Back in September, shortly before a small section of Caillou-branded toys began appearing at Toys R Us stores here in the U.S., I ordered my daughter the Classic 14.5 Doll and stashed it away for Christmas. Like the old Boy Scouts motto says, "Be Prepared." I didn't want to risk not being able to find the little guy when Santa and the gang were about to make their annual trek around the Globe. Christmas morning came just three days ago, and needless to say - Caillou was an immediate hit. What wasn't a hit was the look of shock and sadness when his head fell off yesterday. Not 48 hours after receiving the doll, Caillou was headless while sitting on the couch - simply because my toddler happened to pick him up using his noggin.
Immediately I had to cover my anger that a $35 doll was now slumped over like the victim of a medieval guillotine. "Caillou is hurt," my daughter said to me. "It's ok, Daddy will make Caillou better," I said. Upon inspection, what I was shocked to discover is that Caillou's head is held on by a zip-strip... a cable tie... and a cheap one at that.
Sewn into Caillou's collar is a tiny cable tie which when tightened, wraps around a groove in the doll's plastic head. This my friends is what Famosa Toys views as "quality."
This cable tie is what was inside Caillou - charged with holding his head to his body.
The broken cable tie as it peeked out from between the seams.
Left - The pieces. Right - the old cable tie alongside the new one used for repair.
A quick trip to the automotive department of the local Walmart and the little one and I returned home with two options of cable ties to fix the problem - both of a thickness much better than the original. I easily threaded the new cable tie into Caillou's collar, and snipped off the excess with a scissors after tightening. Wary of leaving any sharp edges, I then sanded the clipped edge smooth. Caillou was fixed.
Size... tighten... zip.
My wife exclaimed "They are officially the WORST toy maker ever," after this ordeal, and as my Mom pointed out last night - other parents may not be as intuitive to fixing such a problem as I, hence they might end up with a traumatized child and $35 walking away in the trash can.
This is completely unacceptable.
The Cookie Jar Company through their CPLG (Copyright Promotions Licensing Group) have providedFamosa Toys with the license to manufacture and distribute Caillou toys, and I think it's time for it to be revoked. Aside from their mini-figures of the Caillou characters (we have Caillou, Rosie, Leo, Clementine, Sara, and Gilbert) and their "soft" bath toy, every other Caillou toy we've purchased from them has been junk manufactured from inferior designs and cheap plastic. It's time to get a quality toymaker to pick up the ball and run with it.
After browsing product reviews on several websites including Toys R Us, Amazon, Tys Toy Box, and more - it's obvious that there are some major problems being ignored. What makes matters worse is that some other parenting blogs out there are offering "Giveaways and Reviews" of Caillou products by Famosa that I feel are dishonest. Every single blog I've encountered that is running a Caillou giveaway involving a Famosa toy is also posting glowing reviews of the same products as if taken straight from a PR information sheet. This is not right.
For easy reference, here are some links to reviews (many very recent) of Caillou toys manufactured by Famosa.
- Treehouse Reviews - Amazon
- Treehouse Reviews - Toys R Us (A lot of REALLY unhappy parents!)
- Caillou Farm - Amazon (seems to be just as crappy as the Treehouse)
- Caillou Firehouse (Not good)
- Classic 14.5-inch doll (someone else had a headless Caillou)
- Caillou Backpack (We have this too. Figures are great, but once the packaging comes out, it's not a "Caillou" backpack - it's just a clear plastic backpack)
- Caillou Boat (sinking ship?)
- Learning Train (derailment?)
I'm calling for everyone involved to make this right. Caillou is a beloved character and one of the best brands in Children's entertainment - yet it's in the hands of an incompetent toymaker that evidently holds no regard for the quality, safety, or enjoyment of their toys. With Toy Fair coming up shortly, my fingers are crossed that we see some Caillou products of genuine quality in the pipeline. My family is done with the current run of Caillou toys, and with another child on the way, I sure hope something better arrives. For now, as far as I'm concerned - Famosa Toys is ripping off parents... disappointing children... and should be ashamed of themselves.
In the meantime, my little one is enjoying her third day with Caillou, now repaired and ready for playtime and rest. You can see her below as she napped with Caillou and Chica from Sprout's THE SUNNY SIDE UP SHOW (note: that's not the retail version, but a custom puppet I had specially made for her) this afternoon.
UPDATE 1/6/2012: After posting on the Official Caillou Facebook page, a rep from Cookie Jar Entertainment responded. See the image below:
I find it highly unlikely that they "haven't previously received complaints," but if anyone takes another look at those product review links that I posted above, you will see that the post-Christmas reviews of Caillou toys have not been positive. Still a very sad state of affairs.