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Gardening sets, toy trains made in China recalled

NEW YORK - RC2 Corp., a maker of Thomas & Friends toy trains, and five other companies recalled about 670,000 Chinese-made products, almost all because of paint containing lead levels that may exceed US government standards.

The decisions follow a recall of 21 million toys by Mattel Inc., the world's largest toy maker, since August, including about 2.8 million for lead paint. Congress held hearings this month on lead in children's products, which may cause brain damage if ingested, and the safety of imports from China.

RC2 called back 269,000 Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway items. The move follows RC2 retesting 1,500 Thomas products after an initial withdrawal of 1.5 million wooden railroad toys in June. No injuries or illnesses have been reported from any of the recalled items, US officials said yesterday.

"This is definitely a distraction at a bad time of year, and sales of Thomas may suffer," said Gerrick Johnson, an analyst at BMO Capital Markets in New York.

Target Corp., the second-largest US discount chain, recalled about 350,000 children's gardening tools and chairs made in China, which produces 80 percent of the world's toys.

Jo-Ann Stores Inc. called in 16,000 toy rakes. Toby N.Y.C. told consumers to stop using 23,500 Toby & Me jewelry sets sold at TJX Cos.' Marshalls, T.J. Maxx, and A.J. Wright; CBRL Group Inc.'s Cracker Barrel; and ShopKo Stores Inc.

Additionally, 10,000 Guidecraft Inc. floor puppet theaters and 850 Children's Spinning Wheel-Metal Necklaces made by Rhode Island Novelty Inc. were recalled. RC2 also withdrew about 800 toy knights, according to statements on the US Consumer Product Safety Commission website.

RC2's recall affects 200,000 toys in the United States and 69,000 more outside the country. The company said yesterday in a regulatory filing it will incur costs of $13 million to $14 million after taxes for the returns, legal costs from lawsuits, and other recall-related items.

Ninety percent of RC2's toys are made in China, said spokeswoman Nancy Davies.

Target's Happy Giddy Gardening Tools and the Sunny Patch Children's Chairs were sold between August 2006 and August 2007. Customers can return the items for a full refund.

China, the world's biggest exporter of consumer products, has faced pressure from global regulators to strengthen safety checks after products from contaminated toothpaste to tainted pet food were recalled.

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