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HQ 962618

February 3, 2000

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 962618 JGB


TARIFF NO.: 9502.10.0060

Ms. Christine Allers
Production Coordinator
Telco Creations, Inc.
120 Andrews Road
Hicksville, New York 11801-2730

RE: Animated Musical Snow White and other Disney Figures

Dear Ms. Allers:

This is in response to your letters of January 14, February 2 and 18, 1999, to the Customs National Commodity Specialist Division, New York, regarding the tariff classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), on Animated Musical Snow White and other Disney figures. Your letters, together with a sample Snow White figure, were referred to this office for reply. We regret the delay in providing this response.


The sample figure is the Disney character Snow White, standing on a plastic base and measuring about 15 inches in height. The flesh-tone portions are the head and forearms. The forearms hold a garland of artificial evergreen about 8 inches in length when extended. On the garland are seven two-dimensional paper “ornaments” each depicting one of the Seven Dwarfs following the Disney cartoon model. The figure is elegantly dressed in a formal ball gown with a sateen hooded cape of blue with a scarlet lining. The hood has a simulated ermine trim. At the neckline closure of the cape is a green and red ornament of felt about 1¼ inches in width, designed to look like a holly and berry ornament. In the middle of the back of the skirt portion of the gown is a wind-up key that allows the spring mechanism inside to be charged. The mechanism plays the tune “It’s a Small World” and at the same time causes Snow White’s head to gyrate slowly. Because there is no on-off switch, when the figure wound up, it “plays“ until the spring is discharged, about 1 minute, 25 seconds.

The figure is marketed with other Disney figures(Pinocchio, Peter Pan, Cinderella) in a catalogue depicting a Christmas setting, some of which incorporate electric lights and an electric motor. The catalogue states, “Famous Animated Disney Classics for Tree, Mantle or as a Tabletop.” The mechanism is identified as a Sankyo which is evidently capable of moving the head and the musical cylinder simultaneously.


Whether the Animated Musical Disney Snow White Figure is classified in heading 9208, HTSUS, as a music box; heading 9502, HTSUS, as a doll; heading 9505, HTSUS, as a festive article, or in heading 9618, HTSUS, as other animated displays used for shopwindow dressing.


Classification under the HTSUS is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). GRI 1 provides that the classification of goods shall be determined 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 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 the GRIs.

The HTSUS headings under consideration are as follows:

9208 Music boxes;

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

9505 Festive, carnival or other entertainment articles, including magic tricks and practical joke articles;

9618 Tailors’ dummies and other mannequins; automatons and other animated displays used for shopwindow dressing

With respect to classification in heading 9208 as music boxes, EN 92.08, part (A)(1), states ”Articles which incorporate a musical mechanism but which are essentially utilitarian or ornamental in function (for example, clocks, miniature wooden furniture, glass vases containing artificial flowers, ceramic figurines) are not regarded as musical boxes within the meaning of this heading [9208]. These articles are classified in the same headings as the corresponding articles not incorporating a musical mechanism.” The Snow White figure here is ornamental in function in that it is designed to please the viewer, regardless of whether the musical mechanism is operating; therefore, it appears to be excluded from the music box heading, based on its additional characteristics. By contrast, the EN to the doll heading, EN 95.02, in the exclusion portion, states that heading 9502 excludes “(a) Musical boxes which have a doll figure attached (heading 92.08).” It is, therefore, apparent that a “plain” music box with a doll merely attached would be classified as a music box. These articles are sometimes seen as, for example, the ballerina doll rotating on a music box platform.

With respect to classification in heading 9502, HTSUS, there appear to be no impediments to classification of the Snow White figure here. The channels of commerce would not be with standard dolls played with by children, yet the ENs for heading 9502 state that 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).” The physical characteristics of the article, that is, the fine quality of the painting on the head, as well as the fine construction and materials in the garments worn by Snow White, suggest a collectable showpiece for adults. It must next be determined whether the article qualifies as a festive article under heading 9505, HTSUS.

In Midwest of Cannon Falls, Inc. v. United States, Slip Op. 96-19 (Ct. Int’l Trade, 1996), aff’d in part, rev’d in part, 122 F.3d 1423, Appeal Nos. 96-1271, 96-1279 (Fed. Cir. 1997) (hereinafter Midwest), the Court addressed the scope of heading 9505, HTSUS, specifically the class or kind of merchandise termed “festive articles,” and provided new guidelines for classification of such goods in the heading. In general, merchandise is classifiable as a festive article in heading 9505, HTSUS, when the article, as a whole:

1. Is not predominately of precious or semiprecious stones, precious metal or metal clad with precious metal;

2. Functions primarily as a decoration or functional item used in celebration of, and for entertainment on, a holiday; and

3. Is associated with or used on a particular holiday.

Based upon a review of the articles subject to the Midwest decision, Customs is of the opinion that the Court has included within the scope of the class “festive articles,” decorative household articles which are representations of an accepted symbol for a recognized holiday, and utilitarian/functional articles that are three-dimensional representations of an accepted symbol for a recognized holiday. See the Informed Compliance Publication on the Classification of Festive Articles published in the Customs Bulletin, Volume 32, Numbers 2/3, dated January 21, 1998.

In addition to the criteria listed above, the Court considered the general criteria for classification set forth in United States v. Carborundum Company, 63 CCPA 98, C.A.D. 1172, 536 F.2d 373 (1976), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 979 (hereinafter Carborundum). Therefore, with respect to decorative and utilitarian articles related to holidays and symbols not specifically recognized in Midwest or in the Informed Compliance Publication on the Classification of Festive Articles published in the Customs Bulletin dated January 21, 1998, Customs will also consider the general criteria set forth in Carborundum to determine whether a particular good belongs to the class or kind “festive articles.” Those criteria include the general physical characteristics of the article, the expectation of the ultimate purchaser, the channels of trade, the environment of sale (accompanying accessories, manner of advertisement and display), the use in the same manner as merchandise which defines the class, economic practicality of so using the import, and recognition in the trade of this use.

In considering the Midwest standards, the article is not predominately of precious or semiprecious stones, precious metal or metal clad with precious metal. It does function primarily as a decoration; however, its association with a holiday, particularly the specific holiday of Christmas is weak. It is apparently marketed in connection with Christmas and other Christmas goods and it may be used during the Christmas holiday to decorate a table, shelf or mantel. However, there is substantial doubt whether this well known Disney character figure is limited, in any practical way, to use during the Christmas season. The gown and other clothes worn by the figure do not suggest Christmas or bear Christmas colors. The garland, clearly suggestive of Christmas, held by the figure is a very minor article, when compared to the entire figure. It could be easily removed during display of the figure at any time other than Christmas, in that it merely rests on the outstretched hands and is secured only with a loop in either end. Also, the holly and berry felt ornament at the neck, also a very minor feature, can be easily removed and set aside for later use. Moreover, the song played by the musical movement is not related to Christmas but is, rather, the theme song for Disney theme parks. Use of the figure during Christmas would probably not include playing the music portion. While a musical movement would not be turned into a festive article, by virtue of the song that it played, songs that are somewhat inconsistent with Christmas raise the question of whether the article is truly intended for use exclusively during the particular holiday of Christmas.

With respect to classification in heading 9618, HTSUS, this article is very unlike articles known as “automatons and other automated displays used for shopwindow dressing” as provided by the text of the heading. The most obvious inconsistency is that this article would not be commonly used for shopwindow dressing. It might be placed in a window of a toy store, but only to indicate to the public that it was for sale. It would not be a display to evoke a theme or a holiday. Furthermore, it is unlike automatons in that its movement lasts only about 1 minute and 25 seconds. To be effective as a shop window display, the shop owner would need to return to the window every two or three minutes to wind it up. The typical automaton will have sturdy electric motors that can be left operating for many hours and will permit a variety of motions simultaneously or in series to engage the attention of the viewer. That activity is in direct contrast to the simple and limited head gyrations of Snow White in this example. Note that this article is distinct from the indoor animated display figures listed in the Customs Informed Compliance Document on the Classification of Festive Articles published in the Customs Bulletin of January 21, 1998. Those figures typically display movement and sometimes lights and/or music, but the animated figures are continuous, permitting the article to be switched on at the start of a party so that it would perform for several hours.

In considering the competing headings, the article is classified in heading 9502, HTSUS, specifically subheading 9502.10.0060, the provision for “Dolls representing only human beings and parts and accessories thereof: Dolls, whether or not dressed, Other.” While there is some evidence that this article may be used for a festive holiday, the physical characteristics of the article are completely consistent with classification as a doll. The other figures are likewise classified in 9502, HTSUS, when representing human beings.


The Animated Musical Disney Snow White and other figures considered here are classified in subheading 9502.10.0060, HTSUS.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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