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Mommy, Is My Toy Bad?

Toy recalls have been hanging over this holiday season like the Grinch over Whoville.

This makes parents doubt the likes of Mattel (MAT - Get Report), Fisher Price, Winnie the Pooh and Thomas the Tank Engine -- names that are supposed to reassure that their children are at play in safe hands.

Things that make toys bad for kids -- lead paint, toxic plastics and irresponsible manufacturing -- are bad for the environment, too.

So it made me wonder about replacing some of the many toys on the Consumer Product Protection Commission's lengthy recall list with eco-friendly counterparts that would be good for both kids and the planet.

The trouble with eco toys in general is that they become redundant quickly. They are long on rag dolls and stuffed toys (a lot of stuffed vegetables ), and on wooden blocks, cars, trains -- often unpainted -- and basic board games.

These items look well made, are creative and have a nostalgic appeal, even if you never played with such toys yourself. And unlike eco-friendly clothes, they aren't break-the-bank expensive.

But how many handmade wooden knickknacks can you put under the tree before the novelty wears off and your living room begins to look like a high-school shop class?

Thus, I hoped to at least find commercial plastic toys that are responsibly manufactured and of reliable quality. There is a middle ground between too-basic eco-toys and the cheap, commercial toys that require you to buy home lead tests and monitor the news for recall notices.

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