This is one example of a great idea for a children’s toy gone bad for its lack of safety where young children are involved. The 4-in-1 Dramatic Play Theater was a great idea. Children love to express themselves during play with puppets. But here’s a theater that can tip over on the children who are playing or simply watching the fun. A little more care in the manufacture could have made play with this particular children’s toy item a great deal safer.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Health Canada and Guidecraft Inc. of Winthrop, Minnesota, announced March 13 that it is recalling 1,800 in the U.S., and 350 in Canada, Dramatic Play 4-in-1 Puppet Theaters, model number G51062, because the toy theaters pose tipping and entrapment hazards to young children. The CPSC has received several complaints, including two reports of the theater tipping over, one report involving injury to a young child.
This toy theater looks as though it is made of wood–or something that looks like wood–from the photos in the recall notice. The structure’s composition is not stated in the recall announcement. The puppet theater weighs about 46 pounds. If a 5 lb. bag of sugar falls on your foot, you would certainly feel it. Multiply that weight by 10, add to that the height from which the item is falling and the velocity of tipping, and imagine what the puppet theater’s tipping over could do to a young child!
A few adjustments in the manufacture of this toy puppet theater–which was made in China–might have made this a much safer play item. It is difficult to comprehend how this particular item was imported and sold to over 2,000 consumers for children’s use and play before it was noted that the puppet theater was “tippy”. Since this particular toy did not come assembled, the retailer would have assembled it one or more times for display or demonstration purposes. However, it was sold mostly through catalogs and by Guidecraft’s online and other online stores nationwide–so it might have been difficult for consumers to find that the theater was unstable until it was assembled.
These play theaters were sold from July 2010 through April 2011 for about $180. Guidecraft also currently advertises another floor-based toy puppet theater on their website, called the “Center Stage Puppet Theater,” which sells for about $135, appears to be similarly constructed, weighs 26 pounds, but apparently has not been recalled due to any complaints or problems. We advise caution in purchasing any floor-based or table top puppet theater for children’s use that might be questionable in the safety category, and we urge parents to see an assembled model in person if possible before purchasing.
To help consumers and parents identify the 4-in-1 Dramatic Play Theater, it has two interchangeable panels with different themes on each side, including puppet theater, diner, doctor’s office and post office. Model number G51062 can be found in the assembly instructions and also printed on a sticker affixed to the bottom of the center crossbar. The dimensions of the assembled puppet theater are 4 feet high by 3 feet wide. To view photos of the 4-in-1 Dramatic Play Theater, consumers may go to the CPSC website at: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml12/12131.html.
This 4-in-1 Dramatic Play Theater should be removed from children’s access and parents and consumers should contact Guidecraft for a refund or to receive a replacement product. Guidecraft’s toll free number is 1(888) 824-1308 and may be reached by calling anytime from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Central Time Monday through Friday. Consumers may also visit the company’s website at www.guidecraft.com.