I just read your concern about Sophie being a choking hazard. I haven't taken the time to review all of the feedback on Sophie, but you have to take several things into account. You state that one reviewer found their child choking on Sophie's leg when they "walked into the room". Where were they and why was their infant left alone? The key to being a good parent is to supervise your child. Watch how they interact with their toys. There are many toys on the market for children under 3 that could become choking hazards under the right conditions. If you are leaving your child alone AT ALL they could quickly choke on something as benign as a blanket. My child has owned Sophie for 3 years now and I wouldn't even hesitate to buy her again. He began playing with her at 3 months of age. You have to take all of the ratings with a grain of salt......not everyone is the same type of parent. You can't shift the blame to the toy if you are not supervising your child to begin with.
I too almost bought Sophie for my infant who is now almost 6 months old. I had actually put it in my "cart" to purchase it. I removed it after I read MANY of the 1-star ratings that expressed personal experieces where parents had walked into the room to find Sophie's leg lodged in baby's throat. I found a significant number of the 1-star ratings had reported that same issue over and over. You figure that roughly 10% of the overall ratings for Sophie are 1-star, and a high number of those 1-stars are complaints about choking... those odds are just WAY too high for me to take the risk and buy the toy. The other thing that really bothers me is that I have never seen anyone - Sophie's makers or any of the parent's giving it a 5-star rating address those concerns. I would really like to see more interaction about that issue.
There are a lot of 1 star ratings that claim this to be the problem with the sophie teething toy. I am looking into getting a toy for my son and make sure to read why people give such low ratings and this is the number one this I saw.
I'm really glad I continued further down in the reviews. The first ones are raving about it. I almost purchased this for my soon to be Grandson. Thank you all for posting about the paint and the gagging. I will continue the search for a good teether/toy and stay clear of this.