This is big news in Vancouver at this time of the Winter Olympics, as 'souvenir toys' are the 'must-have item'. According to the Canwest News Service, toy sales rose by 4 percent over the US summer holiday period after two very difficult years.
Reyne Rice, trend specialist for the US Toy Industry Association, is reported as saying that about 25 percent of retail buyers at last year's New York Toy Fair wanted to see more "eco-friendly" products.
Toys made from organic cotton, bamboo or other organic materials are safer for children and could eliminate or reduce huge testing costs associated with playthings. The industry is also becoming increasingly "green" in choosing packaging material for toys.
Well-Being Australia chairman, Mark Tronson, said that the Australian Toy Association (ATA) also has resources on toy safety. A guide has been written specifically for parents and grandparents and other carers, to reassure them that toys are safe and to guide them through the process of buying and playing with toys.
Every so often, something is found to be unsafe and there are reports in the news informing Australians and spelling out the issues.
Today, there seem to be two significant areas of concern with toys. As well a safety, it seems consumers want to be assured the toys are 'green'.
M V Tronson can think back to his own childhood and the 'toys for boys' that still bring a chuckle of distant joy, which kept him playing for hours.
Whether it was a truck, a car, a bus, a train or an aeroplane, these toys were made of 'tin' and on the toy was 'painted' every item from the windows, the people, many small details that enthral a little kid.
"We kids in the fifties, the baby boomer generation, survived such toys, toys that today would have been put under the microscope. Many probably contained so many banned substances, and today they would be marked 'toxic', 'dangerous' and 'touch at your own risk'," M V Tronson explained.
However, Mark Tronson, now a grandfather, is grateful for the improvement in testing and technology. He is very pleased that young children today will not have to suffer the cuts, stitches and infected wounds that nearly everyone in his class had to contend with at some stage during any one year.
He is thankful that those who work in laboratories have developed safer and cleaner and 'greener' methodologies so that they, too, can make attractive toys with attractive 'eco-friendly' colours that do not damage the long-term health of the young children, nor the health of those very same workers who mix and match the components of the toys day after day.
At the Vancouver Winter Olympics, visitors can buy souvenir toys of every description with the various Canadian emblems; as they could buy the Kangaroo and Koala soft toys 10 years ago at the summer Sydney Olympics.
The public can only hope and trust in the safety monitoring processes of the various governments, to ensure that all of these toys are safe for their children. Moreover, now that 'green' is in vogue, they need reassurance that the organic cotton, the bamboo and other organic materials now being used in toy manufacturing have themselves been cleaned of any microscopic hidden dangers.
"It always worries me a little when a new bandwagon is heralded, that in the end there is a sixth sense that tells you that one lot of dangers have been substituted for a different set," M V Tronson noted. "In this case, we can only hope we can trust the manufacturers and those who test the products."