BURBANK, Calif. – Following three high-profile recalls by Mattel Inc. (MAT) this summer involving millions of Chinese-made, lead-tainted toys, The Walt Disney Company (DIS) will begin independently testing toys featuring its characters, company officials said.
Disney planned to inform Mattel and other toy makers about the program — which will include random tests of products already on store shelves — on Monday.
"It sends the message that we are looking over their shoulders," Disney consumer products division chairman Andy Mooney told The New York Times, which first reported the company's testing plans.
The testing represents a departure from licensers' usual involvement in quality control, which is normally left to manufacturers.
Analysts said the move demonstrates companies' eagerness to insulate their brands from product safety fears as the holiday gift-giving season approaches.
"Anything that is going to restore consumer trust has got to be a good thing," said Sean McGowan, a toy industry analyst at Wedbush Morgan Securities.
The tests, set to begin within the next two weeks, will involve some of the more than 65,000 children's products from around 2,000 vendors of toys, jewelry, furniture and other Disney items, consumer products division spokesman Gary Foster said.
Disney executives signed off on the plan Thursday, days after Mattel, the world's largest toy maker, announced that it was recalling some 800,000 Chinese-made toys — its third major recall of the summer
An earlier Mattel recall this summer involved some 436,000 cars based on "Sarge," a character in the Disney movie "Cars," which were believed to contain lead paint.