While we have had country-of-origin labeling on our website for over a week now, we have now also created a list of all our toys that are labeled “Made in U.S.A.” or “Made in U.S.A. of US and imported parts”. You may view both the American-made toys list and the Information on Labeling and Quality statement that explains our labeling methods on our website.
If an item does not show up on the “Made in U.S.A.” list, please refer to the product details page on our website for further information on the origin of its components.
With the recent rash of recalls by large toy companies, we’ve been receiving a number of inquiries regarding our toys, and whether or not they might contain lead-based paints. We’d like to help put your mind at ease when it comes to Step2 toys.
First of all, children and their safety are our primary concern. At Step2, we take great strides to ensure the safety and quality of our products.
The vast majority of Step2 products are manufactured in the USA through a process called rotational molding that does not use paint at all. While we do import some accessories and smaller toys from China, none are manufactured at any of the plants involved in the recent recalls. Also, all of our imported products meet ASTM (American Society of Testing & Materials) requirements and guidelines.
We go to great measures to ensure quality control of sourced items and components including:
Step2 utilizes an independent Hong Kong and China-based sourcing group to perform multiple, detailed inspections during production and after production at the factories in China. Any components that are found not to comply with our stringent quality standards are held up and not allowed to ship.
Step2 regularly submits samples of each of our products to independent 3rd-party accredited testing agencies to conduct detailed testing to ensure compliance to the applicable safety standards.
Step2 requires certifications that the coatings purchased by the factories in China for use on our components are, in fact, lead-free.
We hope these facts help alleviate any concerns you might have had about Step2 products. We value our loyal customers and want you to know we will always maintain a level of quality and service that is worthy of your confidence.
Last Friday, NPR’s Morning Edition aired an interview with Susan Gregory Thomas, author of Buy Buy Baby. Ms. Thomas doesn’t have a lot of nice things to say about the way many companies market their wares to children. She particularly takes to task the notion that electronic features and “educational toys” enhance or encourage early learning.
The interview is excellent, and we agree with what Ms. Thomas has to say. Many of her comments echo statements I’ve heard from Step2 product designers over the past fifteen years. I’ve never met Ms. Thomas, but I think she’d get along with us pretty well.
Step2 products typically focus on what we call the “open-ended” play experience. As Dotti Foltz, our vice president of marketing communications (and a former schoolteacher) says, “Our products allow the child to direct the play experience rather than having the toy direct the experience.” We believe that’s what a good toy should do.
Obesity.org reports that 30.3 percent of children aged 6-11 are overweight. ParentsTV.org states that the average child spends 4 hours every day watching TV. The CDC asserts that as children grow older, physical activity drops off rapidly, and that by High School, only 36% of youths participate in physical activities for 60 minutes or more each day.
These factors should be intimidating. Not only does the prevalence of TV and the decline in physical activity result in unhealthy children, but it also signals a shift in social behaviors: today’s youth are becoming increasingly less active in their physical and emotional engagement with the world, resulting in a generation that is in danger of growing up to be less creative and productive than the last.
These are the trends that face our children, and hopefully we will all take the necessary steps to overcome this temptation that they will face: the temptation to sit back and disconnect from the world. What does it take to achieve this success? We must convince our children to engage in real play on a regular basis. We must convince our children to unplug. (And simply using batteries doesn’t count!)
Encourage imagination – Encourage them to use their own imaginations. Younger children enjoy role-playing, doing crafts, or playing with action figures, and older children will benefit from reading, art, and music.
Provide social opportunities – Playing video games all day isn’t the answer. Instead, encourage them to go outside and play with friends. Sandboxes, clubhouses, and sporting equipment are all great tools for teaching your child how to get along with others. They’ll learn valuable skills such as how to manage conflict, how to play by rules, and how to behave in public settings.
Keep them active – Active children are healthy children. Whether they’re climbing, crawling, sliding, running or swinging, your children will be keeping their heart, lungs, and body chemistry in better shape if they’re active. There are many options for keeping your children active, including some that fit well in a basement or playroom.
Step2 believes in healthy children, and this is evident in what we manufacture. We design our products to be exciting and appealing to children, and also conducive to imaginative play and social interactions. Our playhouses, climbers, and outdoor toys are sturdy enough to support even the most energetic of children, and provide plenty of opportunities to actively imagine and interact with friends and neighbors.
We also encourage healthy imaginations with items such as our varying art desks, building blocks, and the Real Projects Workshop. Designed to be fun with one child or three, these toys stimulate creativity and independent thought.
Finally, Step2 has also defined itself with the LifeStyle line of kitchens and children’s furniture. These realistic role-playing toys are designed to draw children into an imaginatively rich environment where play time almost becomes reality. With accessory sets designed for multi-child play and durable construction for maximum use, we build these products to last for years of social growth, physical health, and emotional excitement.
Here’s to your children–healthy, active and happy!
I’ve got a great reason for posting today: we’re currently preparing our Spring/Summer catalog, so if you want a copy, you’d better request it soon. You can register for your free copy by putting your email address into the box to the right and hitting “go”. We’ll then ask you for your mailing address, and you’ll be on our list. Couldn’t be any simpler!
Why “Play it again, Sam”? I suppose because I’m also glad to announce that we’ve brought back an old favorite for one more short-term promotion. Among other things, the Deluxe Kitchen is shipping for free through February 5.
To find out which other items are included, just click on over to Step2.com and take a gander. If nothing shows up, that means that it’s later than February 5th, and the special offer has expired. (In which case you’ll just have to pay for shipping, as this offer ends 2/5/07)
At Step2, our philosophy revolves around doing things right. Part of that includes making the types of toys and home and garden products that people are looking for. You already know that if it’s made by Step2 it’s going to be high quality, but does that matter if we don’t make the toy you’re looking for?
So here’s your chance: if you could have Step2 make any one item with our traditional quality, what would it be? (no, we’re not going to start manufacturing toothbrushes, so don’t even ask) Click on the “comments” link below to leave your response.