Rumpelfilz: Chemically Clean, Cool and Clever

Whether you are a manager, banker or truck driver – more and more adults are discovering the stuffed animal for themselves. Before moving into homes a chemical-physical-mechanical course must be passed, though. Rumpelfilz from Sigikid confronts the lab-test.

Photo: Sigikid

The Rabbit Rumpelfilz  from the Beasts-series by Sigikid. Photo: Sigikid

Although the positive psychological effects of soft toys are not scientifically confirmed, surveys prove that: cuddly toys are growing in popularity, even with adults. This is where Upper Franconia based soft toy manufacturer Sigikid comes into play. With their Beasts-series they aim directly at many adults’ cuddly-toy-hearts. The around 80 bizarre figures living in fictitious Beast Town include among others the Bull “Macho Gazpacho”, stock-exchange rat “Black Friday” and the old rabbit “Rumpelfilz”. All of them have an individual biography written on their fur by Sigikid.

Rumpelfilz rocked with the Hot Black Rabbits

The story of the soft ragged rabbit Rumpelfilz, for example, takes place in the 60’s of the last century, according to Sigikid. He allegedly was part of a legendary band called the “Hot Black Rabbits”. Back then, they made a name for themselves “through their hare-raising concerts”. It is said that, during their appearances, Easter eggs and even entire hotel-rooms were destroyed regularly. Rumpelfilz – long on the tooth by now – still having his airs and graces. To this day living on royalties for his Beasts Town world hit “Beasts Town, Beast Town”. And it gets even better: Frank Sinatra allegedly changed this exact song to “New York, New York”, Sigikid tells. Which aging hippie can not relate to this after all?
Despite all creativity and biodiversity one thing must stay in mind: the cuddly toys must comply with legal safety requirements for toys. Being aware of their responsibility, Sigikid count on their own “Sigikid Standard” in addition. “This standard defines aspirations exceeding legal requirements, which are important to us as a brand and comply with our moral concept”, Sigikid CEO Axel Gottstein explains.

Mechanically, physically and chemically tested

But what are those legal requirements? The DEKRA Laboratory in Halle (Saale) keeps an eye on the guidelines for the manufacturing and distribution of toys applying in Europe. “Toy safety is in the focus, especially in consumer journals. It is important, that children and adults alike receive a toy which is not hazardous to health. There is an according EU-guideline, the Norm E71”, head of the DEKRA Laboratory in Halle (Saale) Dr. Nadine Paul and her colleague, project manager Alexandra Kirchner explain. Along with mechanical and physical properties, chemical characteristics must also be examined.

After delivery, every fabric gets photographed as well as tailored and weighed. Photo: Thomas Küppers

After delivery, each fabric or  material is photographed, tailored and weighed. Photo: Thomas Küppers

„Aside from the assessment in terms of the European Norm, all products must have the CE-Label“ Kirchner adds. “This is a EU-conformity declaration. With it, the manufacturer declares, that their product complies with the legal requirements applying in the EU.” Without the CE-label, products may not be brought into commerce in Europe.

But if manufacturers can attach the CE-Label themselves, why would they still have their products tested by an independent laboratory? Chemical expert Paul clarifies: “Manufacturers let us test their materials in order to assure that everything is conform. For in some cases, authorities like the Trade Supervisory Board, for example, take samples from retail for examination purposes. This may be chemical, as well as mechanical examination. And if anything irregular occurs, official requirements may be made by the authorities.”

Photo: Thomas Küppers To proof, that the fabrics are colorfast, test trips get sewn together with another fabric ... Photo: Thomas Küppers ... and dipped in solutions with either an alkaline or an acidic pH value. Photo: Thomas Küppers After drying the fabric for hours, it gets visual inspected under a daylight lamp. Photo: Thomas Küppers If the fabric is colorfast can now easily be decteted by the extent it's staining another white fabric. Photo: Thomas Küppers Afterwards, the fabrics are taken in ampullae, which are filled with a liquid solution. Photo: Thomas Küppers The ampullae are getting an ultrasonic bath to find out whether there are toxic substances in the different fabrics. Photo: Thomas Küppers In order to maintain an overview, each fabric gets a number in the laboratory. Photo: Thomas Küppers

Which tests are made is determined individually by the manufacturers. Sigikid, for instance, has a variety of tests made in a laboratory in Stuttgart. Tests include, among others, the entire legal standards of the EN71 and the EU-chemical regulation REACH. In addition, Sigikid has saliva- and sweat authenticity, as well as flame retardants analyzed. Also, tests for PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) according to GS (“Tested Safety”) and for optical brightening agents are made. The label “tested by an independent laboratory” or the GS-Label, for example, ensure that the toy has been tested additionally, according to Kirchner.
There’s nothing in the way now for some quality time – whether for a manager with “Macho Gazpacho”, a banker with “Black Friday” or an aging hippie with “Rumpelfilz” in the dungaree pocket now.

Dr. Nadine Paul, DEKRA Laboratory Halle

Three questions to Dr. Nadine Paul, Head of Laboratory with the DEKRA Laboratory for Environmental and Product Analytics in Halle (Saale):

Are there other volunteer labels, helping consumers in purchasing a safe toy?

Yes, there ist he GS-Label, for example. By this, a products compliance with safety and health requirements is confirmed. The legal basis here is the Product Safety Law (ProdSG). A qualified and independent GS-branch carries out a so-called building-pattern examination. Meaning, that a test for basic safety requirements and further potential hazards is made. In addition, the GS-branch surveys the production process, examines samples and checks appliance regularly.

In Halle, you are primarily concerned with chemical checks. Are there further guidelines except the EN71?

Yes, there is also the EU-chemical regulation REACH. It regulates registration, evaluation, approval and restriction of chemical substances and furthermore demands the labelling of “especially concerning substances”. Depending on different product groups, further chemical checks according to LFBG, Code of Food and Animal Feed and ATSM, American Society for Testing and Materials can be carried out.

 What kind of toy materials do you test? And how?

How exactly tests are made depends on the respective manufacturer. They each have their own procedure. In all cases, we check the raw materials used in the production of the soft toys. Here, in addition to the legally required parameters, there are also free, market-determined parameters as well as company-determined parameters. Those often are even stricter than the required ones.

 

 

 

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