Just because a toy is for sale on a shop shelf, doesn't mean it's safe. Duds can certainly sneak through and end up in your local toy store. In this test we bought 23 toys that looked potentially unsafe and tested them against the Australian standard; by looking at our results you can get a better idea of what unsafe toys can look like.

Our toy safety buying guide gives you further tips on how to spot unsafe toys so they don't end up in your living room.

How we tested the toys

Testing toys is not all fun and games. For this test our experts ventured out of the labs and went shopping, choosing a range of toys from various outlets around Sydney including 'two dollar' shops and large department stores.

We targeted toys that looked like they could fail safety tests and that would appeal to under-threes, even if the labelling said they weren't suitable for this age group. Any toy that can be reasonably regarded as suitable for a child aged under three must comply with the mandatory toy standard.

What we found

  • 15 of the 23 tested toys failed mandatory tests.
  • 13 had small parts break off after our tester dropped them or applied pressure or tension.
  • Six had easily accessible battery compartments.

None of the four toys bought from larger retailers (Target and Kmart) failed the testing. The Coles group (including Target and Kmart) requires its suppliers to provide assurance that their products meet required safety standards, and may commission their own tests if they have other safety concerns.

Woolworths/Big W has an in-house test lab and inspects every toy it sells (although it may accept test results from other accredited labs). These procedures aren't fail-proof, but they make it unlikely that hazardous products will reach these stores' shelves.

Toys that failed our test

This Puzzle Music Train had several pieces break off or come loose when dropped or put under tension, including its battery compartment cover.
This "Kitty" wooden xylophone had pieces come loose after only one drop, and more came off after further drop tests. Not a good result for a toy designed to be hit repeatedly!
The Happy Interesting Chick produced small parts when dropped, and its wheels came off when pulled with minimal force. Interesting, but not happy.
The Lovely Baby isn't so lovely after only three drops, each of which broke the toy or dislodged small parts.
The small rubber cap detaches too easily from the projectiles supplied with the Super Police Set toy gun. Not very super.

Toys that passed our test

This truck with blocks came from a 'two dollar' store chain and shows that safe toys can still be found in this type of store.
Another toy truck, this time from a major department store - a simple, durable design.
This wooden block set with hammer, bought at a small suburban 'two dollar' store, passed our tests, though it did crack slightly when dropped.
Foam letters and numbers from a major department store; these can be a choking hazard if pieces break off, though, and the package should have an appropriate warning label (this product did).