Vintage Toy Safety – Hazards of The Past

Old robot toys with a vintage filter that haven't been tested to ASTM F963 and might not be safe.

Old Toys Aren’t Guaranteed to Be Safe.

Nostalgia can erupt within any of us. We can accelerate this feeling by acting on it. This can be achieved by, for example, purchasing a toy you played with as a child.

Nostalgia in Today’s Pop Culture

This affinity for the past extends far beyond reclaiming one’s youth. On a massive scale, pop culture icons and ideas of past decades have sprouted up from the depths of obscurity and into today’s mainstream media. Behemoth franchises of the Twentieth Century are in resurgence, engaging multiple generations and causing renewed interest in both their new products and formerly mass-produced rarities of the past.

In a way, this is nothing new. Gazing at the past through rose-colored glasses has always been common, even on a collective scale. For example, back in the 1980s, a time that heavily influences some of today’s cultural interests, there were constant nods back to the 1950s. However, today, in the globalized world, things like vintage toys can be incredibly easy to acquire.

Toy Safety Standards

Today, toy safety is assured by standards and regulations, but, in the past, recommendations and requirements for toy safety were either less defined or nonexistent. The standard consumer safety specification for toy safety, ASTM F963, was first published back in 1976. For some time now, it has served as the toy safety standard in the United States. ISO 8124-1, which is heavily based on ASTM F963 and European standards, was first published in 2000. It is often used for toy safety internationally.

Since their respective initial publications, these two standards have been revised periodically to keep up with the industry they support, helping manufacturers assure safety in their toy products and ultimately limiting the hazards they pose to children.

Classic Toy Safety ASTM ISO

Do Toy Safety Standards Address Collectables?

Please note that neither of these standards cover collectibles designed for adults, as they do not fall under the broad category of toys intended for play by children under 14 years of age.

Dangerous Toys from the 60s and 70s

The initial publication of ASTM F963 in the Seventies is hardly a coincidence. The most dangerous toys ever made lean heavily towards toys produced during the 60s and 70s. Toys made during this time were notoriously dangerous, as they lacked many of the safety precautions and oversight that we depend upon today.

With new products, we don’t have this issue, as manufacturers comply with standards. In the United States, all toys sold must meet the requirements of ASTM F963 under federal legislation. With each revision of this standard, serious issues have been addressed in response to growing awareness of their impact.

The Dangers of Buying Old Toys

However, when you purchase a classic toy via resale, you aren’t receiving any sense of assurance in terms of safety. In achieving the physical manifestation of your nostalgia, you may be exposing yourself to hazards. And, that’s the problem—you don’t know whether or not these vintage toys are. Even if they were made under the toy safety standard’s guidance and are adequately labeled as complying with ASTM F963, there may still be dangers inherent with the toy’s components or usage that weren’t addressed until the release of more-recent editions of the standard.

Standards like ASTM F963 and ISO 8124-1 make today’s world a safer place by limiting dangerous risks. The relics that predate them, like classic or vintage toys, still carry those risks.

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