Mattel Recalls 18 Million Toys Worldwide By GILLIAN WONG, SINGAPORE (Aug. 15) - U.S. toy-making giant Mattel Inc. said Wednesday it was recalling some models of Polly Pocket, Batman, Barbie and other Chinese-made toys from Asian markets as part of a major worldwide exercise to remove the toys from shelves because of lead paint and tiny magnets that could be swallowed. The global recall of more than 18 million toys, announced Tuesday, came nearly two weeks after Mattel, the U.S.'s largest toy-maker, recalled 1.5 million Fisher-Price infant toys worldwide - also made in China - because of possible lead-paint hazards for children. Mattel's worldwide recall involved 436,000 die cast "Sarge" cars related to the character from the movie "Cars" because they contained lead paint. It also extended a November 2006 recall of toys containing magnets that can be swallowed by children; they included Polly Pocket dolls and Batman action figures. That recall now encompasses 18.2 million magnetic toys worldwide. In Asia, Mattel said it has started issuing press releases to the media and notices to retailers on the recall. It said the recall in Asia makes up less than two percent of the worldwide recall. "Mattel does not put a price tag on safety. While this recall will most certainly have some financial impact, the company is at the same time, focusing all their efforts on communicating with their customers and rectifying the situation," Mattel Southeast Asia Pt Ltd. said in an e-mailed response to questions. Mattel said the "Sarge" cars were manufactured by Early Light, a Hong Kong-registered company that makes its toys in China. Early Light subcontracted the painting of the "Sarge" cars to another company. The Hong Kong Trade Development Council, a semi-government body that markets Hong Kong businesses to the world, said it was concerned by the recall. "We are quite surprised as Hong Kong toy manufacturers are renowned for our quality and safety. We understand that the industry is looking into its supply chain," said Lawrence Yau, a spokesman for the council. Mattel Australia on Wednesday recalled the "Sarge" car as well as a further 30 magnetic toys that include Polly Pocket toys, a Batman figurine and a Barbie accessory. The toys have been sold at major toy retailers and supermarkets throughout Australia. The numbers involved in the latest recall is not yet known. Australia's trade regulator, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, urged retailers to do more to test imported merchandise as global manufacturing increasingly centers on China. "The crucial thing is that the problem needs to be discovered and as a result, we're recommending quite stringently to our manufacturers ... and to retailers that they step up their quality assurance," ACCC Deputy Chair Louise Sylvan told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio Wednesday. While Mattel could not immediately provide a figure for the number of toys affected in Southeast Asia, it said that four models were being recalled in Singapore - a series of Polly Pocket dolls, "Sarge" cars, a Batman toy and a Barbie accessory. Mattel added that many of the products on the recall list are no longer available on retail shelves because they are several years old. Toys "R" Us in Singapore said it has removed all affected products from its sales floor, but declined further comment. Mattel said it was recalling three toy models in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, and one model each in Vietnam and Thailand. Elsewhere in Asia, 2,000 "Sarge" cars and 30,000 other magnet toys were being recalled in Hong Kong, and one Batman product was being pulled off shelves in India, Mattel said in separate statements. Sanjay Luthra, head of Mattel's India operations, said less than 2,000 pieces of the Batman toy sold since September 2006 would be affected by this announcement. Tuesday's recalls were the latest blows to the U.S.'s toy industry, which relies on China for about 80 percent of toys sold domestically.