CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 089895 STB

Mr. Billy J. Gwin
Geo. S. Bush & Co., Inc.
1400 Exchange Building
821 Second Avenue
Seattle, Washington 98104

RE: Trolls

Dear Mr. Gwin:

This letter is in response to your request, dated July 8, 1991, concerning the tariff classification of a troll figure manufactured in Hong Kong. A sample was included with your request.


The sample figure is a pot-bellied, flesh-colored plastic figure standing erect on two legs and is approximately 2-1/2 inches tall. The feet have four toes each and the hands have four fingers. The figure has very long white textile hair which extends from a flat head; there is virtually no forehead. The portion of the head where the eyes are placed curves inward in a sharp angle and then gives way to a large upturned snout rather than a nose. The eyes are formed into very large pupils surrounded by a brown iris. The ears stick straight out from the head. A small piece of shiny silver material is attached to the belly to simulate a jewel inside the belly button.


Whether the troll figure should be classified as a doll or as a toy?


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 -2-

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 9502, HTSUSA, provides for "[D]olls representing only human beings and parts and accessories thereof." Explanatory Note 95.02 states 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), or for use in Punch and Judy or marionette shows, or those of the caricature type." The Explanatory Note further states that dolls "may be jointed and contain mechanisms which permit limb, head or eye movements as well as reproductions of the human voice, etc...."

Heading 9503, HTSUSA, provides for "other toys, reduced-size ("scale") and accessories thereof...." Explanatory Note 95.03 states that, among other things, this heading covers:

(A) All toys not included in headings 95.01 and 95.02. Many of the toys of this heading are mechanically or electrically operated.

These include:

(1) Toys representing animals or non-human creatures even if possessing predominantly human physical characteristics (e.g., angels, robots, devils, monsters) including those for use in marionette shows.

Customs has issued several decisions interpreting and applying the above Explanatory Notes and discussing the relationship of heading 9502 and 9503, HTSUSA, when they are competing headings. 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. -3-

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 HRL 085855, dated August 9, 1990, we discussed the above test and also noted that a person viewing a figure should be able to identify the figure as non-human without the necessity of viewing a particular movie or knowing a particular storyline. However, we also stated in HRL 085855 that there must be an "established popular culture" exception to the storyline rule. Some knowledge of angels, devils and certain monsters is necessary to immediately identify the typical characteristics of these beings as rendering the figures non-human.

HRL 081201, dated October 3, 1988, concerned troll figures very similar to those at issue here. In that ruling, we noted that the Explanatory Notes state that dolls should "represent" human beings and we cited Webster's Third New International Dictionary (1961) which defines "represent" to mean "to portray by pictorial, plastic, or musical art: delineate, serve as the counterpart or image of: typify." In that case we held that although certain troll figures may have, to some extent "resembled" human beings, they did not "represent" human beings and thus were not dolls.

As was the case with the trolls discussed in HRL 081201, it is immediately apparent to the casual observer that the figure which is the subject of this ruling does not represent a human being, but rather represents a widely recognized non-human creature, i.e., a troll.



The troll figure is classified under subheading 9503.49.0020, HTSUSA, the provision for toys representing animals or non-human creatures (for example, robots and monsters) and parts and accessories thereof, other than stuffed, not having a spring mechanism, other. The applicable duty rate is 6.8% ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division