toys

An original Raggedy Ann doll.
User: Muskegon Heritage Museum

If there's been a little girl in your life at any point, chances are pretty good that Raggedy Ann made her way into your home.

The cloth doll with the yarn hair and the candy-cane-striped stockings has been a part of America's toy scene for a century.

Raggedy Ann has some very strong roots in West Michigan.

Anne Dake is a curator at the Muskegon Heritage Museum. She says almost 90,000 Raggedy Ann dolls were handmade in Muskegon from 1918 to 1926.

According to Dake, the story of Raggedy Ann began when cartoonist Johnny Gruelle's daughter found a red doll at her grandmother's house. They painted her a new face, and Gruelle's daughter named it "Raggedy Ann."

"Her iconic smile, her joy ... Every time you see one, you can't help but smile and be happy," says Dake.

* Listen to our conversation with Anne Dake.

Safety is gradually improving, but toy-shoppers should still be watchful this holiday season.

That’s the main message from this year’s annual ‘Trouble in Toyland’ toy safety report from the Public Interest Research Group in Michigan (PIRGIM).

The group says the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, passed in 2008, has improved toy safety.

But it warns that some toys can and do fall through the regulatory cracks. The group found toys that exceed federal standards for lead, cadmium, phthalates, and other toxins that can impair child development.

And PIRGIM suggests some of those laws could be tightened up, too.

Spokesman Eric Mosher points to a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pencil case. It contains much more of the toxic element cadmium—about 600 parts per million--than federal law allows.

Kurt Spieles

A new toy store is opening on Woodward Ave. in Detroit next week. It'll be the first toy store in downtown Detroit since the Hudson's department store closed almost 30 years ago.

Spielhaus Toys will be a pop-up specialty store in D:hive's retail space from Oct. 25 to Christmas Eve. D:hive is an organization in downtown Detroit that allows local entrepreneurs to test out their ideas in their retail space for two months.