For over sixty years, Toys 'R' Us stores were the ultimate destination for video games, Barbies, Legos, Beanie Babies and practically any new or classic toy imaginable. Colorful, bright and welcoming, the stores not only sold toys, but offered a fun place to pass the time.
While the company had to close down all its stores back in June 2018, there’s already talk of new stores opening up by the end of this year (Business Insider). There’s hope that nostalgic Toys ‘R' Us fans may walk down its toy-filled aisles once again.
Yet in spite of all the fond memories and toys to be had by this popular chain of stores, the company also had its share of controversies over the years. Below we take a look at some of the bombshells to hit Toys ‘R’ Us over the course of its history.
15 Selling Breaking Bad Toys
Toys can be dangerous, distracting and even in some cases, have a bad influence on kids. That’s what parents thought about Breaking Bad action figures sold at Toys ‘R’ Us. It largely had to do with an accessory the figures included that represents an illegal substance characters make on the show.
According to The Daily Telegraph, parents’ complaints forced the chain to pull the toys from their stores.
14 A Rave Took Place In A Closed Store
In the wake of Toys ‘R’ Us’ inability to pay its debts, stores across the U.S. and U.K. had to shut their doors. While many businesses have moved into these vacant properties, others have remained abandoned.
The Miami Herald reports that partiers put on a rave in one of the U.K.’s closed stores.
13 They Sold Off Domains For Possible Intimate Line Of Products
It’s hard to believe, but Toys ‘R’ Us considered a line of adult products. So much so, they even attained prospective website domains for them in case they ever explored making the products.
According to Hypebeast, in light of the company’s financial struggles, they ended up selling off the domain names.
12 Store Wall Vandalized In California
Even in a post-Toys ‘R’ Us world, the empty stores have attracted attention. According to KYMA, vandals wrote a message on the walls of a Toys 'R' Us in Calexico, California.
It had to do with a councilwoman for the city and someone scribed it in red letters on the side of a wall to the store.
11 Baby Rockers Recalled
Being that Toys ‘R’ Us had every kind of toy imaginable for sale under its roof, that meant some dangerous toys found their way onto shelves as well.
According to The New York Times, there was a recall on baby rockers their stores sold by the brand Kids II back in April. The recall came about as a result of five infants passing away due from using the rockers.
10 Laid-Off Employees Claim They Didn’t Receive Severance Packages
It’s bad enough employees got laid off. Yet adding insult to injury, as per a report by the New York Business Journal, employees claim they didn’t receive severance packages after the company let them go.
If true, that’s especially perplexing considering how much money execs got, which we reveal later on.
9 Closing All Stores
Perhaps the biggest (and most recent) scandal to hit the company was that it had to close up shop last summer.
The Nation reports that the company had accumulated $5.2 billion in debt, which ultimately led to layoffs and stores boarding up. Yet with news that two new stores are opening up, there’s now hope of a revival (CBS Los Angeles).
8 Hasbro Laid Off Workers, Then Held Toys ‘R’ Us Responsible
Back in October, Hasbro kicked Toys ‘R’ Us when they were already down. According to Herald-Mail Media, Hasbro had to lay off workers and faulted Toys ‘R’ Us and its closing stores as the reason behind it.
While Toys ‘R’ Us was already out of the game, it looked like the company was still hurting the popular toy brand.
7 Baby Rattles Recalled
When a particular brand of baby rattles by O Ball posed a risk to infants, the CPSC issued a recall.
According to ABC 7 News, this forced Toys ‘R’ Us and others such as Amazon and Target to stop selling the rattles ASAP. This incident happened back in March 2017.
6 Execs Left With $16 Million In Bonuses
It sure doesn’t seem fair, but execs at the company got paid loads of money while its workers had to look for other jobs.
The Nation reports that top execs were set to get a collective $16 million. Many raised their eyebrows at this as 30,000 of the company’s employees were suddenly without work.
5 Couple Stole Millions Of Dollars From The Toy Chain
Back in 2014, a couple hatched a scheme where they stole millions of dollars from Toys ‘R’ Us.
North Jersey Media Group reports that Philip Charles de Gruchy and his late wife had sent invoices to the toy company for services they supposedly never provided. Sentenced to prison in 2018, De Gruchy will serve five years.
4 Breaking The Terms Of A Temporary Visa Program
Toys ‘R’ Us got national attention for something back in September 2015 that didn’t make the company look very good. According to The New York Times, the toy company violated the terms of a temporary visa program.
They also mention other companies under investigation at the time who may have also broken these rules.
3 Baby Strollers Recalled
Another recall hit the stores over a model of strollers by Britax. According to Fatherly, the recall affected 700,000 units. The source notes that the strollers’ car seat could put infants at risk of injury because of a flaw.
Since Toys ‘R’ Us sold the stroller, they had to take action right away.
2 Banks Fined For Offering Deal To Toys ‘R’ Us
The news got out in 2014 that several Wall Street banks were willing to give Toys ‘R’ Us positive ratings as part of a deal. As a result, regulators came down hard with a fine reaching nearly $44 million altogether.
While it looked worse for the banks, Toys ‘R’ Us was again part of a scandal (BBC).
1 Going Private In 2005
Toys ‘R’ Us made the decision to go private in 2005, which in retrospect has the potential to rub many the wrong way. According to Management Study Guide, in doing so, the company withheld many of their sales numbers and how they were performing.
As a result, it ended up catching many off guard to hear of its financial troubles.
Sources: Business Insider, The Daily Telegraph, The New York Times, CBS Los Angeles, The Nation, KYMA, ABC 7 News, Fatherly, New York Business Journal, Miami Herald, Management Study Guide, Herald-Mail Media, North Jersey Media Group, Hypebeast, BBC