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HQ 955876

June 24, 1994

CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 955876 GGD


TARIFF NO.: 9502.10.4000; 9503.49.0020

District Director of Customs
1000 Second Avenue, Suite 2200
Seattle, Washington 98104-1049

RE: Internal Advice Request No. 3/94; "Stone Protectors" Action Figures; Dolls (Protectors/Heroes) and Toy Non-Human Creatures (Predators/Villains)

Dear Sir:

This letter is in response to Internal Advice Request No. 3/94, initiated by a letter dated October 8, 1993, submitted by Sharretts, Paley, Carter & Blauvelt, P.C., 67 Broad Street, New York, New York 10004, on behalf of Ace Novelty Co., Inc. The request concerns the classification of various action figures under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Samples were submitted with the request.


The "Stone Protectors" are individually packaged and presented in one of two separate styles. The first style, identified by item no. 76001, includes the original, battle-oriented figures, consisting of five protectors (Chester, Angus, Clifford, Cornelius, and Maxwell) and two predators (Zok and Zink). In the second style, identified by item no. 76002, Chester, Angus, Clifford, Cornelius, and Maxwell are presented as sports heroes, while two different figures named Suckerpuncher and Tackle Jackal are presented as sports villains.

All the figures measure approximately five inches in height, and are capable of standing erect. They have movable heads, legs, and arms, and all the hands have three fingers and a thumb.

The protectors/heroes (five figures of each style) are flesh- colored, very muscular, and (except for pointed ears) have human- like facial features (noses, eyes, and mouths, most with white teeth or a pink tongue visible). Each of the figures wears sturdy footwear. With respect to head shape, the top of the head is rounded in both versions (protector and hero) of Chester, who has red, Mohawk-styled hair. In each version of the other four characters, the hair (which is either light green, blue, or yellow) sticks straight up from the top of a head that is somewhat truncated. With the exception of only the protector version of Angus, however, the head distortion of the protectors/heros is mostly concealed by goggles, headbands, hair bands, or helmets, some of which are removable.

The reptilian-textured skin of the predators/villains (two figures of each style) is colored either yellow, rust, green, or blue. The truncated heads and faces are lizard-like, with jagged teeth or plates, red or lime-green eyes (Suckerpuncher has only one visible eye), and hair which is either green, purple, or yellow. Claws or spikes protrude from the footwear of the sports villains, while each of the predator figures has webbed feet with claws.


Whether the figures are properly classified in heading 9503, HTSUS, as other toys representing non-human creatures, or in heading 9502, as dolls representing only human beings.


Classification under the HTSUS is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). 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 GRIs may then be applied. The Explanatory Notes (ENs) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, which represent the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level, facilitate classification under the HTSUS by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and GRIs.

Heading 9502, HTSUS, provides for "Dolls representing only human beings and parts and accessories thereof." The ENs to heading 9502 indicate that the heading includes not only dolls
designed for the amusement of children, but also dolls intended for decorative purposes, or those of a caricature type.

Heading 9503, HTSUS, applies to "other toys," i.e., all toys not specifically provided for in the other headings of Chapter 95. The EN to heading 9503, HTSUS, indicates that the heading includes toys representing animals or non-human creatures, even if possessing predominantly human physical characteristics (e.g., angels, robots, devils, monsters).

Customs has issued several decisions interpreting and applying the EN above, and discussing the relationship of competing headings 9502 and 9503, HTSUS. In Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 086088, dated February 21, 1990, we stated the following:

At their joint meeting on May 4, 1985, the Nomenclature Committee and the Interim Harmonized System Committee decided that angels and devils could not be regarded as dolls within the meaning of heading 9502. This decision was based on the argument that this heading restricts its contents to dolls representing only human beings. The majority of the participants adopted the viewpoint that angels and devils should be regarded as toys under heading 9503.

It is Customs position that the intent of the committees in reaching this conclusion is to deny the doll classification to those figures which possess non-human characteristics that are immediately apparent to the casual observer. Where the non-human feature(s) can only be discovered by close examination, the doll classification may be appropriate. The phrase "close examination" may encompass the need to look closely, the need to remove the clothes of the figure, or perhaps even the need of the observer to guess as to whether a feature that appears to be non-human is, in actuality, such a feature. Most angels and devils possess readily apparent non-human features, i.e., halos, large wings, visible horns, pointed tails, etc. However, if a figure is marketed as an angel or devil, and yet appears human to the casual observer, then, again, the doll classification may be appropriate.

In HRLs 081201 and 089895, issued October 3, 1988 and November 4, 1991, respectively, we classified certain troll figures that were described, in pertinent part, as being pot-bellied, flesh- colored, erect-standing figures, having flat heads with virtually no foreheads, pointed ears, and large, upturned snouts. We noted the guidance provided by the ENs, that dolls should "represent"
human beings, and cited Webster's Third New International Dictionary (1961), which defines "represent" as meaning "to portray by pictorial, plastic, or musical art: delineate, depict...to serve as the counterpart or image of: typify." In each case, we held that, while certain troll figures may have "resembled" human beings to some extent, it was immediately apparent to the casual observer that the subject figures did not "represent" humans, but rather represented widely recognized non-human creatures, i.e., trolls.

Looking to the action figures of this case, we note that the only patent distortion of the protectors/heroes consists of pointed ears. The truncated heads of all four hero figures and of three of the four protector figures are able to be concealed by head wear that is either packaged with, or molded onto, each figure. As noted above, when a figure's non-human features can only be discovered by close examination (possibly requiring the removal of clothing), the doll classification may be appropriate. Even lacking concealing head wear, we find it unlikely that the crown of protector figure Angus's head is a non-human characteristic that would be immediately apparent to a casual observer, particularly in light of the figure's otherwise overwhelmingly human appearance. It is thus our determination that all of the protector/hero figures represent human beings and are properly classified in subheading 9502.10.4000, HTSUS, as dolls.

On the other hand, it is immediately apparent to the casual observer that the distorted characteristics of the predator/villain figures are not representative of human beings, but of non-human creatures. It is our determination that the figures identified as Zok, Zink, Suckerpuncher, and Tackle Jackal are classified in subheading 9503.49.0020, HTSUS, as other toys representing non- human creatures.


The "Stone Protectors" action figures named "Chester, Angus, Clifford, Cornelius, and Maxwell," and further identified as protectors and/or sports heroes (item nos. 76001 and 76002, respectively), are properly classified in subheading 9502.10.4000, HTSUS, the provision for "Dolls representing only human beings and parts and accessories thereof: Dolls, whether or not dressed: Other: Not over 33 cm in height." The applicable duty rate is 12 percent ad valorem.

The "Stone Protectors" action figures named "Zok and Zink," that are further identified as predators (item no. 76001), and those named "Suckerpuncher and Tackle Jackal," that are further
identified as sports villains (item no. 76002), are properly classified in subheading 9503.49.0020, HTSUSA, the provision for "Other toys...and accessories thereof: Toys representing animals or non-human creatures (for example, robots and monsters) and parts and accessories thereof: Other, Toys not having a spring mechanism: Other." The applicable duty rate is 6.8 percent ad valorem.

This decision should be mailed by your office to the internal advice requester no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. After sixty days, the Office of Regulations and Rulings will take steps to make the decision available to Customs personnel via the Customs Rulings Module in ACS, and to the public via the Diskette Subscription Service, Freedom of Information Act, and other public access channels.


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