Back in June 2007, the company that manufactures the toy trains based on Thomas books and videos announced that it had been making many of those trains with lead paint. Lead paint, if ingested, tends to cause brain damage. So the company -- the RC2 Corporation, which is based in Illinois and makes the trains in China -- asked parents to mail back the affected toys.
But RC2 could hardly have done a worse job of handling the situation.
First it asked its customers to pay the shipping costs of returning the toys. Meanwhile, executives at both RC2 and HIT Entertainment, which owns the Thomas brand, hid from public view. They never explained why their safety checks had failed -- or why they deserved to be trusted now. They still haven't.
''They just really bungled this thing,'' D. J. Nordquist, a mother of three young children in Northern Virginia, told me. Ms. Nordquist had asked RC2 for a refund on her recalled trains, mostly on principle, she said, but also to cover the $39 she spent on lead tests for her children. RC2 refused. Instead, it sent her and other customers replacement trains, as well as an additional toy train as a bonus ''gift.''
Now, here is where the story gets truly incredible. In September, RC2 recalled five more toys because of lead. One was a gray boxcar called the Toad vehicle. The Toad vehicle, it turned out, was one of the trains that RC2 had mailed out as a gift. That's right. To make up for putting lead in its toys, RC2 sent children ... a free lead-contaminated toy!RC2 does seem to be as serious about toy safety as they are with handling customers after recalls.
New York Times