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HQ 086633

September 18, 1990

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 086633 KWM


TARIFF NO.: 9502.10.4000; 9503.70.8000

Mr. Michael K. Tomenga
McKenna, Conner & Cuneo
1575 Eye Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005

RE: Reconsideration of NYRL 847931; Peanuts Farm Sets; Dolls and accessories; Toys put up in sets; Accessories.

Dear Mr. Tomenga:

We have received your letter dated January 31, 1990, requesting reconsideration of New York Ruling Letter (NYRL) 847931. In addition, we have received supplemental information dated May 18, 1990, regarding matters discussed at the meeting of April 20, 1990 between you and my staff. After careful consideration of your request, we have determined that NYRL 847931 is correct.


On January 22, 1990, your firm requested a classification ruling letter on behalf of Simon Marketing, Inc. The merchandise at issue consisted of two groups of figures and related objects. Each group is made up of three items:

Charlie Brown with Tiller and Seed Bag - (1) Charlie Brown, approximately 2+ inches tall, (2) a tiller designed to be "pushed", and (3) the seed bag worn over the figure's shoulder.

Lucy with Wheelbarrow and Apple Basket - (1) Lucy, approximately 2+ inches tall, (2) a wheelbarrow designed to be "pushed" by the figure, and (3) a basket of apples to be placed in the wheelbarrow.

Both of the figures depict Peanuts cartoon characters and are made of roto-cast polyvinyl chloride. The farm implements are packaged and imported with a particular figure, specially fitted to be "held" in the molded grip of the figures' hands, and are interchangeable among the figures. The loose items (seed bag and apple basket) are also interchangeable to a degree. In sum, the groups are marketed and promoted as a collection, but each is sold separately and as imported constitutes a complete product in and of itself. The goods were classified in NYRL 847931 as dolls of heading 9502, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA).

Subsequent to NYRL 847931, a ruling letter was issued to an unrelated third party classifying identical merchandise. In addition to the groups identified with Charlie Brown and Lucy, two other groups of similar make up were classified. These are described as:

Linus with Hand Cart and Milk Can - (1) Linus, approximately 2+ inches tall, (2) a hand cart designed to be "pushed" by the figure, and (3) a milk can which rests on the milk cart.

Snoopy with Cart and Hay Bale - (1) Snoopy, approximately 2+ inches tall, (2) a cart designed to be "pulled" by the figure, and (3) a hay bale which rests on the cart.

These items are, in all respects, similar to the goods described above. The second ruling, NYRL 844348, classified the merchandise as toys put up in sets of heading 9503, HTSUSA. You have now asked for a reconsideration of NYRL 847931 in light of the subsequent ruling. Your contention is that NYRL 847931 is incorrect; that the goods should have been classified as toys put up in sets, as the merchandise in NYRL 844348 was classified.


Are the goods at issue, Peanuts characters packaged with farm implements and farm-related objects, properly classified as toys put up in sets of heading 9503, HTSUSA, or as dolls under heading 9502, HTSUSA?


Classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). The systematic detail of the harmonized system is such that virtually all goods are classified by application of GRI 1, that is, according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relevant Section or Chapter Notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRIs may be applied, taken in order.

Because the original ruling issued to you classified only the groups identified with Charlie Brown and Lucy, the holding of this reconsideration is limited in its holding to those items.

Independent Play Value

Both of your submissions, and the information presented during the April 20th meeting, focus on the "independent play value" of certain elements in the Peanuts groups. Because that emphasis forms the basis for your assertions regarding the interrelationship of the components, a finding of essential character, and your proposal to classify the goods as "other toys" (as opposed to "dolls" and/or accessories), we will address it first.

Customs is required to classify goods in the condition in which they are imported. These goods are imported as groups of items, pre- packaged in plastic bags, each group representing a particular aspect of the farming theme. The individual items are not imported separately, nor are they offered for sale separately. Each group is clearly intended to be used as a complete set, the elements of which are designed for use principally with each other.

We do not initially consider whether or not individual elements of each group might be classified under other headings of the nomenclature. The issue in this case is not whether the items are classified, individually, as "other toys" as you have suggested. Carried to an extreme, any item, whether a toy or not, can have "play value", and by your analysis would be considered "other toys." In fact, in very young children, the relationship among the elements of a set may be irrelevant because they lack understanding of the elements' interrelationship. The fact that certain (or all) items in each set may be played with separately is of secondary importance. Rather, we look to their role as constituents in the imported group.

Classification as Dolls and Accessories

Our initial inquiry is whether or not, by application of GRI 1, any heading includes all of the items in the group. In that regard, we have considered classification in the following heading:

9502 Dolls representing only human beings and parts and accessories thereof:

Your letter of January 31, 1990 concedes that the figure in each group is a doll of heading 9502, HTSUSA. To classify the goods in the above heading would then require that the farm implements and other objects be considered "accessories" within the scope of the heading. You have indicated that you believe the farm implements and related objects are not accessories, but rather "other toys" of heading 9503, HTSUSA. We disagree.

The term "accessory" is not defined in the tariff schedule or Explanatory Notes. We are not, at this time, establishing a fixed definition of the term "accessory" for the purposes of heading 9502, HTSUSA. However, we do not agree with your contention that an item cannot be an accessory because it has a "substantial independent play value" (See, footnote 3, letter of May 5, 1990). As noted above, we do not find determinative an inquiry into whether or not the accessories may or may not have substantial independent play value, and might be classified in other headings if imported separately. The principal issue is whether or not the items, imported as elements of a group, are accessories.

An accessory is generally understood to mean an article which is not necessary to enable the goods with which they are used to fulfill their intended function. We find no requirement that accessories exhibit a reliance or dependance on the primary article with which they are associated; such a standard is more akin to that for parts rather than accessories. Accessories need only be related to the primary article, and must be intended for use solely or principally (according to Legal Note 3 to Chapter 95) with a specific article. Accessories are of secondary or subordinate importance, not essential in themselves, but adding to the effect of something else. As indicated by Legal Note 3, accessories are to be classified with their principal article. In this case, the groups of toys are imported as commercial entities, of which the farm objects are of secondary importance, clearly intended to be used principally with the figures. Each group does not attain a new or different character or use by virtue of its packaging as a group. Instead, each is dominated by a character figure, for which the farm objects have a natural affinity.

You have asserted that while the wheeled implements might be considered accessories, the other objects such as the seed bag and the apple basket are not. Your position is that these items are more closely tied to the wheeled implements rather than to the dolls themselves. We believe that a sufficient dependence exists to make all of the objects accessories. As we have said, the item to be classified here is the group, and as an element of the group each farm object fulfills the requirements for classification as accessories to the doll figures. The theme conveyed by the group indicates that both of the farm objects in each set are intended to be used principally with the figure.

Other Toys

Your letter further suggests that the terms "other toys" of heading 9503, HTSUSA, provide for groups of items such as these, under GRI 1. We disagree. The terms "other toys" are undefined in the HTSUSA. The Explanatory Notes to heading 9503, HTSUSA, suggest that the heading as a whole encompasses all toys not included in prior toy headings. The Explanatory Notes do not, however, suggest that the terms "other toys" alone encompass the same goods. This would be an overly broad reading of those heading terms. If such were the case, any group or set of items, all the elements of which were not within a single heading, would automatically fall within "other toys." This would, in turn, render useless the "set" and component goods rules of GRI's 2 and 3 for toy classification. The terms "other toys" provide a heading of the nomenclature intended to classify goods which simply cannot be classified in any other heading or subheading. It does not include groups such as these which are classifiable by GRI 1.

Essential Character

Even assuming, arguendo, that we were not to find that the farm implements are accessories for classification purposes, we do not believe that NYRL 847931 should be revoked. NYRL 847931 held that the essential character of the sets is that of the doll, and the sets should therefore be classified under the provisions for dolls. Instead, you believe that no single item establishes the set's character and that GRI 3(c) therefore dictates classification within heading 9503, HTSUSA.We have reviewed the material submitted with your letters, but do not believe it would warrant a change in the essential character determination.

A finding of essential character is, by its very nature, dependent on the components present in each instance. Under GRI 3, your assertions regarding independent play value may influence an essential character finding. However, a general policy cannot be established which will govern in all cases. In this case, each package constitutes a commercial unit or entity. The Peanuts doll figure is the predominant element, around which the group is formed and marketed. The other elements are secondary, contributing to the set but not holding so substantial a role as to alter the predominance of the doll nor subordinated to the identity of the set as a whole. The Peanuts characters represent the "draw" that spurs purchase of the goods, and will likely be the center of the child's attention. The doll figures are more colorful and more detailed. They are the element for which a licensing agreement was made. We view here the groups at issue and find in this case that the essential character determination of NYRL 847931 was correct.

Of those prior rulings submitted by you, several deal with groups of items all of which fall within heading 9503 (particularly those depicting animals or nonhuman accompanied by other toys). In others, it was determined that the doll figure did not establish essential character, based on the merchandise in that case. We hesitate to question here those judgments, and we see differences on which they may be distinguished.

Set Including Snoopy

The set which includes Snoopy is classified differently from the others. All of the elements of the Snoopy set are classifiable individually in heading 9503, HTSUSA, as other toys and accessories thereof, since Snoopy does not represent a human being. Within heading 9503, HTSUSA, we find:

9503 Other toys; . . . and accessories thereof:

Toys representing animals or non-human creatures and parts and accessories thereof:

By applying the GRI's, as in the above analysis, mutatis mutandis to the terms of heading 9503, HTSUSA, the groups containing Snoopy and related farm objects are provided for in the toy animal and accessories subheading. These items are not at issue here.

Request For Delay in Applying NYRL 847931

Finally, we do not agree with your assertion that the classification in NYRL 847931 represents a modification of the treatment previously accorded to substantially identical merchandise, as anticipated by Customs Regulation 177.9(e)(1-3). As noted, we believe the prior rulings you cite are distinguishable from NYRL 847931. In addition, there is insufficient evidence to support a finding of a uniform and established practice. Your submission does not establish that you have relied to your detriment on prior classification rulings. Therefore, your request that the effect of NYRL 847931 be delayed 90 days is denied.


We find that the classification ruling in NYRL 847931 is correct and decline to modify or revoke it here. The sets at issue in that ruling, Charlie Brown's Feed Bag 'N' Tiller and Lucy's Apple Cart, are classified in subheading 9502.10.4000, HTSUSA, as dolls representing human beings, whether or not dressed, not over 33 cm in height. The applicable rate of duty is 12 percent ad valorem.


John A. Durant, Director

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