RC2 Corp. to Pay $1.25 Million Civil Penalty: Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway Toys Recalled Due to Violation of Lead Paint Ban

December 29, 2009
Release Number: 10094

As part of its commitment to protecting the safety of children, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that RC2 Corp., of Oak Brook, Ill. has agreed to pay a $1.25 million civil penalty for allegedly violating the federal lead paint ban.

The penalty settlement, which has been provisionally accepted (PDF) by the Commission, resolves CPSC staff allegations that RC2 Corp. and one of its wholly-owned subsidiaries Learning Curve Brands Inc., knowingly (as defined by the Consumer Product Safety Act) imported and sold various Thomas & Friends™ Wooden Railway toys with paints or other surface coatings that contained lead levels above legal limits. In 1978, a federal ban was put in place which prohibited toys and other children’s articles from having more than 0.06 percent lead (by weight) in paints or surface coatings. As a result of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, the regulatory limit was reduced to 0.009 percent on August 14, 2009.

CPSC staff alleged that RC2 failed to take adequate action to ensure that the toys would comply with the lead paint ban. This failure created a risk of lead poisoning and adverse health effects to children.

As part of its commitment to protecting the safety of children, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that RC2 Corp., of Oak Brook, Ill. has agreed to pay a $1.25 million civil penalty for allegedly violating the federal lead paint ban.

In May 2007, RC2 reported that more than two dozen styles of vehicles, buildings and other train set components from the Thomas & Friends™ Wooden Railway product line were determined to have paints with lead levels that exceeded the then-applicable regulatory limit of 0.06 percent. Later, in August and September 2007, RC2 further reported that five additional toys from this product line were determined to have exceeded this limit.

This civil penalty settles the following allegations:

  • RC2 imported up to 1.5 million units of non-compliant Thomas & Friends™ Wooden Railway toys between January 2005 and June 2007, and distributed them to its retail customers for sale to U.S. consumers. These toys were recalled in June 2007.

  • RC2 imported up to 200,000 units of five additional non-compliant toys from this product line between March 2003 and April 2007, and distributed them to its retail customers for sale to U.S. consumers. In September 2007, the original June 2007 recall was expanded to include these additional units.

“The highly publicized recall of Thomas & Friends™ Wooden Railway toys was a catalyst for Congressional action aimed at strengthening CPSC and making the lead-in-paint limits under federal law even stricter,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum.

This settlement also resolves other potential matters. In agreeing to the settlement, RC2 denies that it knowingly violated federal law, as alleged by CPSC staff.

Statement of Commissioner Anne Northup on this penalty settlement (pdf)