portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article commentary oregon & cascadia

economic justice

Screw Cheap Imported Toys - Bring Back The Sock Monkeys!

We have become a nation that doesn't make the items it purchases and consumes any longer. Among other manufacturers, our famous toy plants have been closing or downsizing to the point that 4 out of every 5 toys presently sold in this country are manufactured in China. The time is ripe to bring back an American favorite.
Even if many of these toys weren't proving to be health hazards due to lead paint, small edible pieces, etc. their manufacture and sale doesn't contribute to our economy in the same way that toys produced in the US used to. Sure, huge toy manufacturing companies like Mattel still rake in the dough, but it doesn't go to pay US workers.

Recent news stories report that a full 55% of Mattel's toys are imported from Chinese factories for which there appears to be very poor quality control. This, combined with lax or non-existent US regulation of imported goods has meant recall after recall. I'm only singling out China because they are getting all of the bad press at the moment. Imports from Mexico and other countries where working conditions and pay are very poor should provoke the same concern on the part of any US citizen who cares about their family members, the US economy and human rights.

For some time I have made a conscious decision to purchase only US-made products or to buy the basic materials and make my own items when I can. When it comes to toys, the time is ripe for the return of the Sock Monkey!

Four months until the holidays . . . plenty of time to create your own customized Sock Monkeys, Bears, Elephants, Dinosaurs, Dogs, Cats, etc. You'd be amazed at the number of patterns for creatures that can be made out of Original Red Heel Socks (made by Fox River in the USA for about 100 years). Google "Sock Monkeys" or "How to Make Sock Monkeys" and see them jump out of the woodwork!

What's more, there are numerous books available at your library - either on the shelves or through interlibrary loan - filled with patterns and instructions for Sock Monkeys and other handmade toys. I'm sure there's even someone out there who has made a Sock Elmo; it wouldn't be difficult.

What do sock toys have going for them? First, every one of them is individual and different. They can have various expressions, embroidered eyes (for very small children) or button eyes, wear dresses or pants, sport hats or yarn hair. They can be made with clothes that button or shoes that lace, helping young fingers master these tasks as they learn to dress themselves. This toy can even have its name or the name of the child embroidered on its clothes or the bottom of its foot. If they were made by a family member, they are a tangible expression of love.

Many of us have memories of a dear stuffed animal or blanket from childhood. How many fondly recall a cheap painted plastic toy that is lucky to last more than a few months?

One small and inexpensive book:  http://www.cspoutdoors.com/socktoybook.html

Good places online to get instructions for sock animal making are:
 http://www.supersockmonkey.com/catalog/howtomake.html
 http://www.craftbits.com/viewProject.do?projectID=1104

How to make an Original Red Heel Sock Elephant!
 http://lennytaylor.freeyellow.com/elephant.htm

Site for Red Heel Socks:
 http://www.foxsox.com/Categories/RedHeel.aspx
(In 1920 Nelson Knitting Mills began including directions with their socks on how to make sock monkeys. Nelson Knitting Mills was purchased by Fox River. Red Heel Socks still come with instructions!)

Haven't got enough of Red Heel Sock animals? Want to enter the world of Sock Monkey enthusiasts?
Red Heel Sock Monkey Message Board:
 http://novogate.com/board/5148/index.php

Mattel Percentage Even Higher 14.Aug.2007 18:44

North Portlander

Updated reports put the percentage of Mattel toys made in China at 69% or more.

Recalls will get new toys off of shelves before they are purchased but will have little impact on the secondary market (Goodwill, Salvation Army, eBay).