Why are some shapes ‘suitable for craft use only’?
In a recent chat with one of the testing labs they indicated that they would not* EN71 certify peg dolls figures that are under 6.4 cm. If you're not familiar with it, EN71 testing is to do with toy safety compliance with a view to CE marking the peg dolls and selling them as toys.
The shapes marked ‘only suitable for craft use’ are fine as craft parts, and for uses that are exempt from the Toy Safety Regulations such as making framed keepsakes or for home use where you can be certain they won’t be accessible to young children.
As I understand it, the lab can’t EN71 certify these shapes because it is against the law to apply a warning to a toy if the warning conflicts with the inherent qualities of the toy. That’s a warning like the ‘unsuitable for children under 3 years’ warning. In the case of peg dolls, their simplicity, graspability, weight and the very fact that they are people shaped, means that they remain appealing to children under 3 regardless of any warning that might come with them, so a warning can’t be used.
If you can’t use the warning, all peg dolls just have to be suitable for children under 3. Therefore, to be EN71 certified with a view to making CE marked toys, all peg dolls must pass the play figures test (which is pretty impossible**). If your peg doll would not pass the Play Figures test, then it needs to be over 6.4cm tall because peg dolls bigger than 6.4cm don’t need to be subjected to the Play Figures test in the first place.
Frustratingly, there are toy manufacturers out there who don’t seem to comply, but I don’t think it’s a defence to point to others and say, ‘Well they are doing it’. I can only present the advice I have been given and say I’d rather err on the side of compliance.
Just to make it even more confusing, you will still see the 'Not for children under 3' warning on products on the website because I am obliged to apply it to the craft components if they are not suitable for children under 3. That’s because craft components could be used for almost any purpose and they are covered by the General Product Safety Regulations, not the Toy Safety Regulations.
* The lab did say they wouldn’t generally certify the figures under 6.4cm but there could be some instances that might be considered for EN71 certification – for example it might be OK if a peg doll was part of a kit that, when complete, would mean the figure was inaccessible e.g. in a frame
** Template B, which is used for the Play Figures test, is a hole 42.7mm diameter through a 30mm thick block. So, the peg doll would need to be broader than 42.7mm before a point 29mm below the top of its head. A very odd shaped doll.