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Columns

November 30, 2007

Santa gets questioned about toys

Dear Santa,

A lot has changed since my last letter to you.

The red kickball you brought me long since deflated; the world faster-paced and less certain; the kids more self-absorbed, the parents more jaded.

Now, I have two children of my own, and, in case their names are on your Nice List this year, I'd like to get a few things straight.

First of all, I want to know what kind of safety standards you've got at your toy workshop. I'm sure you've heard about the thousands of toys recalled recently because of lead paint, small parts that fall off and even glue that turns into a toxic chemical when ingested.

I trust you're on top of this. After all, you're Santa Claus. You've got a state-of-the-art production facility, an army of jolly elves and enough magic to make reindeer fly, so supplying the children of the world with toys that won't fall apart or cause seizures, even when swallowed, should be easy.

Still, with so many toy recalls in the news these days, I thought I'd better double-check.

I've been noticing, too, that not all of the toys you bring say "Made at the North Pole," and that makes me wonder: What percentage of your toys is actually handcrafted by those hard-working elves, and how much of your labor do you outsource to subcontractors?

This raises another issue: How do you handle quality control? I've heard that, in response to concerns about toy recalls, some toymakers are implementing more-rigorous testing and quality-control procedures. Since you're the oldest and most trusted toymaker in the business, I'm counting on you to have the gold standard for safety, which means you've probably had to hire more elves to oversee the added testing.

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