There are coincidences – and some of them are real lucky strikes! Until my path led me to TÜV Rheinland, I did not know that toy testing was a real profession. Today, I feel that my job is precisely right for me.

A dream job made easy

Thirteen and a half years I have been employed by TÜV Rheinland as an expert for toy testing. After my high school graduation I did an apprenticeship as an industrial mechanic with focus on precision engineering. This was followed by further training as a mechanical engineering technician, to which I added technical business administration. At that time I was still working full-time, when an inquiry from TÜV Rheinland reached me via the job portal Monster.

Shortly afterwards I started as an expert for toy testing in the Toy City Nuremberg. After a stopover as team leader I am currently employed as laboratory manager. My tasks include organizing test procedures, coordinating deadlines and carrying out age classifications for toys. Of course, there is also a focus on employee management. In total, there are 16 employees in the laboratory and 50 in the entire department. A harmonious workflow is essential.  After all, chemical, mechanical and sometimes electrical experts work closely together on every project. For assembly, dismantling and photo documentation, technical staff are often added. Therefore, a certain skill for this job is particularly in demand.

Spielzeugprüfer Teddybär
A colleague tests how flammable the teddy bear is.

Important skills as toy inspector

The ability to work in a team is very important to us. You would notice this directly in our lab, because the atmosphere is very relaxed and laid-back. We also enjoy private team trips or barbecue evenings. Overall, I have a really good work-life balance. Made possible by a 38.5-hour week and flexible working hours. And on the other hand through the joy of my job. Because besides the ability to work in a team and coordination, another important skill is having fun. The practical tests are most popular here. This includes understanding the toys and knowing how they work. Although the fun factor is not listed as a test criterion, it is also tested by the colleagues. 😉

The most common flaws in toy testing

The diversity in the job results from the different products or toys. From the rattle to electronic toys and chemical construction kits, everything can be included. The bottom line is that you don’t know exactly what’s coming up in the next few days.

The requirements have changed a lot as well. The market is innovative, so toy testing has to adapt to the market. One of the most common shortcomings we complain about is chemicals in toys – pollutants such as plasticizers and PAH. 

Spielzeugprüfer beim Elektro-Sicherheitstest
A colleague checks the electrical safety of the remote-controlled car.

As far as mechanical criteria are concerned, small parts that can be swallowed by children under three years of age are still the ones we point out most often. To keep up to date, I have already participated in various internal and external workshops. For the actual work as an expert for toy testing, there are few external opportunities for further training. Therefore it is a special feature that we train our experts ourselves.

Spielzeugprüfer beim Zugversuch
A colleague is performing a tensile test.

Being safe under the Christmas tree

Just now, when the Christmas shopping is just around the corner again, we examine particularly interesting toys in our test laboratories – for example the dancing teddy bear, chanting “Jingle Bells”. The safety of the products under the Christmas tree is also our top priority.

For example, we check the volume of the Christmas classic so that it does not hurt sensitive baby and toddler ears. Or we check whether the teddy bear eyes are really firm and cannot be accidentally swallowed by the children.

Side job as toy consultant

When I mention “toys”, many people are listening intently and want to know what’s hip at the moment. I’m not a trend researcher, but we’re checking more and more traditional toys like wooden trains, which have been supplemented by electrical components such as remote control, lights, and sound. Classic handicraft items are experiencing a revival, and purely electronic toys such as drones are still very popular. One tried-and-tested toy that I especially remember as a child of the 90s was an Atari 2600.

A tip that I like to share before Christmas:

I also check privately in toy stores or discounters to see if the toys carry seals and test marks.

Especially during the Christmas season, parents ask me for tips on what to give their little ones. Since I know my way around the business very well due to my job, I am happy to help. But the safety of the toys is the most important thing and so I explain the nine tips for buying toys, which my colleague Rainer has summarized for you in a video – click here.

With children I can talk about toys on the same level. So as an adult I definitely get bonus points for my job as a toy inspector.

Author

Sebastian Rösch

Sebastian Rösch

Expert for toy testing and laboratory manager

Sebastian Rösch is an expert for toy testing and laboratory manager in Nuremberg.

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