Thomas & Friends toymaker to pay $1.25 million for lead paint violations

The maker of the popular Thomas & Friends painted wooden trains agreed to pay $1.25 million to settle charges that it sold 1.7 million toys that had more lead than permitted by federal law, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said.

The agreement was actually reached in September. CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson said the commission approved the agreement yesterday.

Oak Brook, Ill.-based RC2 Toys, which owns Learning Curve Brands, did not admit any wrongdoing after being accused by CPSC staff of knowingly selling toys that violated the lead paint standards. Excessive amounts of lead if ingested by young children can be toxic and cause serious health problems including brain damage.

More than two dozen different styles of the Chinese-made toys, which sold for between $10 and $70, were distributed mostly between January 2005 and June 2007.

"The highly publicized recall of Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway toys was a catalyst for Congressional action aimed at strengthening CPSC and making the lead-in-paint limits under federal law even stricter," CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said in a written statement.

According to the settlement, one of the retailers that carried the line discovered the toys had too much lead and notified the company. That led to an internal investigation, according to the settlement, that revealed numerous toys failing inspection.

About 1.5 million of the toys were recalled in June 2007 followed by another 200,000 that September. The company broke ties with both the Chinese manufacturers that produced the toys, according to the settlement.

In a statement released with the settlement, RC2 said it has since instituted safeguards to prevent such violations from happening. "We're pleased that we've been able to resolve the issues in a manner that helps us continue to build parents' trust and assure children many hours of play with innovative, high‐quality and safe toys."
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