The ‘most dangerous’ toys of all time
Whether it was that special teddy bear or that bright red fire engine mom and dad wrapped for Christmas, most never forget their cherished childhood toys. While toys have kindled childhood memories and sparked the imagination, unfortunately, some were a complete miss. These were later labeled as some of the nation’s most dangerous toys. And we’re not talking about a BB gun either (“You’ll poke your eye out!”).
It’s like a hula hoop but for your head! The Swing Wing was created by the same toy company that created Tiddlywinks and doctor kits and thought “what better way to play with the nervous system than to let a kid whip their heads with sheer hedonistic abandon?” Trick question, there wasn’t.
Little did these kids know that swinging their heads in such a motion could cause irreparable damage to their spines. Though the toy was created in 1965, it was eventually pulled from the shelves and off the head of youngsters. Thank goodness! No need to be a paraplegic at the age of eight.
Lawn Darts or Jarts
Lawn Darts (or Jarts) were far from being a novelty idea in the 1950s. The concept of lawn darts stemmed back to ancient Greek and Roman times — not as a game — but as weapons of war known as plumbatas. Unlike its deadly predecessor, the concept of Lawn Darts was meant to be tame and enjoyable for all ages.
Unfortunately, like it’s predecessor, they were just as deadly. An estimated 61,000 people have been treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries involving Lawn Darts between 1978 and 1986. All injuries revolved around young children. Can anyone blame the parents for wanting this “toy” banned?
Super Elastic Bubble Plastic
Can you smell the chemicals wafting from the tube? Nothing smells more like childhood than plastic … Let’s be real, anyone who saw the word plastic in this day would rage like Greta Thunberg. Now picture a toy — still used today — that is solely created out of liquid plastic? The noxious fumes contain ethyl and polyvinyl acetates, which are harmful to inhale (and it’s terrible for the environment).
The Super Elastic Bubble Plastic has been the birthday party bag toy treasure, but it comes with harmful side-effects. Save a couple of brain cells, save the planet, and stay away from bubble plastic. The last thing anybody wants is a brain aneurysm.
Cheap novelty toys have a special place in the hearts of children. Sure, nowadays kids gravitate to video games and apps, unfortunately, cell phones were non-existent in 1965, so a little ingenuity was needed to entertain the tiny masses. In this case, the Sixfinger toy was created. It was simple, conceal a gun in the form of an extra finger (because who’s going to notice that?).
The toy was a complete flop and recalled due to being a choking hazard and the risk of losing an eye (that’s why mom and dad didn’t get you that BB gun). Plus, the concept is a little boring.
Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Laboratory
At one point or another, most have imagined what it would be like to be a mad scientist concocting their latest invention in a secret lab. In the 1950s, the idea was genuinely possible. Insert the Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Laboratory kit. Yes, it’s exactly what you think, except, let’s take it a step further and add real radioactive material.
The nuclear age was booming, and kit creator A.C. Gilbert wanted to show families the important uses of nuclear energy, so the atomic lab was created in 1950. Eventually, the set included four samples of Uranium-bearing ores and an electroscope to measure radioactivity. The kit cost a whopping $49 USD (or $300 USD today). Thankfully, the kit is no longer sold at your local Toys “R” Us.
Remember that saying, “It’s as easy as riding a bike, once you learn how you never forget?” Well, toss that out, because nothing was easy whilst riding a Swing Bike. Developed in the 1970s, the bike’s allure was its quirky axle pivot. Of course, anyone looking at this bike today would know that the concept is a complete disaster and an accident waiting to happen.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the bikes disappeared in the late 1970s due to a wave of “bicycle safety consciousness,” meaning the inherent danger was obvious and parents were afraid of their kids getting into accidents while trying to maneuver the bike or attempt tricks.
Once upon a time, playgrounds were a safe haven for children all around the nation. Playgrounds are a place where children can run wild while parents sit back and watch their kids socialize. At one point in time, however, these safe havens were made of flesh-burning, often rusty, non-slick steel, alloys, and other metals.
We’re talking slides, merry-go-rounds, and jungle-gyms. What was hazardous about the metal equipment was their burning surfaces in the summer and the lack of cushion when someone fell, which caused severe bodily harm. Today, 200,000-plus children are treated for playground accidents. Broken bones were the most common injuries along with strangulation and head wounds. Yikes!
Who remembers Clackers? The ball-busting plastic orbs on a string would drive parents insane with insistent clack, clack, clack. The design was inspired by the South American bolas and was watered down to a brightly colored children’s toy. Fortunately, these toys were banned when reports of Clacker-related injuries came into play in the late 1970s.
What kind of injuries? There were reports that when hit hard enough, Clackers exploded, projecting acrylic shrapnel. The toy was banned in the mid-80s but remained one of the most popular toys of the decade. Disappointed? There’s always eBay (do people even bid anymore?).
Snack Time Cabbage Patch Doll
Everyone knows the story about how these potato-faced dolls won the hearts of America. Unlike other baby dolls, Cabbage Patch Kids brought something no other doll offered, adoption papers. For most children, the Cabbage Patch Dolls were family, and the appeal of adopting a doll had parents pillaging toy stores around the US.
But some Cabbage Patch dolls were returned to the patch. The Snack Time Cabbage Patch was a doll that could be fed an assortment of treats and the doll would actively swallow said toy food. Unfortunately, reports of hair and fingers caught in some dolls’ mouths caused minor injuries and had to be recalled.
Okay, so there’s nothing “dangerous” about candy cigarettes. What is dangerous is the idea of candy cigarettes. Sure they taste like chalk, and are not the world’s best candy, but it was the most appealing. As a young kid, some were faced with characters who just looked cool holding a cigarette, whether it was mom or dad or James Dean.
So, what better way to practice the look than a candy cigarette that — when puffed — blew out powdered sugar. Fortunately, most of us wised up (hopefully) and realized that smoking wasn’t all that cracked up to be. Aside from the insane cigarette prices, younger generations are more conscientious about their health.
Sky Dancers held a special place in every 90s kid’s heart. Similar to Care Bears in the 1980s, Sky Dancers entranced a generation that made them believe that fairies and magic were real. Unfortunately, they turned out to be a real pain. Sky Dancers were introduced in 1996 and it didn’t take long when injuries became imminent.
Little did girls (and/or boys) know, Sky Dancers were not made out of soft styrofoam, but were heavy, and — when in close proximity — could bop them in the eye, or get their hair tangled in the spinner (speaking from experience here). Though the injuries were minor, it was clear that the Sky Dancer is best used outdoors, away from pets and furniture.
Who doesn’t like to lounge in a hammock between two palm trees? It’s only logical that if grown-up enjoyed hammocks, so would babies! Unfortunately, the baby hammock posed more of a threat than an excitable asset. In fact, according to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC), baby hammocks were considered unstable.
It caused infants to roll and become entrapped or wedged against the hammock’s fabric or padding, causing suffocation. The result of such a flaw raised a red flag and had five hundred units recalled. It was recommended by the USCPSC that parents should find other means to replace the baby hammock if they have one in their home.
Slip ‘n Slide
No summer was complete without a slip n’ slide. Who would have thought that a slick plastic tarp would become one of the most sensational water toys of the century! When the days were hot and long, the kids had a blast on the slip ‘n slide. It was invented by Robert D. Carrier in 1960.
The product was sold to toy company Wham-O where 300,000 Slip ‘n Slides were sold within the first six months. Over 30 million were sold by its 50th anniversary. Unfortunately, the Slip ‘n Slide can be harmful when landing on the tarp. There are records reporting spinal and head injuries related to the summer past time.
Remington Derringer 1867 cap gun belt buckle
Remember those toy guns? If parents really loved their kids, they got them a silver filigree pistol with a popping cap. It felt good holding it in the palm of their hands and for a split second, kids believed they were in the old west shooting outlaws and roping cattle.
Unfortunately, like the real thing, the Remington Derringer cap gun was just as dangerous. The caps that made the gun pop was once made out of a substance known as “magic crystals” (calcium carbide). What parents didn’t know, was that if it got in the water, the caps would explode (Mr. Spock failed to mention that tidbit, didn’t he?).
The trampoline is a given; an obvious disaster. Before the net walls that protect the fleshy bodies of children and teens, the trampoline was nothing more than a spring trap. It took one double bounce, one misstep, for someone to end up with a sprained ankle or a serious head injury.
Today, trampolines send roughly 90,000 people to the hospital per year, according to Good Housekeeping. The American Academy of Pediatrics asks parents to do away with trampolines entirely. As said earlier, one recreational accident can cause collisions or falls that lead to broken bones — or worse — paralysis or death. Watch out and stay clear.
Before video games, kids couldn’t wait to strap on their shoes and play outside. It’s a recreational activity lost to the up and coming generation. What did kids like to do outside? Anything that sparked the imagination and, of course, there were toys. One fan favorite was the famed Skip-It.
The hula-hoop-jump-rope-hybrid was extremely popular in the ‘90s. Unfortunately, if not used properly, it could lead to some minor injuries. For instance, if you didn’t skip quick enough, the heavyweight rolling around the ankle would crash into the opposite ankle, leaving large bruises. Another pain (literally) was tripping over said toy. What better way to lose a few teeth than a game of Skip-It?
Pogo Bal was a more harrowing version of the pogo stick! There are no handlebars, no straps, just a rubber ball squeezed between a plastic ring. What’s the weight capacity? No one knew. The Pogo Bal was an excuse to potentially launch in the air and worry about landing later. Though it’s seen as a ’90s toy, the Pogo Bal was actually invented in 1969 by a couple of Belgian toy makers.
The original name of Pogo Bal was “Springbal,” but Hasbro decided to change the name to “Pogo Bal.” It was all fun and games until someone, ultimately, got hurt. Thankfully, kids in the ’90s (like most of us) were proud to come home with a couple of skinned knees and bruises. Viva la ‘90s!
CSI: Fingerprint Examination Kit
Who doesn’t want to be a part of a crime scene (aside from being the dead body of course)? As a kid, we wondered what it would be like to catch a criminal and dust for fingerprints. The irony? The kit might just be the reason for having your own crime scene.
Who didn’t like helping mom and dad in the kitchen? Especially when sweets were involved? Another brainchild of the mid-century, the Easy-Bake Oven was a national success and brought the magic of culinary in homes across America. The Easy-Bake Oven was introduced in 1963 and (sold separately) had a fluorescent light bulb that could heat up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
It has been a childhood favorite for over fifty years, and with it, some hazards. There have been reported injuries of children’s finger getting caught in the oven opening and a few cases of superficial burns. What can we say? Stay out of the kitchen if you can’t handle the heat.
Polly Pocket Magnetic Play Set
Like the Cabbage Patch Kid, Polly Pocket became a raging success. Introduced in the 1990s, the ideas of a little rubber and plastic doll was (oddly) a popular toy. Once it was apparent that Polly Pocket was a hit, other variations and editions were released, one of which was the Polly Pocket Magnetic Play Set.
The magnetic playset was revolutionary. Using magnets and a small dial, Polly could be pulled around her world hands-free. Unfortunately, the magnets were a swallowing hazard and could cause asphyxiation and organ rupturing when ingested. The toy had to be recalled after several reported injuries. Sorry, Polly!
Parents want to enjoy the pool without having to hold a wriggling toddler, so the idea of creating little inflatable boats for babies sparked an interest in pool-owning parents. Of course, accidents were bound to happen. Though the inflatable boats were (and still are) popular, reports of children drowning became a growing concern.
Boats would flip over and cause bodily harm to children. Faulty seat straps were also concerning for parents. Fortunately, the Baby Boats have evolved and had better safety features, such as using foam instead of inflatables rings, and better instructions on how to properly strap in a baby. Rest easy parents!
Who else had a family member that assaulted their younger sibling with a Nerf Gun? Though the Nerf Gun proved popular in the 1990s, the plastic gun was actually the product of the late sixties. The inventor Reyn Guyer (who was also the inventor of Twister, believe it or not) thought of creating a product that was safe and easy to toss around.
The idea bore the Nerf Ball and eventually evolved into the Nerf gun in the early 1990s. Since then, the kids have been shooting their comrades with foam projectiles that would often hit an eye or two. Not a considerably “dangerous” toy, but a freak mishap was bound to happen.
Every uncoordinated kid’s nightmare was Moon Shoes. Designed in the seventies, moon shoes were much more dangerous than their plastic counterparts. They were, quite literally, mini trampolines for feet. The original design had metal springs and parts that would cause more than a few injuries, including cuts, scrapes, and (if you’re a klutz like most of the human population) sprained ankles.
Though the toy updated, the dangers were still present. It’s safe to say that these toys were a fast-passing trend and quickly died out. Word on the street is Moon Shoes are available on eBay. So if anyone is looking to relive their childhood nostalgia, feel free to bid.
It’s not a robot, it doesn’t bark, and it doesn’t light up. The Pull-Along Dog is a standard wooden (or plastic) pup on wheels. You’d never guess that this toy was one of the most dangerous toys in 2018. Why? Because of the string. That’s right. A small tethered rope is enough cause for alarm.
Apparently the painted pooch has a dark side: strangulation. Parents beware, for if your child entangles him/herself in this two-foot twine, serious problems could arise. In all honesty, even the simplest toy can be a hazard to younger children. Like most toys, the Pull-Along Dog should be monitored when played.
Yo-Yo Water Balls
Remember toy dispensers? Inside were a colorful array of plastic containers that concealed mystery trinkets from fake tattoos to parachute soldiers. Some, if lucky, got a bigger prize like the Yo-Yo Water Ball. The memorable toy was made of squishy silicone filled with mystery liquid. It bounced in your hand and made kids’ hands just as sticky.
What a time to be alive! Unfortunately, the mystery liquid inside was not so kid-friendly. The string attached to the Yo-Yo Water Ball was linked to strangulation and the liquid inside was said to be a skin irritant. The sticky rope was an adherent to itself, so when it wrapped around itself (or a neck), it was harder to untangle.
Kids love to craft, and parents love it when the craft is low maintenance and easy to clean up. Cue Aqua Dots, the craft toy that creates lovable shapes with just a spritz of water. Kids could create a menagerie of images from cat faces to hearts. Unfortunately, the bonding agent that adheres to the shape after getting wet is dangerous if ingested.
Well, most toys are dangerous to ingest, but in this case, the chemical bonding agent found in Aqua Dots contained alarming amounts of an illicit substance akin to Rohypnol, or in modern terms, roofies. Best shelf this craft project.
Magnetix Magnetic Building
According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC), Magnetix Magnetic Building set is labeled as a toy that is linked to “Serious Injuries.” Like the Polly Pocket Magnetic Play Set, if the magnetic components were swallowed, it could cause internal damage.
The USCPSC reported, “[If ingested] the objects can attract to each other inside the intestines and cause perforations and/or blockage, which can be fatal, if not treated immediately.” To date, there was one reported death linked to the toy and 27 intestinal injuries. Whatever happened to the wonders of building blocks? No magnets needed and hard to swallow (perfect for teething).
Bug lovers rejoiced when presented with a toy that truly reached their interest. The Creepy Crawlers set was a big hit since 1965 and has been the source of torture to parents everywhere. The Creepy Crawlers set was revived in the ‘90s but made significant improvements in safety. The original set didn’t have restrictions on the chemical materials provided.
So, when baked, the chemical components released noxious fumes and posed a threat when inhaled. If the fumes weren’t enough, it was burned fingers, but that was easily managed opposed to losing a couple of brain cells. For bug lovers, the risk was worth taking.
Splash-Off Water Rocket
The Splash-Off Water Rocket was the perfect summer toy. Not only do you get relief from the heat, but kids could launch a rocket into the air. Science disguised as fun, who knew! (unless being a nerd was fun, then don’t let us burst your bubble). The downside of these water projectiles was its unpredictability.
When launched, it was reported the rocket would veer in different directions and hit nearby bystanders. Another dangerous feature? The rocket was prone to exploding before take off. The water pressure would cause the toy to expand and combust, causing more injury. The toy was recalled in 1997 and hasn’t been as popular since.
Admit it, Socker Boppers was used more for revenge than for casual play. Who didn’t utilize these inflatable fists to pulverize a sibling or two? Another classic ‘90s toy, the Socker Bopper was known for, not just its product, but it’s catchy commercial. Not only was it painful to get bashed in the face with a plastic inflatable fist, but it caused a few (minor) injuries.
The injuries made this popular toy, a not so popular toy for mom and dad. The Socker Bopper trend eventually deflated and what many are left with is the sweet memory of punching out our younger siblings and reigning champion supreme (that is until they have a growth spurt and exact their own revenge).