Playing with Fire: The Tale of the Counterfeit Toys
Counterfeit toys endanger the lives and well-being of children.
In a world filled with danger and risks, parents would do anything to ensure their children’s safety and keep them from harm. Yet nearly a third of toy-purchasing parents are unaware that counterfeit toys are sold on major online websites, according to a survey conducted on 1,000 parents in the United States by Wakefield Research for The Toy Association.
Play it Safe
The toy industry is lucrative, making it an easy target for counterfeiters. In 2019, revenue generated from counterfeit toys reached US$32.3 billion in the US and US$44.6 billion in Europe. Through the years, certain counterfeiting scenarios have brought negative consequences to this number game:
- In the UK, Which? magazine reported that toy sales decreased by 2.8% in 2017, one of the main reasons being the growing concern around counterfeit toys.
- In April 2019, a factory belonging to Chinese company Lepin, located in Shenzhen, China, was raided by authorities after allegedly manufacturing fake Lego products. According to the BBC, four people were arrested while more than 630,000 finished fake Lego products worth US$30M were seized. The fakes were reportedly being sold for a fraction of the price – US$3 for a small Lepin set whereas similar Lego sets start at US$15. One website that claims to sell Lepin products listed its Star Wars Millennium Falcon kit for US$313.30 whereas an authentic Lego one goes for US$799.99).
- At the end of 2019, the owner of a US import business was accused of manufacturing for sale more than 500,000 knock-off items worth US$1.4M including plush toys, playing cards and backpacks of Pokémon, Hello Kitty, Angry Birds, Lego Ninjago, JanSport, Shopkins and Super Mario counterfeits.
Safety over Savings?
While purchasing toys from legitimate manufacturers and sellers can help curb the counterfeiters, consumers are often tempted by the promise of a good deal. But where children’s safety is concerned, most people would not knowingly put them at risk.
With the expansion of e-commerce, counterfeit toys can make their way to consumers’ doorsteps as easily as they can make their way down factory lines. Not only does this lead to economic losses for legitimate company owners, but it also leads to a loss of trust among consumers. Recognising the scale of the problem and taking steps to combat counterfeit toys is far from child’s play, but it’s a game we should all engage in.