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15 Classic Toys That Are Incredibly Dangerous

15 Classic Toys That Are Incredibly Dangerous

Toys are supposed to be fun, not dangerous, right? Right. Children’s toys are meant to engage and challenge young minds, providing hours of amusement while often also helping kids develop their abilities. Some toys were designed to help youngsters develop both fine and gross motor skills, some help build problem solving prowess, while still other toys help share direct knowledge of numbers, colors, letters, and more. Then you have another subset of toys that seem to have been designed primarily to injure, maim, or humiliate their young user. (A few might even be able to do all three!) For the most part, we now call these “classic toys.”

Modern toymakers follow strict safety protocols established by the ASTM, the American Society for Testing and Materials, and you can trust that most toys currently being produced and sold are safe provided you follow all the guidelines for recommended age and use. Back in the day, no such rigour existed. Under scrutiny, you will realize that many classic toys were wildly dangerous despite often being popular and widespread. It’s really rather a wonder there were fewer accidents (or deaths) caused by the toys of the early and mid-20th century in particular. Or maybe folks were just tougher back then.

15. The Filbert U-238 Atomic Energy Laboratory

Via: Wikipedia

The so-called Atomic Age started with a bang in 1945 (or rather with several bangs, a couple of which devastated cities in Japan), and soon nuclear energy was being studied both for its destructive and its productive potential. It was in the spirit of this latter capacity that the same toymaker behind the famed and beloved Erector set created the ill advised Filbert U-238 Atomic Energy Laboratory. This science kit was designed to help kids learn all about atomic energy by conducting a series of experiments. The issue? The kit came with actual radioactive ore. Who doesn’t like their playtime with a side of increased cancer risk? Everyone.

14. Lawn Darts

Via: Wikipedia

The spear is one of the earliest weapons wielded by mankind. Often used as a handheld pole arm, spears were also effective (AKA deadly) when thrown at an adversary. As a race, we have known all about the danger of the spear for thousands upon thousands of years. So who thought it was a good idea to market miniature spears as children’s toy? Toymakers, that’s who! In the mid-1900s, lawn darts (which were sold by Hasbro under the redundant name Javelin Darts) were popular enough to be enjoyed by thousands of people around America, at least 6,000 of whom ended up at the hospital. And a few went to the morgue, too.

13. Slap Bracelets

Via: BuzzFeed

If you were a child of the mid-1980s and early 1990s, you surely remember that, for a while, slap bracelets were all the rage. Many kids wore multiple slap bracelets on each arm, others used them to perform elaborate tricks, while still more kids traded slap bracelets like a hot commodity. Then they basically disappeared. Why? Lacerations, that’s why. Also rust. And occasionally the two came together, and no one likes rusty lacerations, right? The slap bracelet as designed by American inventor Stuart Anders was reasonably safe, but the cheap knockoffs that soon flooded the market were made from cheap, sharp strips of metal that often sliced young arms and would rust quickly when their shoddy fabric wore off. Oh well.

12. Clackers

Via: Wikipedia

For starters, Clackers were pretty goddamn annoying, so very few people (and likely no parents) necessarily lamented the recall of these things. The toy consisted of two hard plastic spheres connected by a cord that, when shaken up and down at the right speed, would smash together and produce a loud clacking noise. What great fun, right? The other thing the spheres did was often shatter into sharp shards that could cut flesh or create a serious choking hazard. And the intact toy was a strangulation hazard anyway, approximating the design of the classic hurled bolas long used to take down animals in South America.

11. Sky Dancers

Via: Smosh

Do you remember Jade, Sky Clone, Angelica, and all the other classic, beloved characters from the animated TV show Sky Dancers? If not, that’s OK, most people don’t. The characters were never all that classic or beloved, in fact. But they did lead to a line of toys that sold relatively well in the mid-1990s. The Sky Dancer toys consisted of a base and a helicopter-style character that could be launched when the user yanked on a pull string that started the character’s rotors spinning. The flying toys, most of which looked like princesses, caused a few hundred injuries before the CPSC pulled them off the market.

10. Little Lady Stove

Via: Penny’s Vintage Home

When viewed through modern eyes, perhaps the first problem with the Little Lady Stove of the mid-1900s is the outright sexism of the toy kitchen set’s name. Can’t a young man cook as well, mid-1900s toymakers? That aside, the much bigger problem had to do with heat. 600 degrees Fahrenheit, in fact. Yes, this electric toy kitchen set designed for kids (well, for girls, it seems) could create temperatures that high within its cute little heating elements. That’s hotter than most standard ovens, for reference, and its a couple of hundred degrees hotter than one needs to inadvertently burn down a house, not to mention all the potential for injury.

9.  Cap Guns

Via: Wikipedia

Cap guns were first seen in the years following the American Civil War when many weapons manufacturers turned to toys in order to stay in production. The toys saw an immense jump in popularity in the years following WWII, largely thanks to the cowboy movies and shows popular in the era. The cap gun was a popular toy for the better part of 150 years; it was only in the past couple of decades that people began to question whether or not a toy that approximated the appearance, function, and even the sound of a firearm might not be the best thing for a child to play with.

8. Power Mite Tools

Via: Pinterest

No responsible person would ever let a child play with a power tool. That includes power drills, power sanders, and certainly power saws. After all, power tools can be extremely dangerous to people of all ages if handled irresponsibly. But wait, what if the power tools in question are slightly smaller than standard? Well, that probably makes them entirely safe for kids, then. At least that seemed to have been the thinking behind the Power Mite Power Tool line of toys that was released in the late 1960s. For indeed these were pretty much fully functional tools, just smaller.

7. Super Elastic Bubble Plastic

Via: MeTV

The tagline on the box of Super Elastic Bubble Plastic, a toy released by Wham-O in the 1970s, read “Makes Weird Colored Shapes.” And in fact if a kid playing with this stuff happened to inadvertently inhale too deeply during the course of his or her activities, he or she might see some weird colors and shapes, too. That’s because the elastic, fantastic bubble goop was made from ethyl and polyvinyl acetates, both of which are noxious and potentially poisonous. So the fact that the toy relied on a kid’s breathing to inflate the goop? Not an ideal arrangement.

6. Moon Shoes

Via: Groupon

Moon Shoes were first released in the 1950s and were made almost entirely out of metal, from the frames to the springs. They slipped on over a child’s shoes and caused plenty of cuts and scratches among all the bouncy fun. In the 1990s, a new variation of Moon Shoes was released, this time made out of plastic and using elastic bands to provide the bounce. These “mini-trampolines” for the feet were sort of fun, but mostly they were just hard to control, led to lots of abrasions despite the plastic frames, and caused the occasional broken wrists and ankles.

5. Snacktime Cabbage Patch Kid

Via: Etsy

In the year 1996, Mattel released the Snacktime Cabbage Patch Kids doll after what one can only assume was a rigorous 15-minute safety testing process. The doll used a series of metal rollers to draw tiny plastic snacks into its mouth, a mouth that munched up and down while in action, thus simulating genuine snacking action. The problem was that the doll didn’t much care whether it was “ingesting” the fake snacks that came with it or it was trying to munch on a human finger, a pet, or anything else. It was pulled from shelves by early 1997.

4. Slip ‘n Slide

Via: Toy and Game Warehouse

The Slip ‘n Slide is a rare toy in that it’s considered safe for kids of most ages, but not for older teens or adults. In fact the product was pulled off the market for many years, only to be later reintroduced specifically targeted for kids under the age of 12 (and 5 or older, for the record). The issue was that too many larger users were overshooting the end of the slick plastic and rolling over themselves on the ground, occasionally causing fractures or spinal injuries. Aside from that gap near the turn of the century, the Slip n’ Slide has been a staple of summer fun since the 1960s.

3. Fireworks

Via: Texarna Emergency Center

For most of the 20th Century, fireworks were sold throughout much of the United States with almost no regulations in place. Limitations and bans did not become widespread until the 1980s and 90s, and in many places you can still buy extremely powerful fireworks. This is true despite the fact that many of these things are ostensibly small munitions; they are rockets, explosives, or incredibly hot incendiary devices masquerading as diversions based on their bright colors and playful names. Yes, fireworks are awesome, but they are also totally dangerous in the wrong hands, especially those hands that are attached to kids.

2. The Classic Chemistry Set

Via: Pinterest

Many of the chemistry sets popular with science-minded youngsters in the middle decades of the 20th century were absolute disasters waiting to happen. Many of the kits contained dangerous ingredients in their raw form, such as sodium cyanide, which with the right concentration is quite lethal (and fast acting, too). Other kits contained a number of materials that were almost benign on their own but that could be easily mixed to create substances like, for example, gunpowder. It’s little wonder that chemistry kits are less popular these days; all the good stuff has been taken out in the name of safety.

1. BB Guns

Via: Amazon

Many years from now, people may look back at our time and say that paintball and airsoft guns are dangerous, foolish toys that no one should play with. But at least people using them tend to wear masks. Back in the day, kids ran around firing off BB guns with reckless abandon, often enough shooting right at one another in the name of fun. Granted an air gun firing a small copper BB probably never killed anyone, but they sure could cause serious eye injuries, painful wounds to the skin, and plenty of near-heart attacks for anxious parents.

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