main areas: Soft Toy Testing, Plastic Toys Testing and Electrical Toy Testing.  Many dolls have to be tested in multiple categories, like this animated lamb that tells nursery rhymes.

Nurserytime animated and talking lamb by GUND

Nurserytime animated and talking lamb by GUND

And then there’s all the things they test for. Here’s just a partial list:

  • That the materials they use are safe, including flame retardants and dyes, and contain no poisons like Lead, Chromium, Formaldehyde, Nickle, Benzene.
  • That the filling materials are clean and new.
  • Paints and Dyes: Poisonous? Will they flake, or dissolve in the mouth if a child sucks on them?
  • Physical Strength: basically, can your child, pull, twist, squeeze, bend or bite pieces off of the doll that they can then choke on or swallow?
  • Also drop tests. If this doll is dropped, will it break into sharp and dangerous pieces?
  • Are there magnets, eyeballs, ribbons, buttons or other parts to the doll that can come loose or be broken off?
  • and many, many more.

It is practically impossible for a new doll to get made and into your hands without all this safety testing. It costs the manufacturers a small fortune.

Even so, we want your kids to be safe, so we’ll warn you of four big ways you could get an unsafe doll:

  1. Buy an old doll on ebay or at an antique store or at a used goods store like Goodwill that was manufactured before the CPSIA regulations.
  2. Buy a handmade craft doll at a craft fair or off of Etsy.
  3. Leave an older child’s doll around where a toddler can get at it. For example, American Girl® dolls are recommended for ages 8 years or older because many of the smaller accessories are choking hazards for a three year old.
  4. A doll you have that was safe when you bought it, could over time become unsafe… loose parts, rough play etc.

You know, for all the talk and worries of toy safety, the one thing you actually can control you probably don’t do anyway…

All the dolls and toys in your house are supposed to be inspected regularly, to see if they’re still safe to play with, but almost no one I know of does it!

Doll Safety and The Choke Test Tube

WARNING! Choking hazard: May contain small parts, not for children under 3 years.

You’ve seen this a million times, so often in fact, that you probably don’t even notice it anymore. And that’s too bad, because it’s there to protect your child or grandchild.

Hopefully I’m going to shake up your perceptions a little bit, and bring choking hazards back to the forefront of your brain where they belong.

Picture of Choke Testing Tube

A real choke testing tube, and the home made version

On the left, a choke testing tube. The opening is about the same size as a three year old’s mouth, and that slanted piece inside of the tube is where a child’s throat would be. The CPSC (The US Consumer Product Safety Commission) requires that anything that can be dropped into these tubes and block that slanted bottom be labeled a choking hazard.

You have a bunch of these choke tubes lying around the house right?

But what you do have, and works just as well for our purposes, is the cardboard tube inside the toilet paper roll. So the next time you empty that roll, take that tube around the house as a safety measure. What do you have that (A) fits inside that tube and (B) might be attractive to the little ones?  [ Doll Collecting Grannies take note! This means you too!]

The life you save may be your child’s.

PS: The most dangerous toys are small balls and deflated or broken balloons. Doll hazards include buttons, removable socks and shoes and ribbons and strings over 12 inches. But please also make sure that your older children’s dolls are out of the reach of toddlers. Of special note, remember that 18″ dolls like the American Girls®  are often recommended for children 8 years and older, but they are often shared with their younger siblings. Finally we’ll ask you to regularly inspect all of your children’s dolls for broken or loose parts.

PPS: And please, don’t be that Mommy or Grandmommy who thinks that their kids are so advanced that you can give them a doll meant for older children. There’s a reason that we put the age recommendations on every doll we sell. Disregard them at your own risk.