|Falling behind: Vietnamese-made toys are falling out of favour with children in HCM City. — Photo mediavietq.vn
HCM CITY (VNS) — With a vast variety of illegally imported toys available at reasonable prices, Vietnamese-made toys are falling out of favour with children in HCM City.
"Indeed, though domestic companies have started producing a wide range of quality toys in recent years, their sales have been slow due to high prices compared with illegally imported products," Phan My Nghi, who runs a toy shop in An Dong Market, said.
She said a wooden toy automobile sold under the brand name Winwintoys by the Duc Thanh Wood Company costs VND150,000 while a Chinese-made vehicle with an engine and a remote control to boot costs only VND50,000.
Similarly, a domestic plastic train costs VND50,000, whereas a battery-driven toy train imported from China or Thailand costs only VND30,000 and VND38,000.
"Consequently, toy shops are now selling a wide range of imported toys, mostly illegal ones, from stuffed animals and cooking kits to toy automobiles," she said.
Domestic manufacturers like Duc Thanh Wood Company, Education Facilities No 1, and Dai Kim Plastic Company are able to match neither the price nor quality of these products.
According to Sai Gon Tiep Thi ( Saigon Marketing) newspaper, in the first five month of this year market managers across the country carried out 27 raids and confiscated more than 430,000 illegally imported toys, most of them banned products like shotguns and swords, from China.
Last month 40 students at Tien Thanh Primary School in Phan Thiet city were hospitalised after being poisoned by imported toys. Tests found the toys, sold by vendors at the school, containing substances like sodium bicarbonate and citric acid.
Illegally imported toys have become so popular that they dominate local wholesale markets like Binh Tay, Kim Bien, and Pham Van Hai.
Children are interested in these products, especially those from China, because they are generally more modern and have more moveable parts compared to locally-made toys which are stodgy.
To sell Vietnamese products, shops have to market them as "foreign-made".
Tran Thi Ngoc Thao, owner of a toy shop on Bach Dang Street, Binh Thanh District, said her shop has more than 150 kinds of Chinese toys and gets around 50 children a day.
"I often have to diversify products to satisfy their demand."
Phan Thi Anh, a teacher at Ngo Si Lien School in Tan Binh District, said toy shops that opened recently draw a large number of youngsters, but cultural authorities have yet to crack down on the unsafe products they sell.
"With toy weapons, users can ‘become' a police officer, a terrorist, a street vagabond, or a ‘hero' of the underworld, taking out and firing guns until they ‘die' in action.
"The fights look lively because these toys have many operations.
"The summer holidays have come. Children have a lot of free time to play. Local authorities should make greater efforts to eliminate violent toys."— VNS