One of my favorite companies from the TechCrunch 50 launch conference was GoodGuide (review), a slick database of safety and social responsibility data on consumer products. At launch, the service covered health, beauty, and cleaning products. Launching now (and as originally promised): coverage of toys, and the company's iPhone app.
Cutting to the chase: The GoodGuide database will tell you if that toy you're thinking of buying has lead in it. Based on that, I'm sold. And having that info available on the run, via the new free iPhone app, makes it that much more useful.
The database could be bigger, though. I could not find many of my son's favorite Thomas the Tank Engine products in the system.
GoodGuide also tracks other health data for children's products. It will tell you about the use of chlorine (and indicator of phthalates) in products, and of other chemicals like arsenic and bromine.
As before, the service also includes social and environmental profiles of the manufacturers whose products it tracks, so you can tell if your toys are made under poor conditions, or if their construction is done at the expense of the environment.
I'd like to see an image recognition engine in the iPhone app (see SnapTell, Pongr) at some point, but I like these new additions to this good service.