The announcement that the Canadian Toy Testing Council will be ceasing operations in June has the founders of children’s learning toy company Click-A-Brick Jason Smith and Georg de Gorostiza shaking their heads in disbelief and calling for larger toy manufacturers to step up to the plate.
The group announced that it would be shutting its doors at the end of June after being in operation since 1952. Since that time, it has provided independent advice to parents about which toys are best for their children.
Its annual Toy Report ranked toys by age group based on several criteria. Toys were tested by volunteer families who would take toys home for six to 12 weeks to rate them on safety, durability, design, function and play value.
Donations, corporate sponsorship and volunteers kept its testing programs running for decades, but funding for the group dried up in recent years and after a fruitless search for stable financial backing, the decision was made to close up shop.
Click-A-Brick co-founder Jason Smith, himself a Canadian, says it’s a shame that a group dedicated to toy safety has had to close down.
“For me, I’m looking at this from three different perspectives: as a parent, as a Canadian and as a toy company co-owner,” Smith said. “Regardless of which role I look at it from, this is a big loss to the Canadian toy industry. As a parent and Canadian, it was nice knowing we had this group in Canada testing these products and watching out for the consumer, but also, more importantly, the children who would be playing with these toys. Now that I co-own a toy company, I’m looking at it from that perspective. We lose out on a chance to get a good rating -- and we’re sure Click-A-Brick would have received a good rating -- and getting a boost from that exposure.”
Smith said it would be good if some kind of corporate funding could be set up by the big players in the toy industry, as long as that funding was with no strings attached so as not to impinge on the independence of the group’s review process. It is in the best interest of toy companies to keep a group like this going, as they play an important consumer advocacy role in the toy market.
In the meantime, he added, Click-A-Brick continues to apply its own in-house tests to its products to ensure they are engaging, durable and safe for children.