Toying with safety: Warning for online shoppers this festive season

An ITV News investigation has found toys sold on Amazon Marketplace which industry experts have deemed illegal and potentially dangerous. 

The toys were listed by third parties but initial assessments suggest some of them could cause serious harm to children. 

Amazon has remove the toys from sale while they investigate and they have told us they are taking it very seriously

We purchased a selection of 7 toys from third-party sellers and arranged for them to be looked at by experts from the British Toy and Hobby Association and Trading Standards. 

The toys have not been independently tested in a laboratory, but, from their initial assessment, they believe only one complies with UK safety laws- and they concluded the others are all ‘illegal’.

There were particular concerns with two products - a toy guitar and a baby's rattle - which they have deemed ‘unsafe’. 

These two products have been deemed "unsafe". Credit: ITV News

Natasha Crookes from the British Toy and Hobby Association explained: "They would need to go for further examination in order to confirm these results but the initial observation is that there are potentially quite serious failures that could cause real harm to children." 

Jerry Burnie, Head of Technical Compliance for the BTHA, led the initial assessment of the toys. "There are a lot of good toys out there, and we just want people to be aware there are dangerous toys out there as well" he said.

The British Toy and Hobby Association carried out their own research this year.

They bought 100 toys from several online marketplaces and found 86 per cent failed to comply with UK toy safety laws, while 60 per cent had faults that made them unsafe. 

They warn that some third-party sellers on online marketplaces are based outside of the UK or EU, and they don’t always comply with our strict safety standards.   

How to avoid unsafe toys this Christmas

  • Remember that babies and toddlers will put toys in their mouths. Toys that aren't designed for that age group should come with a "not suitable for Under 3's" warning. Be wary of toys containing small or loose parts and no age warning.

  • Find out where the seller is based. If they're outside the UK/EU they might not have the same safety standards.

  • If the price is too good to be true, it probably is. Remember it costs manufacturers money to make toys safe.

  • Check reviews- If they all sound similar, or were all written on the same day then they could be fake.

In a statement, a spokesperson from Amazon told us: “Safety is a top priority at Amazon. We require all products offered in our store to comply with applicable laws and regulations and have developed industry-leading tools to prevent unsafe or non-compliant products from being listed in our stores.

"If customers have concerns about an item they’ve purchased, we encourage them to contact our Customer Service directly so we can investigate and take appropriate action.”

We have been unable to trace any of the third parties who sold us the toys, and can only find contact details for 3 of the manufacturers, but they have not responded to us.

Consumer experts say there are plenty of safe and good-quality toys out there, but some just aren’t fit for purpose and the concern is that those ones may still end up under our Christmas trees.  

More information and advice on shopping safely online can be found here.

Read more: