Stress free guide to product compliance

Child appealing products

Disclaimer: This document provides guidance and is not a legally binding interpretation and shall therefore not be relied upon as legal advice.

Every product can be played with by a child, but when becomes a product a toy?

Toy Safety Directive

The European Toy Safety Directive, 2009/48/EC applies "to products designed or intended, whether or not exclusively, for use in play by children under 14 years of age (hereinafter referred to as toys)." The use of the wording "whether or not exclusively" indicates that a product does not have to be exclusively intended for playing purposes in order for it to be considered as a toy by the European authorities, but it can have other functions as well.

Play value?

The difficulty to determine if a product is considered a toy is the concept of "use in play" or "play value" in the definition of a toy. In principle almost every product has play value for a child, but this does not make every product a toy according to the directive.

To be considered as a toy, the play value has to be introduced in an intended way by the manufacturer.
However, the reasonably foreseeable use is considered to prevail over the declaration of intended use by the manufacturer. If the manufacturer labels the products as not being toys, he has to be able to support this claim. In other words, any product which clearly has play value or could function as a toy is a toy, regardless of the intentions of the manufacturer.
For example a teddy bear intended as give-a-way for adults will be considered a toy as it is foreseeable that the teddy bear will be given to a child and therefore the teddy bear needs to comply with the safety rules of the toy safety directive.

Other criteria

The following criteria could help to determine if a product should be considered a toy or not:

  • functionality: if by adding features and decorations the purpose and/or function of the product changes, in other words, play value is introduced or incited as an additional function, the product is considered a toy.
  • target audience of the advertising and packaging: any packaging and advertising designed to attract children will indicate that the product could be considered a toy;
  • price: toys are usually be sold at a lower price than pieces for adult collection or use;
  • size: toys are usually smaller-size versions of non-toy products within reach of children or not: child-appealing products which will be out-of-reach for children under normal and foreseeable use, such as mobiles suspended from the ceiling or products which are permanently fixed and out of the reach of children, and are intended to stay out of reach of children at all times, like luminaries should normally not be considered as toys, but as decorative items instead.
  • sales channel: toys are usually sold in specialised toy stores or in the toy/children's product departments/shelf of stores, whether at brick and mortar stores or online stores.

In summary products which have potential play value, are child-appealing, and the intention of the manufacturer was not neutral with regards to children when introducing additional features are always considered a toys.

Products considered as a toy:

car crayons

Packaging is child-appealing and can be played with. The packaging becomes an integral part of the toy.

toy car steer

Specifically designed for kids, with play value

handbag book

 

Additional play funcAon as secondary function introduced, a handbag.

blowing bubbles pen

Blowing bubbles pen - additional play function as secondary function introduced

erasers

Erasers - child appealing and inciAng play due to the shape

joystick

Specifically designed for kids, addiAonal play function introduced - becomes more than a joystick.

Products NOT considered a toy:

transformers pens

Pens and pencils having exclusively a functional writing purpose

steering wheel

Play value, but not specifically designed for kids

keyboard

Child-appealing, but no play function or value

not_toy_joystick

 

Specifically designed for kids, no additional play function or value introduced - remains a joystick

 


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