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HQ 951190

March 31, 1992
CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 951190 STB


TARIFF No.: 9502.10.2000

Mr. Fermin Cuza
Director, International Trade Affairs
Mattel, Inc.
333 Continental Boulevard
El Segundo, CA 90245-5012

RE: "My Bundle Baby": Essential Character Determination, Doll vs. Bundle

Dear Mr. Cuza:

This letter is in response to your inquiry of February 25, 1992, requesting the tariff classification of an item that Mattel, Inc. is considering importing and marketing as "My Bundle Baby." A sample was submitted with your inquiry.


The sample consists of two stuffed dolls representing twin babies (in many instances only one doll will be included) retail packed with a "bundle" which is a toy version of a baby carrier.

The dolls are approximately 10-1/4 inches or 26 centimeters in height and are sold pre-dressed in textile clothing. Some of the dolls are provided with outward navels and some with inward navels. All of the dolls have heart shaped marks on the cheeks which change to stars when warmth is applied; the box instructs children to kiss the heart to view the effect. Additionally, the application of warm water will cause the eyes of the doll to appear to close and cold water will cause the eyes to reopen. Some of the dolls are designed to represent boys and some to represent girls.

The carrier contains a permanently affixed mechanism which provides the sound of a heart beat and the kicking motion of a child. The sound and movement are activated only by a switch connected to the mechanism; there is no sound or movement except when this switch is activated. The carrier is fitted with arm straps which permit it to be worn either behind or in front of
the child. According to the marketing material, the carrier with the doll(s) inside is to be worn primarily to the front so that the child can pretend to be pregnant. The heartbeat and kicking motion, when activated, are to accentuate this play activity. An additional aspect of this play activity, as marketed by Mattel, is the surprise that the child experiences after buying the merchandise in discovering whether the carrier contains a boy doll, a girl doll, or twins. Because the packaging does not reveal the sex or number of the babies, the user of the merchandise experiences this surprise only once, and that is when the package and carrier are opened for the first time, after purchase.

In addition to the sample, you also submitted, attached to a cover letter dated March 6, 1992, various documents to support your contention that the merchandise should be classified as dolls. These include the following: 1. A letter from a large chain toy store referring to "My Bundle Baby" as a doll, 2. Several quotes from national news sources referring to the merchandise as a doll and 3. Quotes from mothers and little girls obtained from a marketing research study of the merchandise which you contend supports your position that consumers see this product as a doll.


Whether the essential character of "My Bundle Baby" is provided by the dolls or the carrying pouch?


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 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. The Explanatory Notes (EN's) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, which represent the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level, facilitate classification under the HTSUSA by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and GRI's.

In this instance, the merchandise consists of several items packaged together for retail sale and thus may constitute a set.

With particular regard to the classification of items put up in sets for retail sale, GRI 3(b) provides in part that:

[G]oods 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, insofar as this criterion is applicable.

In order to classify the subject merchandise, it must first be determined if the goods constitute a set, then, if so, which component imparts the essential character to the set. As to the preliminary issue, the EN's, which constitute the official interpretation of the HTSUSA at the international level, state in Note X to Rule 3(b) that the term "goods put up in sets for retail sale" means 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....

We find that the items packaged together in this instance satisfy the above criteria and thus constitute a set. The dolls are classifiable in heading 9502, HTSUSA, the provision for dolls and the bundle is classifiable in heading 9503, HTSUSA, the provision for other toys. The dolls and other items are put up together to enable the user to carry out the specific activity of pretending to be pregnant and basically to provide another way of playing with and transporting the dolls. The items are put up in a manner suitable for sale directly to users without repacking.

Having determined that this merchandise constitutes a set, we next discuss the essential character question. Explanatory Note VIII to GRI 3(b) provides the following guidance for determining essential character:

The factor which determines essential character will vary as between different kinds of goods. It may, for example, be determined by the nature of the material or component, its bulk, quantity,
weight or value, or by the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods.

It is our determination that the essential character of this merchandise is imparted by the dolls. This is merchandise whose basic nature is that of doll merchandise; it is part of "The Magic Nursery" series which is centered on dolls. "My Bundle Baby" will be displayed in the doll section of toy stores as are the other items of the series. The "bundle" or carrier will not be sold separately.

The dolls provide the central role in the use of this merchandise. The carrier and mechanism are only another way to present and play with the dolls. The heartbeat and kicking simulations, which operate on batteries, only occur when the mechanism is activated. There will be many occasions, especially after the novelty of the mechanism has dissipated, that the user will play with the dolls and only use the bundle, if at all, as a carrier for the dolls. The dolls, then, are apt to provide greater prolonged play value than does the bundle with mechanism. The additional documents which you submitted, described supra, demonstrate that most individuals viewing and using this merchandise consider the dolls to be the principal items in the set. The dolls themselves are of a fine, attractively finished quality and have the several special features previously noted, i.e., the changing heart-shaped marks, the eyes that appear to open and close, and the different navels.

The dolls are the "draw" which motivates the consumer to buy the merchandise. Although the dolls themselves are not visible in the packaging, it is made clear on the packaging that a doll or dolls will be included in the set. The only reason that the dolls belonging to specific packages are not themselves visible is the "surprise factor", i.e., to surprise the consumer as to whether a boy, girl, or twins will be in the box. The fact that emphasis is placed on the initial surprise factor as it relates to the dolls further accentuates the importance of the dolls to the merchandise.

The determination that the dolls impart the essential character to the sample "My Bundle Baby" set is in accord with New York Ruling Letter (NYRL) 859519, dated January 25, 1991, concerning merchandise marketed as "Newborn Magic Bottle Baby." In that instance, Customs ruled that the doll constitutes the essential character of a set that includes, among other items, a doll and a battery operated bottle that produces electronic sounds of a baby's burp, giggle, cry and drinking sound.


The merchandise marketed as "My Bundle Baby" is classified in subheading 9502.10.2000, HTSUSA, the provision for dolls representing only human beings and parts and accessories thereof, dolls, whether or not dressed, stuffed. The merchandise is subject to duty-free treatment under the temporary provisions of subheading 9902.95.01, HTSUSA.


John Durant, Director

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