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HQ 089781

October 22, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 089781 LPF


TARIFF NO.: 9615.11.3000

District Director
U.S. Customs Service
One World Trade Center
Suite 534
Long Beach, CA 90831-0700

RE: Decision on Application for Further Review of Protest No. 2704-91-101431, filed March 26, 1991, concerning the classification of "Minnie 'N Me" Vanity Set

Dear Sir:

This is a decision on a protest filed March 20, 1991 against your decision in the classification of the merchandise in the following entries with dates of liquidation:
entry number date entered date liquidated
xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxx Dec. 21, 1990 xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxx Dec. 28, 1990 xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxx Jan. 4, 1991 xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxx Mar. 1, 1991 xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxx Feb. 1, 1991 xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxx Feb. 22, 1991 xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxx Mar. 8, 1991 xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxx Mar. 15, 1991


You classified the "Minnie 'N Me" Vanity Set under 9603.29.8000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), providing for hair brushes valued over 40 cents each, for entry xxxxxxx; under 9615.11.3000, HTSUSA, providing for other combs valued over $4.50 per gross for entries xxxxxxx and xxxxxxx; and under 9615.11.3000 and 9503.90.6000, HTSUSA, providing for other combs valued over $4.50 per gross and other toys, respectively, for entries xxxxxxx, xxxxxxx, xxxxxxx, xxxxxxx and xxxxxxx.

The protestant claims the merchandise should be classified under subheading 9603.29.8000, HTSUSA, providing for hair brushes valued over 40 cents each, or alternatively, under subheading 9615.11.3000, HTSUSA, providing for other combs valued over $4.50 per gross.

The "Minnie 'N Me" Vanity Set consists of two components. One component is a hair brush and mirror item. On one side is a heart shaped mirror approximately two and a half inches in width by three inches in length. Directly below is a plastic replica of Minnie Mouse. Both are embedded in plastic. On the other side of the plastic is a heart shaped hair brush with bristles approximately two and a half inches in width by three inches in length. A flat handle, about four inches long, lies below the bristles enabling the child to use the item as a hair brush.

The other component is a comb approximately six and a half inches in length by two inches in width. Both components are packaged and sold together in a box accompanied by a punch-out "Minnie 'N Me" logo. The back of the box includes cleaning instructions for the brush and comb.


Whether the "Minnie 'N Me" Vanity Set is a set for tariff purposes and is classifiable as a toy under heading 9503, HTSUSA, or alternatively, by its individual components: a plastic comb under heading 9615, HTSUSA; brush under heading 9603, HTSUSA; or plastic mirror under heading 3924, HTSUSA.


The General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) taken in their appropriate order provide a framework for classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA. The majority of imported goods are classified by application of GRI 1, that is, according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative 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 GRI's may then be applied.

Heading 9503, HTSUSA, pertains in part, to "other toys" (besides wheeled toys and dolls). The Explanatory Note to Chapter 95, HTSUSA, indicates that "this chapter covers toys of all kinds whether designed for the amusement of children or adults." The phrase, "designed for the amusement of" is generally understood to indicate that one considers the use of the article when classifying it as a toy.

Additional U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1(a), HTSUSA, provides that, absent language to the contrary, the following applies:

[A] tariff classification controlled by use (other than actual use) is to be determined in accordance with the use in the United States at, or immediately prior to, the date of importation, of goods of that class or kind to which the imported goods belong, and the controlling use is the principal use;....

Therefore, in order to be classified as a toy, the "Minnie 'N Me" Vanity Set would need to be principally used for amusement. Customs defines principal use as that use which exceeds each other single use of the article (HRL 088694). In this case, the principal use of the item will not be as a toy.

The court stated in Ideal Toy Corp. v. United States, 78 Cust. Ct. 28, C.D. 4688 (1977), "when amusement and utility become locked in controversy, the question becomes one of determining whether the amusement is incidental to the utilitarian purpose, or the utilitarian purpose is incidental to the amusement." The "Minnie 'N Me" Vanity Set is primarily designed to enhance the grooming and personal appearance of a child. The brush and mirror component is not flimsily constructed as is a toy or article for amusement. The character imprint of Minnie Mouse serves only a decorative role.

One may contrast the "Minnie 'N Me" Vanity Set with the merchandise that was the subject in HRL's 082974 and 082991. Those HRL's involved combs and mirrors of a limited functional capacity, in toy sets which included other articles, such as toy jewelry and make-up, designed to amuse the child. For these reasons, the "Minnie 'N Me" Vanity Set does not qualify as a toy under 9503, HTSUSA. Consequently, we must classify the vanity set elsewhere.

As discussed, supra, the vanity set consists of several components. One may classify these components as follows: the plastic comb under subheading 9615.11.3000, HTSUSA; the hair brush under subheading 9603.29.8000, HTSUSA; and the plastic mirror under subheading 3924.90.5000, HTSUSA. In accordance with GRI 6, GRI 3(a) explains, in pertinent part, that:

[W]hen goods are prima facie, classifiable under two or more [sub]headings, the articles are to be classified under the [sub]heading which provides the most specific description of the good in question. All [sub]headings are regarded as equally specific, however, when each refers to part only of the items in a set put up for retail sale....

Therefore, we must now determine whether the vanity set qualifies as a set put up for retail sale. To this end, Explanatory Note X to GRI 3(b) provides that the term "goods put up in sets for retail sale" shall be taken to mean goods which:

(a) consist of at least two different articles which are, prima facie, classifiable in different headings;

(b) consist of products or articles put up together to meet a particular need or carry out a specific activity; and

(c) are put up in a manner suitable for sale directly to users without repacking (e.g., in boxes or cases or on boards).

The vanity set meets the criteria for classification as a set since: (a) the comb, brush and mirror are classifiable in different subheadings; (b) the merchandise consists of items sold together to enhance a child's personal appearance and grooming; and (c) the set is packaged in a carton ready for direct sale to consumers without any repacking.

For these reasons, the "Minnie 'N Me" Vanity Set is classifiable as a set. Since the three subheadings mentioned above refer only to part of the items in the set put up for retail sale, we must attempt to classify the set pursuant to GRI 3(b) which provides, in pertinent part, that goods put up in sets for retail sale, which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character.

Explanatory Note VIII to GRI 3(b) provides that essential character may be determined by the nature of the material or component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of constituent material in relation to the use of the goods. Although the brush has the greatest value of the components, this alone is not dispositive of essential character. In fact, some of the brush's bulk and weight is derived from the attached mirror. The comb significantly provides bulk and weight to the vanity set as well. Furthermore, based on use, no one component of the vanity set imparts essential character. The packaging carton, for instance, refers to a brush/mirror component and a comb component which further illustrates the difficulty in deeming the brush to represent essential character.

Therefore, we must turn our focus to GRI 3(c) which explains that when goods cannot be classified by reference to 3(a) or 3(b), they shall be classified under the [sub]heading which occurs last in numerical order among those which equally merit consideration. According to GRI 3(c) this item is classifiable under subheading 9615.11.3000, HTSUSA; the provision which occurs last in numerical order.


The "Minnie 'N Me" Vanity Set is properly classified under subheading 9615.11.3000, HTSUSA, which provides for combs, hair- slides and the like...; of hard rubber or plastics: combs: valued over $4.50 per gross: other (than hard rubber). The general column one rate of duty is 28.8 cents/gross + 4.6 percent ad valorem.

The protest should be denied with respect to entries xxxxxxx and xxxxxxx, which were properly classified. The protest should be allowed in full for the remaining entries. A copy of this decision with the Form 19 should be sent to the protestant.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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