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Recycled Crayons are back (for a limited time)!

I'll start by apologizing for not updating the blog for so long.  Hopefully I'll do better with this in the future, but if you'd like to keep better track of us, and see special offers and updates that we don't post here or on our main website, please join us on Facebook or on Twitter where I do a much better job.
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In any case, I have some good news to share today: our recycled crayons will be back in time for Easter!  I'll be re-listing some in our shops starting today, and we'll be ramping up production again to try and get everything restocked in time for the Easter season.

Due to a bit of confusion on our part we stopped selling them after the CPSIA legislation came out and the original stay was lifted, thinking the extra 3rd party testing far too expensive to continue selling these.  The testing would be prohibitive, however, it turns out that there is still a stay in place for these types of products, which has recently been extended until the end of this year.

I would like to stress that our crayons *are safe*.  We only recycle crayons that conform to the ASTM-D safety standards, which have been in place for years.  The extra layer of testing that the CPSIA will eventually require, however, is expensive, and nearly impossible to do for one of a kind recycled products.  We melt down wax in color batches, as needed, and would be expected to ship off samples and pay for separate testing on every single batch, if not every single crayon.  This would make our crayons ridiculously expensive, and would be far too much hassle to justify.

With the stay in place, however, we will be able to offer them until the end of the year.  So stock up soon if you need crayons :) 
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We're Re-Opening May 3rd!

After a number of months off, I've made the decision to re-open StoryBlox, as of Monday May 3, 2010.  Check back closer to Monday to see if we'll be having any great kick-off specials :)

We will start out by opening our Etsy Store with some of our keepsake products (Birth Announcement Blocks and NameBlox) and our Promotional Products (PromoBlox, Promotional Spin Toys, and Promotional Yo-Yo's).  From there, we will work on adding other products as we're able, and eventually getting our own web store back up and running.

While I'm hoping all of our products can be back by the time the Christmas season rolls around, I'm not sure we'll be able to do that, given the CPSIA regulations that, unfortunately, haven't changed much or been amended.  It does seem that they have decided to allow component testing, though, which is what's allowing us to reopen.

Once our full line is back up and running we'll do an official Grand-Reopening.

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Closing our doors, at least for now...

If you’ve tried to stop into one of our shops lately you probably noticed we’ve been on vacation while I try to make a decision.

Last year, as you know, there were a string of toy recalls involving massive numbers of toys, some from major manufacturers, which had made it into our children’s hands containing toxic lead paint. This sent consumers running in droves for small manufacturers, like us, for the Christmas season last year, and it also spurred Washington into passing, very quickly, a very flawed piece of legislation known as the CPSIA.

If you haven’t heard about the CPSIA, or don’t understand what all the fuss has been about, you can read more about the legislation here: and more detailed and recent news here:

The CPSIA was written so its different statutes took effect on a schedule. At this time, the bill has come into full effect, but the CPSC – the body that’s in charge of enforcing the law – still has a “Stay of Enforcement” in place for parts of the bill, which expires at the end of this year.

Until recently, I had high hopes that this law would be amended. There have been numerous amendment attempts from various members of congress, some with a decent amount of support, but as far as I know all attempts have been killed by special committee before they even got to a vote. Now that the bill is in full effect, and we’re rapidly approaching the end of the stay of enforcement, I have been forced into making a decision I did not want to have to make.

As of today, I am announcing, with deep regret, the indefinite closing of StoryBlox.

Our toys are, and always were, safe. Every paint we’ve used is certified non-toxic and lead-free. We have documentation certifying every finish and glue that we use, as well. Unfortunately, none of this matters. The CPSIA legislation will require that we get a separate, destructive, 3rd party test on every single end-product toy we sell – regardless of the components, regardless of the cost. For a company that runs small productions, the costs of testing are so high that there is no way to cover them, let alone make any profit selling the products. For a company like ours, which does most of its business in custom, one-of-a-kind toys, the testing process would destroy each product before it could get to the customer that ordered it.

We do not mass produce our products, for that our customers love us, and for that congress has made it impossible for us to continue selling our toys without breaking the law. Some small businesses are taking the “just keep selling things until they catch you” approach, but I am not comfortable with that attitude. Regardless of my personal feelings towards this law, it is still law. Even if I could get my mind around the idea of ignoring a law because I disagree with it, the fines in place for ignoring the impossible requirements of this law are astronomical.

The way the law reads right now, a company selling a perfectly safe toy – which complies with all lead, phthalates, small parts and flammability requirements – that has not labeled the toy correctly, or cannot provide a proper 3rd party testing certificate for that toy, can still be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars, at the whim of the CPSC. As a small business without the resources of a major corporation, we cannot afford the testing, or the risk of fines for not testing. As a disabled woman living on a meager income, I certainly cannot take this risk.

I had originally planned to keep our business open, selling only our promotional products, and possibly some or all of our keepsakes (which are not aimed at children), while waiting on the law to be amended. After much deliberation, however, I have decided that I am not comfortable doing this. StoryBlox was founded on educational blocks; education has always been our main focus, and a StoryBloxwithout educational toys is just not the same company. I would rather shut down for now, and wait on the necessary changes, than compromise because of a bad law.

I hope that this is not the end for us. Hopefully, in a year or two, common sense will win out, and the law will be amended so that it actually protects our children, while encouraging, rather than destroying, small businesses like ours that have been producing safe products from the get-go. If and when that happens, hopefully I will be in a place where I can re-open the business.

I sincerely apologize to our loyal customers, who were looking forward to purchasing our toys this Christmas season and beyond. I would like to encourage all of you to talk to your representatives and let them know how this is affecting you as a consumer.

Thank you for your years of support.

Tammy Bowles

StoryBlox Creator

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Find us on Twitter

We've done a very bad job of keeping our fans and customers updated, and I feel horrible about it.  We're a very small operation and most everything that has to be done is done by me, and I don't find the energy to write blog posts or send out newsletters as often as I'd like to. 

So, I started a twitter feed a while back, and it seems to be working pretty well.  It's much easier to send a one-liner update than it is to log in and write a blog post, or create a newsletter.

So, if you would like to keep up with our latest, your best bet is to follow our tweets here:

Since I'm doing our updates on Twitter now, for the most part, I'm going to try to use this blog for more interesting things.  Sometime in the next week or so I'm going to start with a list of (imho) the 10 most essential toys in any childhood.
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Easter Line/Twitter/CPSIA Stuffs

Easter Egg Spin ToysHappy Easter!!

I've been so busy working on getting our Easter line listed that I completely forgot to come back and post when we made our decision regarding CPSIA legislation and our listings.

Our Easter Line for this year includes everything from bright colored dice and yo-yos to bunny crayons, crayon egg cartons and tri-color easter egg spin toys.  These can be found on our etsy shop in the holiday section.

CPSIA Update:

Since we have 3rd party verification/certification on all of the products we use in the manufacture of our toys, we know that we are able to meet or exceed the requirements in the new CPSIA legislation.  Also, because our paints are certified "lead-free" by our supplier we do not believe we fall under the requirements of the lead-paint testing rule, as it is written in the legislation.  So we will be able to continue selling our toys, at least until the expanded rules and labeling laws go into affect in August and/or the new testing requirements go into effect at the end of the year.  For that reason we have relisted all of our products on our Etsy shop (which is our main shop while our sales site is under renovation).  Our toys (including the painted toys) were relisted after our previous update, I just forgot to blog about it to let everyone know (oops).

New Ways to Follow StoryBlox:

Since I'm pretty bad about remembering to update this blog, send out newsletters, or update our website, I'm trying a couple of new things.  StoryBlox now has a Facebook Page as well as  Twitter Stream.  I will do my best to keep both as up to date as possible. 

Flickr Account Gone:
On another note, our Flickr account was deleted, for reasons that will likely forever remain unknown, so our apologies that the images on the rest of this blog are now broken.  We will do our best not to use 3rd party hosted images in the future.

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Painted products under the new CPSIA laws

In the days leading up to the new CPSIA law going into affect the interpretation of some of those laws has still been hotly debated.

It is still unclear, in our minds, whether paints that have already been certified as lead-free (as all of the paints we use have been from the beginning) fall under the section of the CPSIA law which requires 3rd party testing to ensure painted items meet the new "Lead Paint" limits.

There has been a stay announced allowing an extra year without required 3rd party testing for most items. This stay does not apply to items falling under the 'lead paint' category, and as such we are still unclear whether our painted toys fall under this stay or not.

Accordingly, we have removed all painted toys intended primarily for children under 12 from our main storefront for the time being. Once we have satisfied ourselves that we're safe to relist them under the new regulations we will do so.

In the meantime, if you would like to purchase one of our painted toys, and intend it for use for a child over 12 or an adult, please contact and we'll list the item privately for you.

As a side note, we have determined that all of our other items, including the recycled crayons, DO fall under the new stay, so they are relisted as of this morning. We are confident that none of the products we sell contain phthalates or lead.
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Recycled Crayons Sticking Around...?

The CPSC has granted a one year stay of testing and certification requirements for certain products under the new CPSIA regulations. This means that products will still have to meet the new requirements, but the expensive third-party testing we mentioned in our last post will not yet be required.

Since we're sure that our products are safe, I believe this means we may be able to continue selling our products (including the recycled crayons) after the February 10 deadline mentioned before. We will still have to look into this a bit further, but I believe we will decide to continue selling most if not all of our products at least through the end of the year.

There is also new proposed legislation being put forward on this issue, that may help us futher -- I'll post again as I learn more.
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More Info on CPSIA - What you can do, etc.

It just dawned on me that while I posted information on how the new CPSIA legislation will affect us, I forgot to put a link to more information about the legislation itself.  Since new information becomes available day by day, and since the actual bill itself is like reading Greek, I'm going to link for the information page for one of our favorite blogs, Cool Mom Picks.

Clicking on the cute little handmade bear to the right will take you to the page that our friends at CMP have put together with more information about what CPSIA is, what it will change, who it will affect, and how you can get involved. 

Please consider getting involved if you haven't already.  This bill, if left unchanged, will cripple the local and handmade toy industry and will force thrift shops to either shut their doors or stop selling anything for children; IMO without making any significant change in the safety of the toys on our shelves.  The only toys we'll be left with are cookie cutter toys, made almost exclusively overseas by mass manufacturers, who can afford the expensive testing because of the huge number of toys they're turning out -- that and those never cared enough about toy safety to make safe products in the first place, and who will probably still ignore this law like they did the ones that were previously in place.

Save Handmade Toys

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How CPSIA will affect StoryBlox - Recycled Crayons Discount

In February, new CPSIA legislation will go into affect that will force us to either shut down our business, or restructure.  The new legislation does not require any safety standards that our products do not ALREADY meet.  However, the new legislation does require expensive testing that we cannot afford on most products, and is impossible on others.

Under the new law, we would be required to test every single product -- since our products are handmade, no two are alike, and the majority of our sales are for toys that are customized for each order.  This testing is very expensive (I've heard quotes from $400-$4000 per toy) and would only be economical if we switched to manufacturing toys in quantity (probably overseas) so that we could test one product and sell 1000 identical products to make up the cost of testing.

Since we have absolutely no interest in mass-manufacturing our toys overseas, and even if we did we would not have time to arrange this,  we will be forced to restructure or close our business.
  • In February,
    • At this time we may be able to self-certify our products as meeting the new requirements - if we find means to test that we believe meet these new requirements, we will make every effort to keep most of our products in stock between February and August
    • Recycled Crayons - though all of the crayons we use have always met the ASTM-D standards, I cannot think of a means to test each and every batch of crayons that we melt down to recycle.  For this reason, I believe we will be forced to stop selling any recycled crayons as of February 10, 2009.
  • In August, if the legislation has not been changed, we will be forced to stop production of any toy for children 12 and under.  At this point we will either close our business, or we will restructure and continue selling promotional products only. 
So, in light of this, we will be offering a 10% discount on all recycled crayons this month (just put CPSIA in the notes and wait for an updated invoice).  If you have been looking at our crayons, you'll want to purchase now, as we will no longer be listing these after February 9.  I'll be adding more crayons over the next couple of days, as well as listing our Easter crayons early for anyone that's wanting to buy this year.

Check our shop for the crayons currently available.

Announcement: Crayon Recycling Program

We've finally worked out the details, and you can consider this the official kick-off for our crayon recycling program.  We're always in need of new crayons, please feel free to share this with everyone you know :)

5% Off per Pound of Crayons Received (25% Max Discount1)
on Your Next Order of Up to $2002

This means that for each pound of crayons you send to us, you can take 5% off of your next order. We will round your shipment up to the nearest pound, so if you send a handful, you'll still get a 5% discount, if you send 2.5 lbs you'll get a 15% discount. Discounts will apply to your next order of up to $2002, and the maximum discount you can receive is 25%1.  This discount cannot be combined with any other special offers, and must be used within a year of receipt of the crayons.

Crayons can be sent to:
StoryBlox™ Crayon Recycling Program
c/o Customized Data Solutions
P O Box 27
New Vienna, OH 45159
Be sure to include your name, organization name (if applicable), and a number and/or email address you can be reached at so that we can contact you to verify receipt. Crayons sent can be any brand, size, shape, color, or condition. Dirty, broken, labels, no labels... we'll take whatever you have and sort it out later.

1. Special exceptions may be made to the 25% max discount or schools, churches, and other educational organizations. If your organization has more than 5 lbs worth of crayons to send in, please contact us through our website, here, before shipping if you'd like to discuss this possibility.
2. Depending on what you're ordering, orders over $200 may qualify for a wholesale discount, which would probably be better than the recycling discount.  If you place an order of this size after sending your crayons, you can use the discount on your next order under $200, as long as it's used within a year.