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Subject: A law that hurts game companies... rss

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Chris R.
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Somebody has probably mentioned this before...

"On August 14, unless the Consumer Product Safety Commission acts to stay matters, a new set of CPSIA provisions will take effect requiring makers of children’s products to affix to their goods tracking labels intended to facilitate future recalls and other safety-related measures. As with many other aspects of this law, the tracking rules impose a burden that is perhaps bearable for many producers who operate on a large industrial scale; as noted in some detail two weeks ago, however, they are causing much hair-pulling -- if not thoughts of retirement or bankruptcy -- for many others that produce handmade, customized or small-batch items, or items not well suited in size, material, use or packaging to an individual labeling process."

http://overlawyered.com/2009/07/cpsias-tracking-labels-fiasc...

http://blogs.abcnews.com/johnstossel/2009/07/getting-the-lea...

"...books are being thrown away and that libraries are restricting access to books, all because of the genius law CPSIA. Tossing books away, restricting access to books and information, is antithetical to a society based on Freedom of Speech. It also happens to be a sin, not to make too big of a point of it." -- Rick Woldenberg, Chairman, Learning Resources, Inc.

Over 60 of their games are listed on this website:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgamepublisher/2560

This all happened after a lead outbreak in 2007 and 2008 and after a child died from swallowing a piece of lead jewerly that came with a pair of shoes. (I hope the Feds don't come after my lead figures.) This incident fueled by a bored media translated this into a fear of everything. Congress threw the book at the entire children's manufacturing industry no longer taking things like risk or safety into account, finding an opportunity to regulate many industries that had never been regulated before in such a way. Companies have lost over hundreds of millions of dollars in lost inventory. The bureaucrats have decided that clothing with glass beads and jewelry, that do not contain lead, now cannot be sold to children even though such items have not caused injury. (I guess the ambulance chasers will next be coming after bicycles, skateboards, slingshots, pocketknives, and household pets as I suppose such items could be deemed undesirable to our new health care quota managers overlords.) Tomorrow's children will have to find new fun after their game manufacturers go out of business as some honest companies are expected to increase their typical recall expenses by a factor of 50,000! Most small cottage industries will most likely have to shut down their children's manufacturing.

Companies were just notified how to implement this law on July 22, 2009, while the deadline is August 14, 2009 -- for a manufacturing industry that needs time to make changes -- in a country that might need to employ a few people -- where politicians are too afraid to reopen a law that has the word safety in the title.


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Gabe Alvaro
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Huh? I don't get it. Maybe a link to the text of the law would help me understand.

This is certainly an example of bone-headed, ham-fisted political nonsense by congress. It seems bad for some products, but rather less so for hobby board games, considering their market (niche, mainly adults). From what I read, could not game publishers just label all of their products "Warning, contains lead"? How bad can adding some tracking numbers to a board game be?
 
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hiwatt wrote:
These laws were lobbied for by big business, like nearly every new law, in order for them to drive their small competitors out of business and take their market share.

So many large businesses have reached their maximum natural growth potential, and to find new growth they lobby the government to destroy their competitors, while conveniently finding populist messages to pass these bills.



Unfortunate but too true. You can also see this happening with the current cap and trade and health care bills currently being debated.
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Tim Gilberg
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blindspot wrote:
Huh? I don't get it. Maybe a link to the text of the law would help me understand.

This is certainly an example of bone-headed, ham-fisted political nonsense by congress. It seems bad for some products, but rather less so for hobby board games, considering their market (niche, mainly adults).


Really? No. Board games are for children. Duh. Everybody knows that.

Note that the law doesn't allow a company to just say it's product is for ages 12 and up (and thus not covered by the law.) If the product can be considered to be for children, it's covered.
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Rob Bradley
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regarding the lot tracking....

Lot tracking will actually SAVE manufacturers money. If an item needs to be recalled due to a faulty component, the manufacturer today would be required to recall every item that is affected by the faulty component. If the manufacturer lot tracks, it has reduced the impact of a recall because now, it would only be required to recall the affected lot, or lots.

Let us say a company makes 100,000 widgets in which 10,000 of those have a bolt that contains lead due to an error somehow. If the manufacturer doesn't lot track it would be required to recall all 100,000 widgets. If the manufacturer lot tracks, it would be required to recall only the 10,000 if those 10,000 had a unique lot identifier. So lot tracking in that instance just saved that manufacturer a pile of dough.

You see, by uniquely identifying a lot, it allows you to tell the bad lot from the rest of the good lots.

Creating a unique identifier for each "lot" of product is EASY to do. I am a Quality Control Manager at a food plant and we lot track everything.

For a small manufacturer, you just need to affix a small sticker with a number on it to each unit. The number needs to be unique for that lot of product. Simply track those lots in something as simple as a spreadsheet. When shipping product write the lot number on the bill or pack slip. Walla, you now comply to the lot tracking requirements. It takes a total of a couple hours to implement to generate stickers and create the spreadsheet and a 1/2 cent per item for the sticker.

I applaud the efforts and hope other industries follow suit.
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Will
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Spacehulk wrote:
regarding the lot tracking....

Lot tracking will actually SAVE manufacturers money. If an item needs to be recalled due to a faulty component, the manufacturer today would be required to recall every item that is affected by the faulty component. If the manufacturer lot tracks, it has reduced the impact of a recall because now, it would only be required to recall the affected lot, or lots.

Let us say a company makes 100,000 widgets in which 10,000 of those have a bolt that contains lead due to an error somehow. If the manufacturer doesn't lot track it would be required to recall all 100,000 widgets. If the manufacturer lot tracks, it would be required to recall only the 10,000 if those 10,000 had a unique lot identifier. So lot tracking in that instance just saved that manufacturer a pile of dough.

You see, by uniquely identifying a lot, it allows you to tell the bad lot from the rest of the good lots.

I'm not sure how that applies to the board gaming industry though. From my understanding, with many board games, there are only a small number of printings. I.e. the company will order 10,000 copies from the printers, it will get delivered, they might sell that many in a year, then order another 5,000. Thats 2 lots in a year. Not really too hard to tell which printing had a misprinted card or whatever.

For instance, look at Battlestar Galactica board game. It had an incorrect admiral card in the 1st edition. At a guess, there's probably 50,000 or more copies out there with the same misprint. The company did not recall the game over that error, and its rare to see a board game recall. More generally, the company just ships off replacement pieces to anyone who asks.

Now contrast that process with a more normal manufacturing process that you are talking about where they might churn out that 100,000 widgets in a month, 3,000 or so every day. Its much more important with much higher potential cost savings to have lot or batch identification numbers in that case.

As an aside, in the food industry, tracking becomes even more important since food is directly consumed by people, and its not rare that a recall needs to be made for health reasons.
 
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Will
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Spacehulk wrote:
Creating a unique identifier for each "lot" of product is EASY to do. I am a Quality Control Manager at a food plant and we lot track everything.

For a small manufacturer, you just need to affix a small sticker with a number on it to each unit. The number needs to be unique for that lot of product. Simply track those lots in something as simple as a spreadsheet. When shipping product write the lot number on the bill or pack slip. Walla, you now comply to the lot tracking requirements. It takes a total of a couple hours to implement to generate stickers and create the spreadsheet and a 1/2 cent per item for the sticker.


I think it will be a little more involved than that. A little research and I found this page that lists the requirements:
http://www.fashion-incubator.com/archive/what-is-a-batch/
Quote:
The manufacturer as we define it (legally, in other words, you)
Location of manufacture
Date of production
Cohort information (a contractor -none if applicable)
Batch or lot number (a number you assign)


While it might be 1/2 cent per sticker with just a single number on it, I think the additional information required is going to push that up.

Edit:
I'm not really sure that a sticker can be at all used anyway. The official .gov site has this to say:
http://www.cpsc.gov/about/cpsia/faq/103faq.html
Quote:
The law requires that markings with the specified information be permanent. Hangtags and adhesive labels are not permanent.


Also, apparently the information has to be on BOTH the product itself AND the packaging!
Quote:
The label must be on the product (only once) and on the packaging.

So its quite possible that it might be nessasary to print it on the back of the gameboard or something. If the game companies are lucky, they might be able to put it in the rules, but in either case it requires reprinting and not just a sticker.

Spacehulk wrote:
I applaud the efforts and hope other industries follow suit.

But its not just industries. Its small mom & pop places, and Libraries !?!

For instance if you make childrens clothes out of your home on a sewing machine and sell them:
http://www.fashion-incubator.com/archive/what-is-a-batch/
Quote:
If you make individual items of products you buy at retail, perhaps using the exact same fabric in each but you vary the trims or closures, then each product is a separate batch.

And I'm betting "retail" includes things sold online. Like http://www.etsy.com/
I've purchased something from them before, a handmade stuffed animal thing, that could hurt them if anything that could be used by a child now needs to be labeled with tracking information. And keep in mind that they need to be able to track all the components. How many people who sew something are able to track down the origins of the exact spool of thread years later that was used in creating it?

Libraries likely will have to take books off the shelves:
http://overlawyered.com/2009/06/cpsia-chronicles-june-18/
Quote:
the menace to pre-1985 children’s books has not gone away, not in the least. Librarians and publishers remain on the edge of their seats awaiting exemptions, clarifications or both. There was some good coverage last month in the Sioux Falls Business Journal (store owner Jenny Cook “had to throw out only 30 books at her store to comply” because most were newer; “Siouxland Libraries has pulled a list of books that were published before 1985″)



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Cindy Nowak
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Drew1365 wrote:
Local thrift store just dumped at least half of its stock of children's toys and games because of this law. Sad to think that a bunch of perfectly good toys were thrown in the trash instead of going to children who would enjoy them.

The Congress is run by Burgermeister Meisterburger.


The local thrift stores here have more toys and games than ever - and they each have a sign posted which states that they are exempt from testing, etc, etc and that they will continue to sell them.
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Will
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blindspot wrote:
Huh? I don't get it. Maybe a link to the text of the law would help me understand.

http://www.cpsc.gov/about/cpsia/summaries/103brief.html
http://www.cpsc.gov/about/cpsia/faq/103faq.html

The actual text is here:
http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=11...
(sorry about the link, its not showing up properly even if I use URL tags or code tags. Try the following link and click PDF on left)
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h110-4040

If you are looking at the 60+ page PDF the section in question is section 103, its on page 13.
Keep in mind that the CPSC gov site I linked above is in charge of interpreting that.

BTW, page 59 also includes some important definitions:

Quote:

‘‘(16) CHILDREN’S PRODUCT.—The term ‘children’s product’
means a consumer product designed or intended primarily for
children 12 years of age or younger. In determining whether
a consumer product is primarily intended for a child 12 years
of age or younger, the following factors shall be considered:
...
‘‘(B) Whether the product is represented in its packaging,
display, promotion, or advertising as appropriate
for use by children 12 years of age or younger.
‘‘(C) Whether the product is commonly recognized by
consumers as being intended for use by a child 12 years
of age or younger.
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Cindy Nowak
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As far as thrift stores dumping toys and games, I originally posted this information on February 18, 2009

All of the thrift stores in my area have nearly identical signs posted.

"Goodwill is committed to the safety of our customers and uses government recall notices to identify unsafe consumer products. Goodwill is not required to independently test for phthalates, lead or other contaminants in consumer products."
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scoutmom wrote:
As far as thrift stores dumping toys and games, I originally posted this information on February 18, 2009

All of the thrift stores in my area have nearly identical signs posted.

"Goodwill is committed to the safety of our customers and uses government recall notices to identify unsafe consumer products. Goodwill is not required to independently test for phthalates, lead or other contaminants in consumer products."


There are not required to test, but are still liable for any damages if they are selling toys, clothes etc. that have the impermissible lead content.
 
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David Rauscher
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Drew1365 wrote:
Local thrift store just dumped at least half of its stock of children's toys and games because of this law. Sad to think that a bunch of perfectly good toys were thrown in the trash instead of going to children who would enjoy them.

The Congress is run by Burgermeister Meisterburger.


Yeah, and I heard about this new health care bill thingy, so I cancelled my health insurance.
 
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David Rauscher
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As Hitchhikers' says "Don't Panic!"

Everyone can keep calm. This is a lot of hype, and I think there's more fear over the new legislation then there was over the lead issue, even though the lead issue was much more of a threat to people and businesses than this legislation will be. (We can have an extended discourse on why this is so in another form, but trust me - neither big or small businesses would want to see what would happen if there were another big recall disaster.)

Reason #1 not to panic: the law applies only to products primarily intended for children 12 and under. Most games are not primarily intended for children under 12. (see, e.g., http://www.cpsc.gov/about/cpsia/faq/103faq.html#domestic).

Reason #2 not to panic: It's a labeling law. There's already a number of labeling requirements (or options) that manufacturer's comply with - trademark and copy right notices, for example.

Reason #3 not to panic: It only applies to products MANUFACTURED after August. No need to back-print boxes. And it's just complete B.S. that anyone has had to throw away inventory. It's fear mongering in opposition to having to comply (and very short-sighted fear-mongering, as well, as the costs of compliance are extremely small except for the largest of companies).

Reason #4 not to panic: It's a bit disingenuous for manufacturers to claim stress about whether or not they'll comply where there's no guiding regulation. In fact, it's a surprising complaint: normally manufacturers would not want regulations, as they have a lot more flexibility simply complying with the law itself. Due process would product anyone who reasonably tried to comply with the broad statement of the law.
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If child safety is really an an issue, Wouldn't it be a whole lot easier and more efficient to just ban anything for children made in China?
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David_Rauscher wrote:

As Hitchhikers' says "Don't Panic!"

Everyone can keep calm. This is a lot of hype, and I think there's more fear over the new legislation then there was over the lead issue, even though the lead issue was much more of a threat to people and businesses than this legislation will be. (We can have an extended discourse on why this is so in another form, but trust me - neither big or small businesses would want to see what would happen if there were another big recall disaster.)

Reason #1 not to panic: the law applies only to products primarily intended for children 12 and under. Most games are not primarily intended for children under 12. (see, e.g., http://www.cpsc.gov/about/cpsia/faq/103faq.html#domestic).

Reason #2 not to panic: It's a labeling law. There's already a number of labeling requirements (or options) that manufacturer's comply with - trademark and copy right notices, for example.

Reason #3 not to panic: It only applies to products MANUFACTURED after August. No need to back-print boxes. And it's just complete B.S. that anyone has had to throw away inventory. It's fear mongering in opposition to having to comply (and very short-sighted fear-mongering, as well, as the costs of compliance are extremely small except for the largest of companies).

Reason #4 not to panic: It's a bit disingenuous for manufacturers to claim stress about whether or not they'll comply where there's no guiding regulation. In fact, it's a surprising complaint: normally manufacturers would not want regulations, as they have a lot more flexibility simply complying with the law itself. Due process would product anyone who reasonably tried to comply with the broad statement of the law.

1) See my previous post in this thread with text from the actual law
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/3726714#3726714
Looks to me like if it says under 12 on the packaging its intended for use by children under 12. As well, if people agree or if the government agrees that its for use by children, then looks to be covered under the law.

2) Copyright and trademark are not requirements. If the company doesn't publish the trademarks though, they could lose them. Copyright notices aren't nessasarily required in USA anymore either, however because of our system its a good idea to be proactive in this area to protect your copyrights.

3) Correct, BUT that's only been JUST determined. If you look at the text of the actual law (linked in my previous post) it doesn't specify if its manufactured or sold. The CPSC agency has posted a document and the FAQ and said they interpret it to mean manufactured. I think thats only been determined in the last few weeks (the law was passed last year). So I think some people were trying to prepare in advance since there was no official information out there.

4) You would think that due process would protect someone, but thats not always the case. I personally wouldn't want to take the chance.

I'll throw in another 2 randomish cents.
Everyone kept calm about the DMCA, thats taken us in way wackier directions than even the alarmists predicted. IMHO the time to get excercised and call congress is before laws are passed, not after.


David_Rauscher wrote:
Yeah, and I heard about this new health care bill thingy, so I cancelled my health insurance.

You joke, but its likely that employers will cancel private health care insurance plans (or rather thier contributions for them) for thier employees because of the advantages to them under the proposed system.
 
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Shane Is Board
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Keep in mind, I haven't read everything, so I may be entirely incorrect on this...but it seems if the game/product is intended for people over the age of 12, there is no action required by the game company.

However, this *may* negatively impact the production and creation for kids designed specifically for children, which would be a shame.
 
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Shane Sather wrote:
Keep in mind, I haven't read everything, so I may be entirely incorrect on this...but it seems if the game/product is intended for people over the age of 12, there is no action required by the game company.

However, this *may* negatively impact the production and creation for kids designed specifically for children, which would be a shame.

Your age of empires game and my battlestar galactica game both say that they are for 10 and up. Your chicago express and our power grid say 12 and up.
I don't consider those children's games yet they seem to be covered under the law
See my quote earlier in this thread of some of the law text (I also include links there to the actual law)
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/3726714#3726714
 
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Gilby wrote:
blindspot wrote:
Huh? I don't get it. Maybe a link to the text of the law would help me understand.

This is certainly an example of bone-headed, ham-fisted political nonsense by congress. It seems bad for some products, but rather less so for hobby board games, considering their market (niche, mainly adults).


Really? No. Board games are for children. Duh. Everybody knows that.

Note that the law doesn't allow a company to just say it's product is for ages 12 and up (and thus not covered by the law.) If the product can be considered to be for children, it's covered.


Maybe game companies will start making game covers with images of naked women on them, to avoid such classification.

So I see nothing but good things coming from this change
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Well speaking for Mayday Games specifically our items are not PRIMARILY intended for children 12 and under and therefore not even included in the batch of products they are talking about. Having said that, each batch of product has a unique number printed onto it (not a sticker)to signify the production lot, which was no big deal. We of course have to have all our products tested and verified to be free from lead anyway from a 3rd party tester and keep documentation of this on hand. We also did include the following on the back of our newest production, as you will see on Space Junkyard in the next month or so:

All Mayday Games products are compliant with applicable provisions of the CPSIA regarding specific prohibitions and restrictions on lead paint, lead content, phthalates, and with the California Air Resources Board ruling on formaldehyde emissions. Additionally our products are engineered to prevent breakage by forces exerted during normal use and abuse by children under 3.

I'm sure other manufacturers will have varying degrees of pain regarding this but for us it was just a small hoop to jump through and we don't anticipate it being any great burden.

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Spacehulk wrote:
Lot tracking will actually SAVE manufacturers money. If an item needs to be recalled due to a faulty component, the manufacturer today would be required to recall every item that is affected by the faulty component. If the manufacturer lot tracks, it has reduced the impact of a recall because now, it would only be required to recall the affected lot, or lots.


Utter nonsense. If this actually saved money, companies would already be doing it.

It might make sense in your specific industry. That's wonderful for you. Why does it need to be crammed down the throats of the companies for which it adds a net cost?

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Rob Bradley
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jdludlow wrote:
Spacehulk wrote:
Lot tracking will actually SAVE manufacturers money. If an item needs to be recalled due to a faulty component, the manufacturer today would be required to recall every item that is affected by the faulty component. If the manufacturer lot tracks, it has reduced the impact of a recall because now, it would only be required to recall the affected lot, or lots.


Utter nonsense. If this actually saved money, companies would already be doing it.

It might make sense in your specific industry. That's wonderful for you. Why does it need to be crammed down the throats of the companies for which it adds a net cost?

Not nonsense. Many companies are doing it and have been doing it for decades without being forced. To a lot of complanies, it makes good business sense. This is getting a little off-topic; but I would say the majority of items you buy, if you look closely, have some sort of serial number and if you ever complain to the company about the product, one of their first questions will be asking about the serial number.

These complanies use this data to make their products better, by tracking engineering changes, evaluating raw materials and material suppliers and a dozen other things.

Products such as board games are a little different than most products in that they go through print runs (many times small print runs), so I agree the tracking makes less sense than many industries and I understand why people are upset. In addition, I agree most of that statute is crap, but the lot tracking part makes sense to me.

If you are making a product for children, please lot track your product.
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maydaygames wrote:
Well speaking for Mayday Games specifically our items are not PRIMARILY intended for children 12 and under and therefore not even included in the batch of products they are talking about.


The "primarily" thing is misleading.

Let me quote the definitions from the new law again
Quote:
‘‘(16) CHILDREN’S PRODUCT.—The term ‘children’s product’
means a consumer product designed or intended primarily for
children 12 years of age or younger. In determining whether
a consumer product is primarily intended for a child 12 years
of age or younger, the following factors shall be considered:
...
‘‘(C) Whether the product is commonly recognized by
consumers as being intended for use by a child 12 years
of age or younger.

Note that it seems to say if its recognized by consumers as intended for 12 or younger, its a "children's product"

I belive the Agricola box says age is 12 and up, so I think an argument could be made that any accessories (like the family and wood goods and the animeeples) used with agricola falls in that commonly recognized by consumer portion.

Similarly, if you look at the sleeves, I think consumers would recognize that trading cards are quite frequently used by children 12 or younger.

BTW, none of what I've said in this thread is legal advice and IANAL. People should probably consult a lawyer on this stuff.

Spacehulk wrote:
If you are making a product for children, please lot track your product.

As I've mentioned in this thread before, I think things like Battlestar galactica, age of empires, chicago express, and power grid would all fall under this, and I don't consider any of them made for children, but they are labeled as being for children 10 or 12 years old (the minimum age on the box)
Again, I'll quote part of the law definition:
Quote:
‘‘(B) Whether the product is represented in its packaging,
display, promotion, or advertising as appropriate
for use by children 12 years of age or younger.
 
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Chris R.
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I just looked at some of my old Grenadier lead figure boxes which I guess were produced from around 1980 to around 1983. It looks like the second or later "printings" simply said "Not Recommended For Children Under 10." Interestingly, I think I bought my first lead figures at the age of 8 or 9.

I guess today I'd have to hang around outside the store a beg an adult to buy my fix...
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Steven Metzger
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So...instead of writing "ages 12 and up," publishers now have to write "ages 13 and up."

Starting next month.

Big WHOoooooOOOooOOOOoooOOoop.
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Will
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That might get someone out of one category in the definition, but as I was just saying 1 or 2 replies ago:

Quote:
‘‘(C) Whether the product is commonly recognized by
consumers as being intended for use by a child 12 years
of age or younger.


It would be kinda a pointless law (not that there aren't plenty of those that get passed), if all you had to do was change the age range on the label, keep the product the same, and be excluded from it. I think thats why they added the above.
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