Do you remember, way back in the day, how incredible television commercial breaks were? They were almost as awesome as the kids show you'd be watching, because they comprised of 5 to 10 minutes of insanely colorful, manic and seizure inducing adverts for the latest and greatest toy on the market.
You'd beg your parents for one, they'd eventually oblige and "BOOM", it's off to the toy store for your new plaything! Awesome, right? In a majority of cases, yes. But what if the latest and greatest toy on the market was the product of gross negligence and/or oversight, and one day, whilst you were happily indulging in childhood, it just casually burst into flames in your hands, searing your flesh and scarring you forever?
Over the past fifty years, manufacturers have released some utterly mind boggling and savage products, that now, with the gift of hindsight, we can quite blatantly see were truly terrible and crazy dangerous ideas (remember Moon Shoes, anyone?).
So, join me now as I a look at back at 11 of the most dangerous toys of all time:
1. Bucky Balls
The seemingly harmless scientific joys that can come from constructing your very own sculptures from magnets, were obviously lost on little kids due to the reported thousands of children whom required surgery to remove these magnetic balls from their innards.
When Bucky Balls were swallowed, being magnets, they would bunch up inside children's digestive organs and snap together, causing internal tears, blood poisoning, blockages and the chance of death. Damn you, science!
2. Moon Shoes
Now here's a good idea, let's stick trampolines the size of cinder blocks to the bottom of kids' feet and see what happens!
Broken and fractured ankles and various scrapes and bruises were the result of uncoordinated kids playing astronaut in the late 80's and 90's.
3. Monster Science Colossal Water Balls
With these iridescent balls of magic came the promise that when made wet, they would expand to 400 times their size! Awesome!
Awesome until they were ingested and expanded in the digestive tracts of kids. These things were almost impossible to x-ray and would usually lead to a trip to the surgeon's table to remove.
4. CSI Fingerprint Examination Kit
This make-believe forensic examination kit (?) was meant to bring the science of the hit TV programme into kids' bedrooms across the country. But that wasn't the only thing it brought.
The Examination Kit's fingerprint powder was found to contain 7% of asbestos that would lead to lung cancer in later life. Imagine your little ones running around, casually blowing this stuff in your face! The manufacturer swiftly went bankrupt which thankfully means we won't be fooled again by its treacherous sorcery.
5. Splash Off Water Rockets
One of the many great ideas for a perfect summer's day, the Splash Off Water Rocket was activated by pressure from a water hose, and then by slamming your foot onto the launcher, rockets would fire off to a chorus of "AWESOME!"
What wasn't awesome, at least for a reported 37 people, were occasions where the rockets would explode from the pressure, or fly off in random directions! These mishaps would cause injuries to the face and hands, leading to a mass recall in 1997.
6. Lawn Darts
Remember these? The family-friendly mix of darts and horseshoes that involved happily lobbing giant darts with sharp metal tips at colored hoops on the ground?
If you don't remember, it's possibly because of the three dart related deaths between 1970 and 1990 that led the Consumer Product Safety Commission to ban them from sale. For good reason as actor John Krasinski discusses in the video below:
7. Aqua Leisure Baby Boats
There's nothing sweeter than giving baby his or her first jaunt into the lakes, rivers or the oceans of the world. Which is why the Aqua Leisure Baby Boat was such a great idea. Pop in baby and let them drift around on chilled tides.
One downside to this though, was that the Baby Boats were cheaply made, and liable to tear. So, if you're particularly unlucky, baby would eventually slip right through into the murky depths. The company was fined $650,000 for not reporting the defect, but rather than recall them, they would simply rework the design and keep on selling. The feds thankfully eventually caught up with them and dragged the products off the shelves.
8. Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab
Possibly my favorite attempt at childish fun on the list, kids of the fifties must've had the time of their lives with this science kit that actually contained real, bonafide radioactive material! Fuuun!
The kit contained "a beta-alpha source (Pb-210), a pure beta source (Ru-106), a gamma source (Zn-65?), a spinthariscope, a cloud chamber with its own short-lived alpha source (Po-210), an electroscope, a geiger counter, a manual, a comic book (Dagwood Splits the Atom) and a government manual "Prospecting for Uranium."
Fancy getting your hands on this beaut' of a collector's item? Well make sure you have up to $5,000 laying around. You know, no big deal.
9. Sky Dancers & Dragon Flyz
What was intended to be a toy that danced upon the air like a winged ballerina, actually turned out to be more of a face breaking projectile.
Released in 1994, it took 6 years and over 100 complaints to recall these toys! They were said to cause broken teeth, blindness and lacerations of the face. I always wanted a Dragon Flyz toy, kinda glad I never had one now.
10. Yo-Yo Water Balls
An interesting idea on paper, but in reality it played out like some kind of kiddy torture device. The Yo-Yo Water Ball was made of flammable diesel hydrocarbons, and, and, its sticky and stretchy cord extended long enough to wrap around the neck of a children, causing asphyxiation. They've been banned in Illinois, New Jersey, and New York, and have reportedly caused over 400 injuries.
11. Snacktime Cabbage Patch Kid
You've gotta remember these creeps. The Snacktime doll had a super special "real chewing action" allowing it to chomp down on toy foods, kids' fingers and hair too!
Though they weren't particularly dangerous, they were deemed a hazard enough for Mattel to corral off the shelves. Nice work, guys.
Bonus "WTF Is That?!" Badassery!
Shape Shifter Punisher
This punshing-on-the-eyes transforming action figure, can turn into a "power pistol" with only a few twists and clicks. Well...that's what she said.
So looking back over all these mental toys from yesteryear, of course in the right hands and with the right supervision they wouldn't be a danger at all. But still, these are children's products, why should we have to worry about, friggin', explosions and stuff?!