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Mattel Recalls More Toys in Asia Over Lead Paint, Tiny Magnets

AP

U.S. toy-making giant Mattel said Wednesday it was recalling some models of Polly Pocket, Batman, Barbie and other Chinese-made toys from Asian markets as part of a major worldwide exercise to remove the toys from shelves because of lead paint and tiny magnets that could be swallowed.

The global recall of more than 18 million toys, announced Tuesday, came nearly two weeks after Mattel, the U.S.'s largest toy-maker, recalled 1.5 million Fisher-Price infant toys worldwide -- also made in China -- because of possible lead-paint hazards for children.

Mattel's worldwide recall involved 436,000 die cast "Sarge" cars related to the character from the movie "Cars" because they contained lead paint. It also extended a November 2006 recall of toys that contain magnets that can be swallowed by children; they included Polly Pocket dolls and Batman action figures. That recall now encompasses 18.2 million magnetic toys worldwide.

In Asia, Mattel said it has started issuing press releases to the media and notices to retailers on the recall.

"Mattel does not put a price tag on safety. While this recall will most certainly have some financial impact, the company is at the same time, focusing all their efforts on communicating with their customers and rectifying the situation," Mattel Southeast Asia said in an e-mailed response to questions.

Mattel added that many of the products on the recall list are no longer available on retail shelves because they are several years old.

While Mattel could not immediately provide a figure for the number of toys affected in Southeast Asia, it said that four models were being recalled in Singapore -- Polly Pocket dolls, "Sarge" cars related to the character from the Disney movie "Cars," a Batman toy and a Barbie and Tanner accessory.

"We have been informed by Mattel ... and have removed all affected products off our sales floor," Toys "R" Us in Singapore said, declining further comment.

Mattel said it was recalling three toy models in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, and one model each in Vietnam and Thailand.

Elsewhere in Asia, 2,000 "Sarge" cars and 30,000 other magnet toys were being recalled in Hong Kong and one Batman product was being pulled off shelves in India, Mattel said in separate statements.

Sanjay Luthra, head of Mattel's India operations, said less than 2,000 pieces of the toy sold since September 2006 would be affected by this announcement.

Tuesday's recalls were the latest blows to the U.S.'s toy industry, which relies on China for about 80% of toys sold domestically.

On Aug. 2, Mattel recalled about 1.5 million Chinese-made Fisher-Price toys -- including characters such as Dora the Explorer, Big Bird and Elmo -- that contain lead paint. In June, about 1.5 million Thomas & Friends wooden railway toys, imported from China and distributed by the RC2 Corp. were recalled because of lead paint.

Lead is toxic if ingested by young children. Under current U.S. regulations, children's products found to have more than .06 percent lead accessible to users are subject to a recall.

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