It is the start of the holiday shopping season, and at GoodGuide that means…time to research the health, safety, and environmental performance of the hottest toys of the year!
While most people are out trying to decide which toys would be the most fun for their kids, we have been hard at work taking toys apart and testing them for lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury, antimony, chlorine, bromine, and other chemicals of concern.
We started this project by first partnering with the HealthyToys project run by the Ecology Center in Michigan. By combining HealthyToys.org data with GoodGuide’s ratings of the environmental and social performance of the leading toy brands, we will be releasing ratings on over 700 new toys and 40 toy brands on December 4th.
We also decided to buy and test the “hot” toys of the year. These are the best selling toys from Toys R Us, Amazon, Target, and Walmart.
To test these top selling toys, we had to wait until the “hot” toy lists (like Toys R Us’s “Fabulous 15” list) were released. We then purchased 30 of the top-selling toys (and in most cases 3 of each toy) including very hard to find Zhu Zhu pets, Bakugans, Transformers, Princess and the Frog dolls, and more! We also purchased top-selling “mouthable” toys that toddlers and infants often put in their mouths (such as teethers and rings.)
We then hired a technician to work with the GoodGuide ratings team to test these toys with an X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzer.
To explain it simply, the XRF gun shoots x-rays at the toy. When hit by the x-rays, the material (whether it is plastic, wood, metal, paint, etc.) emits light (fluoresces). The wavelength of the emitted light provides a “fingerprint” of the chemicals in the material. We employed a similar methodology to our partners at HealthyStuff.org. We scanned different parts of each toy, and tested each toy three times. The XRF gun gave us readings on the presence of chemicals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, tin, antimony, chlorine, and bromine.
Without giving away too much, let me just say there were definitely some surprising results in the testing.
We will be releasing the results on Friday Dec. 4th. So sign up for the GoodGuide email alerts, follow us on Twitter or check back next Friday to receive the full story on the Hottest Toys of the year.