World toy industry will seek to move on after toxic toys crisis

1st February 2008, Comments 0 comments

At the toy fair next week in Nuremberg, the industry tries to move past the scandals last year over toxic toys made in China.

Nuremberg, Germany -- At the Nuremberg Toy Fair next week, the world toy industry will be seeking to move on after the crisis last year over Chinese-made toys tainted with toxic substances, according to an industry expert on Thursday.

Werner Lenzner of Eurotoys, a consultancy that monitors the industry, said the sector had been hurt by the rising cost of raw materials and wages as well as the discovery of lead in some paints which led to worldwide toy recalls.

The current signs of a downturn in the US economy, a major toy importer, were also applying a brake to demand.

Lenzer said in Nuremberg, "2007 was definitely one of the more difficult years of recent times for the toy industry."

The February 7-12 fair in Nuremberg, a city which was a centre of European toymaking before China established itself as the world's principal toy manufacturer, will this year highlight educational toys.

The fair chief executive, Ernst Kick, said this reflected the growing interest among parents in Germany and other European nations in toys that teach children something while they play.

That was a key selling proposition with construction toys, science kits, books, CDs, wooden toys, jigsaws, board games and many juvenile computer games, he added.

"All good toys have an educational aspect about them," said Lenzner. "They encourage social skills such as teamwork or being able to cope with losing. What we are now seeing for the first time are baby educational toys that teach motor skills."

The fair, which is not open to the general public, has booked 2,676 exhibitors from 61 nations and is expected to attract 80,000 professionals including buyers, importers and media people.

Experts told reporters Thursday at a briefing that European toy sales were only rising slightly if at all, whereas emerging nation sales were surging strongly. The emerging group includes Russia, Poland, China and South America.

An arbitration panel specially constituted for the fair will deliver instant rulings on complaints by manufacturers that other exhibitors are offering copycat products.

Last year the panel adjudicated 23 such claims of piracy, Kick said, adding that the difference between the Nuremberg event and the major Hong Kong and New York toy fairs was that the German event highlighted higher-priced, branded toys.

DPA with Expatica

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