The Thomas The Tank Engine recall was announced in June of 2007.
Because so many people have held on to these wooden toy trains as “heirloom quality” toys (given how expensive they are), AND because so many people who bought the toys in the period impacted by the recall (trains sold between January 2005 through June 2007) didn’t ever learn about the recall (and don’t know they were recalled because they were painted with lead paint!), I feel it is very important to remind people about this recall periodically, even though it happened 11 years ago now.
I really can’t tell you how often (in recent years) I have seen these exact recalled trains either given away as hand-me-downs, sold in yard sales or “gifted” to schools, cafes or doctors offices (or similar), where they have a constant need for new things for children to play with on their train tables.
If you find that you have any of the trains (see the list and larger photo of the recalled trains below at the bottom of the post including information about how to determine if yours are from the period in question and not new lead free versions of the same toys) PLEASE do one of the following things with them:
- Throw them out (I have a post about that here).
- Contact the company and ask for a refund or replacement (they may still be offering that even though it is 11 years later!) The contact information for the recall is below.
- Alternately, if you want to send them to me for my collection of leaded things that would be great too (I don’t have my own set for my “museum of lead” because I threw our own leaded trains out in 2007 when I first learned about the recall!)
My personal story about the Thomas recall…
(if you don’t have the time right now to read my personal story, please scroll down to the full recall announcement from 2007 at the bottom of this post.)
I remember this recall very clearly because of how it impacted my family.
We moved to Portland in June of 2002 because of the great public transit and the fact that the move here allowed us to be car-free. The MAX trains have been a regular part of our life in Portland, both for entertainment and for transportation.
In July of 2002, the day I gave birth to A.J., I took him home on the train! His first time ever in a car was not until he was two weeks old – when my mother came to visit (and rented a car to help us run all over town shopping/stocking up on additional supplies for the new baby!)
Fast forward a few years… my children were acutely lead poisoned in August of 2005.
We confirmed their poisoning in October of 2005. This took several months because we had to insist on getting them tested over the firm and repeated objections of our Kaiser pediatrician who initially refused to test our sons for lead exposure simply because she believed we “did not fit the demographic” for lead poisoning and because “Avi was too young to be lead poisoned” (he was 7-months old at the time of his exposure and was solely nursing and not yet walking or even crawling).
In October/November 2005 we temporarily moved out of our home and made an effort to decontaminate everything we possibly could, however we ended up throwing out MOST of our children’s things because buying new lead-free toys and baby equipment (pack & play, stroller, etc.) seemed cheaper than cleaning everything that was contaminated (especially since we had no way to know for sure if the cleaning on the contaminated items was effective without testing that would be destructive and/or cost-prohibitive.)
For a full year – from April 2006 to April 2007 – one of our temporary homes during this transition period was literally RIGHT NEXT TO the tracks of an old Oregon Pacific Railroad short line in the Sellwood neighborhood on the south edge of town! The name of the housing development we stayed in is called “Trolley Barn” because the homes were built in the location of the old trolley barn that used to house the train and trolley cars when they were not running.
Our address was #1202, and the whimsical little red train – an engine with one train car in tow that magically slowly chugged by on a regular basis – also had the number 1202 painted in big white numbers on the side! My kids thought it was THEIR OWN PERSONALIZED TRAIN (and they would gather out on the 2nd floor porch off the kitchen and watch for the train to go by at the appointed time every day)!
In February of 2007 we bought our new home (after being homeless — following the order to vacate our lead-contaminated home in the middle of the night when the test results revealed the boys’ lead-poisoning, we were variously holed-up in a serious of spartan hotel rooms, and several transitional housing situations). We did work on the *new to us* home to make it lead-safe – it was built in 1905 – and moved in on April 16, 2007.
At this point trains were such a big part of our life that in the new home (where we live now, where we moved in April 2007) we set up a play room that we called “The Train Room” (we refer to this room as “The Train Room” today, 11+ years later!)
After the boys were poisoned (and because we had thrown out most of their toys from before they were poisoned) we chose to ONLY get high quality toys from known vendors and companies that we could be assured were lead free.
Because our son A.J. was a such a huge train nut at the time (including being a HUGE fan of Thomas The Tank Engine), what this ended up meaning is that for ALL of the birthdays and ALL of the holidays for ALL of the boys (from October 2005 until June of 2007) we literally told everyone who wanted to get them a gift to only buy us Thomas The Tank Engine wooden trains! We did this specifically because we wanted to make sure the boys had no more potential sources of lead in their lives. As a result of this plan, we eventually wound up with ALL the Thomas trains – nearly every model available at the time — and a really fancy train table as well!
The whole toy room in our new house was then dedicated to these trains.
And then, three months after moving in (in June of 2007), the recall happened.
THE ONLY TOYS we had chosen to get for our lead poisoned babies turned out to be painted with LEAD PAINT even though they were super expensive and known to be very high quality toys! WTF! We were so upset and freaked out! We threw them all away (we kept the unpainted tracks, washing them thoroughly, and eventually replaced the trains with similar lead-free ones from Ikea – but the kids were never really interested in playing with those in the same way as before.)
In the 11 years since the recall our “Train Room” has been filled with legos, books, arts supplies and board games. No more trains for the Rubin boys! 😉
That’s my Thomas story.
I recently found a long-abandoned box of tracks (with no trains!) that I am trying to find a new home for in case anyone wants them!
New Thomas trains have all been lead-free BTW!
Once a company gets a huge wake-up call/slap on the wrist – as they do with a lead paint recall like this – the are a lot less likely to be a repeat offender… so that’s a really good outcome of this. I believe the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act – CPSIA (of 2008) was also enacted in-part (or at least expedited) as a result of the Thomas recall – so that was another good outcome!
But still, in 2018, these recalled trains seem to keep popping up in people’s homes.
I wonder if we could check in with RC2 Corp and find out actually how many of the 1,500,000 toys were returned and destroyed as a result of the recall. I would make an educated guess that this number is less than 50% (given the duration of the period these lead painted trains were available and the fact that this was before Facebook and other social media platforms took off, so the word was not spread as far and wide as it would have been if the recall happened more recently) …which means there are still possibly as many as 750,000 of these lead painted trains out there!
As always, please let me know if you have any questions.
Thank you for reading and for sharing my posts!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 13, 2007
RC2 Corp. Recalls Various Thomas & Friends™ Wooden Railway Toys Due to Lead Poisoning Hazard
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the firm named below, today announced a voluntary recall of the following consumer product. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed. It is illegal to resell or attempt to resell a recalled consumer product.
Name of Products: Various Thomas & Friends™ Wooden Railway Toys
Units: About 1.5 million
Importer/Distributor: RC2 Corp., of Oak Brook, Ill.
Hazard: Surface paints on the recalled products contain lead. Lead is toxic if ingested by young children and can cause adverse health effects.
Description: The recall involves wooden vehicles, buildings and other train set components for young children listed in the chart below. The front of the packaging has the logo “Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway” on the upper left-hand corner. A manufacturing code may be located on the bottom of the product or inside the battery cover. Toys marked with codes containing “WJ” or “AZ” are not included in this recall.
|RECALLED PRODUCT NAME|
|Red James Engine & Red James’ # 5 Coal Tender|
|Red Lights & Sounds James Engine & Red James’ #5 Lights & Sounds Coal Tender|
|James with Team Colors Engine & James with Team Colors #5 Coal Tender|
|Red Skarloey Engine|
|Brown & Yellow Old Slow Coach|
|Red Hook & Ladder Truck & Red Water Tanker Truck|
|Red Musical Caboose|
|Red Sodor Line Caboose|
|Red Coal Car labeled “2006 Day Out With Thomas” on the Side|
|Red Baggage Car|
|Red Holiday Caboose|
|Red “Sodor Mail” Car|
|Red Fire Brigade Truck|
|Red Fire Brigade Train|
|Deluxe Sodor Fire Station|
|Red Coal Car|
|Yellow Box Car|
|Red Stop Sign|
|Yellow Railroad Crossing Sign|
|Yellow “Sodor Cargo Company” Cargo Piece|
|Ice Cream Factory|
Sold at: Toy stores and various retailers nationwide from January 2005 through June 2007 for between $10 and $70.
Manufactured in: China
Remedy: Consumers should take the recalled toys away from young children immediately and contact RC2 Corp. for a replacement toy.
Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact RC2 Corp. toll-free at (866) 725-4407 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. CT Monday through Thursday and between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. CT Friday, or visit the firm’s Web site at recalls.rc2.com
This is also the original product image posted with the recall: