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EU: European Commission publishes new classification guidance for toys under and over 3 years of age

FEBRUARY 2023 - TOYS AND CHILDREN'S PRODUCTS

The EU Commission and the Expert Group on Toy Safety draw up guidance documents to assist toy companies and enforcement authorities in the interpretation and application of the Toys Safety Directive. The aim is to have a more consistent interpretation of requirements across the EU.  
 
The Commission has recently published an extensive update1 to Guidance document No. 112 for “toys intended for children under 36 months of age or of 36 months and over”, and now includes a wider range of toy categories. In addition to puzzles, dolls, soft and stuffed toys, there are twelve more categories. 
 
The CEN report CR 14379 "Classification of toys – Guidelines", which was the main background document for the 2009 version of the Guidance document, has been withdrawn in 2016. 

CEN ISO/TR 8124-8:20162 “Safety of toys – Part 8: Age determination guidelines” is considered in this updated version. 
 
The product categories and criteria given in the new Guidance document No. 11 are summarised in the table below.

S.N. Product category Important criteria in determining the suitability for a particular age category (non-exclusive) Examples of toys
 1

Puzzles 

  • Number of pieces
  • Size of the pieces 
  • Theme/details of the drawing 
  • Interlocking or loose pieces 

Hopscotch game puzzles, puzzles in the shape of a clock, mosaic puzzles, puzzle cubes, 3D animal puzzles. 

 2

Dolls

  • Design
  • Level of realism
  • Interaction involvement
  • The accompanying accessories provided 

Baby and fashion dolls, backpack with a non-removable doll.

 3 Soft and stuffed or partially stuffed toys
  • Design
  • Weight 
  • Level of realism 
  • Interaction involvement 
  • The motor skills required
  • Any additional features and functions

Squishes, plush, soft toys attached to a key ring, purses, backpacks, trolleys, hair ribbons, snap bracelets, animal-shaped products (e.g., sleeping bags, hot water bottle cover, height gauges, cushions, etc.) 

 4 Fidget toys
  • Design
  • Level of realism 
  • Bright and contrasting colours
  • Size (easy to grasp or too large to handle) 
  • The motor skills required 
  • Any additional features and clear game function

Pop-it fidgets in different shapes, bubble board games, stress toy keyrings.

 5

Modelling clay/dough, slime, soap bubbles

  • Easiness to handle
  • Able to mould and knead 
  • Reusability 
  • Bright and contrasting colours 
  • The accompanying accessories provided 
  • Can be swallowed easily 

Traditional modelling clay, bouncing putty, magnetic clay, and soap bubbles that sold alone and with accessories.

 6 Movable/wheeled toys
  • Design
  • Spinnable wheels 
  • Realistic details 
  • Proportional to an adult’s vehicle
  • Easiness of grasping and pushing
  • Degree of cause and effect
  • The motor skills required
  • Any additional features and functions 

Simple toy cars, remote-controlled cars, battery-operated puppies.

 7

Play scenes, constructed models and construction toys
  • Design 
  • Realistic details 
  • Number of parts/accessories 
  • Level of assembly work 
  • Connection system

Detailed/simple designed play scenes, building blocks, construction sets.

 8 Game sets and board games
  • Design 
  • Bright and contrasting colours 
  • Number of parts/accessories 
  • The play duration, rules and/or strategies 
  • Number of players 
  • The motor skills required 

Matching games, dominos, memory games, dice and draw games, fishing games. 

 9 Toys intended to be entered
  • Design 
  • Size
  • Level of details 
  • Realistic activities  
  • The accompanying accessories provided 
  • Place of use

Tipi, pop-up tents, playhouses, crawling tubes/tunnels.

 10 Toys intended to bear the mass of a child
  • Whether child can stabilise the toy by using feet 
  • Whether the toy can be stabilised by itself  
  • Number of wheels/legs for balancing 
  • Any extra features or designs such as pedals 
  • Any extra skill required to have a high level of balance 

Balance bikes, riding horses, ride-on toys, bouncy balls. 

 11 Toy sports equipment and balls
  • Design 
  • Weight 
  • Easiness to handle 
  • Able to grasp/grip/squeeze 
  • Imitation of sports  
  • Any games with play rules 
  • The motor skills required 
Throwing rings game, bowling cone sets, plastic/foam balls, inflatable balls.
 12 Hobby horse/stick horse
  • Design 
  • Level of realism 
  • Child-appealing colours 
  • Strength to handle 
  • Size and weight 

Different models of hobby horses with bridles/straps and wheels. 

 13 Push-pull toys and pull along toys
  • The design complexity 
  • Realistic details 
  • Imitation devices used by adults 
  • Strength to handle 
  • Whether to provide stability while learning to walk 
  • Any additional features and functions 

Lawnmowers, dolls and toys; carriages, toy buggies/strollers, wagons, boats with wheels

 14

Audio/visual equipment

  • The complexity of rhythm or melody or stories 
  • Number of buttons to operate 
  • The motor skills required 
  • Whether to play with brand toy figures or licensed toys 

Musical teddy bear, plushie night lights, water toys, storytelling and interactive audio players. 

 15 Toy figures and other toys
  • Design 
  • Realistic details 
  • Level of articulation required
  • Any sophisticated accessories, shooting projectiles 
  • The motor skills required 

Detailed and simple figures, lids for drinking cups, squishes, kitchen sets, magnetic garden, stacking toys, developmental play cubes. 

 

[1] Guidance document No. 11, dated 1 February 2023 

[2] CEN ISO/TR 8124-8:2016 


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