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HQ 083471

June 8, 1989

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 083471 SS


TARIFF NO.: 9502.10.80

Mr. D.F. Miller
Import Manager
F. W. Woolworth Co.
233 Broadway
New York, New York 10279

RE: Tariff classification of animated display figures

Dear Mr. Miller:

Your inquiry, dated May 17, 1988, addressed to our New York office concerning the tariff classification of animated display figures under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated, (HTSUSA), was referred to this office for a direct reply to you. A sample was submitted for our examination. This is our decision.


The items in issue are animated and illuminated display figures, representing traditional characters and persons associated with either Christmas or Halloween season. Each figure is permanently attached to a display stand which allows the figure to remain in a vertical position. Additionally, each display figure incorporates an electric motor and the necessary mechanical components which enables the figure to move its head and arms in a predetermined pattern. This movement is activated by an on/off switch on the display base. Also, some figures include an illumination element such as an electric candle.

The figures are constructed mainly of plastic but can be of various materials. Depending on the cost, the features can range from a finely detailed sculptured look to crude caricatures. They are usually dressed in appropriate textile outfits. The figures range in height from 12 to 48 inches. The price of $69.99 was prominently displayed on the packaging carton of the sample submitted, a Halloween witch.


Whether the items at issue are properly classifiable under HTSUSA heading 9502 as dolls, or 9618 as animated displays.


Under the HTSUSA, tariff classification is determined according to the General Rules of Interpretative (GRI's). Under GRI 1, the primary consideration in the classification of goods is the terms of the heading itself which must be read in conjunction with the relative notes.

In the instant case, the items under consideration are animated and illuminated figures representing humans. Heading 9618 provides for tailors' dummies and other lay figures; automata and other animated displays used for shop window dressing. The Explanatory Notes for heading 96.18, which is the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level, provide in pertinent part:

(3) Animated and other displays used for shop window dressing.

These range from animated representations of humans or animals to numerous other automatically operating appliances of a kind used for displaying merchandise or for publicity purposes. They may be made of any material and are generally electrically or mechanically operated. Though frequently objects of curiosity in themselves, these articles are mainly intended to serve as novel methods of attracting attention to displays of goods or to particular articles exhibited in shop windows.***

Although the articles under consideration may sometimes be used for shop window dressing, the type of merchandising indicates that these articles are sold at retail to individual consumers for use as holiday and festive decorations. Also, based on the information available, these articles are not designed for the long hours of operation as required for shop displays. In fact, many of the packaging boxes clearly state that the use of these figures should be limited to three to five hours at a time.

Heading 9618 is a use provision. The additional U.S. Rules of Interpretation provide in pertinent part that "when classification is controlled by use (other than actual use) the principal use controls". Since the principal use for these articles is consumer use and not shop window dressing, these items are not classifiable under this heading.

Heading 9502, provides for dolls representing only human beings. The Explanatory Notes to 9502 state in pertinent part:

The heading includes not only dolls designed for the amusement of children, but also dolls intended for decorative purposes (e.g., boudoir dolls, mascot dolls), or for use in Punch and Judy or marionette shows, or those of a caricature type.***

This heading also excludes:

(c) Lay figures and automata of a kind used for shop dressing (heading 96.18).

The articles representing the witch, Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, boy, girl, and soldier all meet the description for dolls in the above heading. They have the physical appearance of human characters and, in this case, are dressed in characteristic festive and decorative attire to impart a particular mood. Application of GRI 1 to these articles results in their classification under heading 9502, as dolls representing only human beings.


The animated articles under consideration are properly classifiable under subheading 9502.10.80, as other dolls, dutiable at a rate of 12% ad valorem.


John Durant, Director

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