Over the past ten years, the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission, from here on referred to as the CPSC, has recalled nearly 450 toys from store shelves across the country (172 of which were in 2008 alone!). This isn’t because the CPSC hates children and their desire to have a fun, but because they’re actually looking out for children and would like to see them alive to keep having fun. Sometimes this means you have to regulate the market so dangerous products are taken out of stores. The CPSC also makes sure the manufacturers of these products are held accountable to keep instances of dangerous toys from happening again.
Each year a number of these products are removed because they contain lead. In 2008, 19 of the 172 products recalled were pulled for that very reason. In 2009, only 50 toys were recalled by the CPSC, but 14 of them were because of lead. Recalling these products seems to be working as only 24 products were pulled in 2016 and only 1 of those products contain lead.
While lead seems to be a major and reoccurring issue as a hazard in children’s toys, some toys have proven to be problematic and harmful for far more severe reasons. The following toys were found to carry a risk of drowning, paralyzing, and even drugging a user.
15. Cosmo Beads Water Absorbing Polymer Beads
You’ve probably seen some brand of growing Polymer bead somewhere. They’re marketed in a number of different ways. A brand called Brainbrows markets them as a science themed learning experience. Some places market them as decor, a colorful item to be put inside clear vases or jars. Many brands simply market the toy as harmless fun. Unfortunately, the latter marketing method has seen some recalls.
The concept behind the toy is a small, hard ball about half the size of a popcorn kernel grows to several times its normal size when submerged in water. At their normal size, twenty to thirty could be swallowed with relative ease. Unfortunately, these balls will then grow inside the body and cause some serious issues.
The “jumbo” sizes from Eco-Novelty were recalled in 2013. While no known deaths occurred as a result of swallowing the toy, an 8-month-old baby was reported to need the balls surgically removed from her stomach. According to the CPSC, surgery is the only way to remove the objects from the body.
14. Toys R’ Us Remote Controlled Helicopters
As time has gone on, toys have become increasingly more high-tech and that tech has become smaller and smaller. Even relatively inexpensive toys can contain some kind of circuit board. There’s even types of candy that come in containers with moving parts and flashing lights. The problem with these cheap and easy electronic features is just that – they’re cheap. Cheap is nice for the wallet, but not necessarily good for a product.
According to the CPSC, these toy helicopters from Toys R’ Us have a rechargeable battery that is known to overheat. This can lead to pretty severe burns and even cause fires. If you think an overheating electronic component can’t get that hot, other toys recalled in the past for overheating were so hot they caused second and third degree burns.
13. Fisher Price Trikes
The injuries received from these Fisher Price trikes are enough to make you squirm
Fisher Price manufactured a number of different plastic trikes with an “ignition key” in the center. The feature seemed harmless enough but apparently the shape and size of the key on some models have led to very serious injury.
The keys are placed right where a child might fall forward if they hit a wall or stop too quickly. The D-shaped and disc-shaped keys have been known to cause serious additional injury when these scenarios happen. According to the CPSC, the injuries are as extensive as, get ready to cringe, genital bleeding.
12. CSI Finger Print Examination Kit
Not only was this toy rather deadly, but it took the manufacturer quite a bit of time to finally make an official recall. Even then they did it relatively slowly and quietly to avoid calling even more attention to their colossal screw up.
The CSI Fingerprint Analysis Kit already seemed a bit odd. Who bases a children’s toy on an adult and sometimes graphic show? What’s even more odd is the powder children used to dust for prints contained a high level of asbestos. Asbestos fibers can cut up your lungs when inhaled, causing serious respiratory issues. It’s also known to cause cancer later in life.
11. Snack Time Cabbage Patch Kid
The Snacktime Kid Cabbage Patch Kid recall is probably one of the more infamous toy recalls of all time. Cabbage Patch Kids were already quite popular and this new incarnation of the beloved toy was no exception.
This particular version of the Cabbage Patch kid came with a variety of snacks that the doll would appear to chew and swallow. To create this effect, the inside of the dolls mouth had two rollers what would turn on and pull in the food when it was placed in the mouth. Unfortunately, these rollers could not distinguish between the fake food, a child’s fingers, or a lock of their hair. Many complaints were called in and Mattel voluntarily called for the toys to be sent back. Everyone who complied was refunded their money.
10. Sky Dancers
Sky Dancers were a pretty cool toy and they were gearing up to be pretty big. In addition to the toys, there was also an animated series. The major selling point to the Sky Dancers was they came with a zip cord and base. When the zip cord was pulled the dolls would spread their arms and take-off into the sky. Problem is, they worked a little too well.
Many toys out there don’t work nearly as well as advertised. The fact Sky Dancers had any lift at all is pretty amazing. Unfortunately, they had a bit too much lift and it just wasn’t possible to determine where they’d fly, how they’d travel through the air, or how they would land.
The manufacturer was fined $400,000 for not addressing this possibility soon enough. Over 150 injuries occurred. The list of injuries included broken teeth, eye damage, concussions, and facial lacerations.
9. Family Dollar Auto Fire Target Set
When one sees a dart gun, they assume the injuries would probably have something to do with a dart striking a child’s eye. Many would think the worst case scenario involved with a toy like this is mild vision impairment. Unfortunately, this toy resulted in the death of a child. Twice.
The little darts that are inserted into the gun make for a wonderful thing for a kid to chew on. Children are known to chew on things and needless to say that’s what happened. The base of the darts are very thin and are made to fit into the gun’s barrel. Unfortunately, the top suction cup part is flat and wide. When children chewed on the darts they could be accidentally swallowed. The bottom part would slide down, but the wide suction area would lodge itself in the throat. Once it was in the throat, it was staying, completely blocking the airways.
8. Aqua Leisure Inflatable Baby Boats
While babies can’t swim, they do enjoy playing in the water and being outside on a nice day. A small inflatable boat built for holding a baby is actually a great idea. Unfortunately, it’s only a great idea of the inflatable boat in question is of good quality.
Some of the Aqua Leisure inflatable baby boats had a very weak inner harness. These harnesses could rip, sending the baby through the bottom of the boat and into the water. There were 12 reports of the seats easily tearing and babies falling through. Four of these children had become completely submerged. Fortunately the caregiver was always present and no deaths had occurred.
7. Aqua Dots
Here’s another recall that made serious headlines as it may be one of the craziest and unique recall situations of all time.
Aqua Dots seems like a pretty cool toy. You get a set of beads that you can set into place on a grid for the purpose of making cartoon-like animal characters or other works of art. Add a little bit of water and the beads permanently fuse together, preserving your homemade toy or artwork. Like any toy that has small parts, Aqua Dots came with a choking hazard warning on the box. Unfortunately, choking wasn’t the problem when the small beads were ingested.
The beads contained a coating that helped them fuse together when water was added. This coating, when ingested, would turn into GHB.
6. Yo Yo Water Balls
The Yo Yo Water Ball seems harmless at first. It’s really just a squishy ball connected to a stretchy, rubbery string. Unfortunately, when unattended, kids can turn just about anything into a deadly weapon.
There were over 180 reports of children playing with the ball and getting the string wrapped around their necks. No serious injuries were reported, but children did strike themselves hard enough to break blood vessels on their necks and faces, and the CPSC did cite a low level of possible strangulation.
Since most injuries were more or less from user error, an official recall was not put into effect. However, many major retailers decided to stand on the side of caution and pulled the toy from their shelves by their own accord.
5. Lawn Darts
If you grew up in the 1990s, you probably remember going to a picnic or a family reunion in a park and seeing a set of lawn darts, or “jarts” as some versions of the game were called. Lawn darts was a rather popular outdoor game for a while. What you probably don’t know is that game was banned in 1988 and should have been destroyed.
The game, which was sort of a cross between darts and horseshoes, came with two sets of over-sized darts, complete with giant over-sized metal tips. The darts had led to the deaths of three children and caused severe injuries to many others. The CPSC put an all out ban on the product. In addition, any sets owned outside of the market were to be destroyed.
Fortunately, the destruction of existing sets wasn’t legally mandated. If you own a set, you’re still welcome to play at your own risk. Just make sure no one gets hurt or you might have one hell of a civil suit on your hands.
4. Snap Bracelets
You may have played with snap bracelets as a kid and never imagined anyone could get hurt by them. Sadly, a combination of rough play and a cheap product tends to lead to injury.
Slap bracelets often had a very soft, sometimes furry, exterior. The inside is best described as the same type of metal you would find in a construction worker’s tape measure. Over time, the soft exterior would wear out and the metal would come through. When a straightened bracelet was slapped across the wrist to close, it would begin to cut open the wearer’s wrist.
The toys had been pulled from shelves in the 1990s due to injury reports, but they were not officially recalled. They saw a slight resurgence in popularity some time later, but the same exact incident occurred and this new wave was also pulled from shelves and refunds were offered.
3. The Slip N’ Slide
The wild thing about the Slip N’ Slide recall is the product was sold for over 30 years between 1961 and 1992 before any kind of recall went into effect. You might even remember playing on one for quite some time after the recall in 1993. Sure, they seemed a bit dangerous, but outside of occasional accidents, many of us probably don’t remember anyone getting hurt too badly on a Slip N’ Slide. Well, that’s probably because we used them as children as was intended.
At some point, teenagers and adults decided they wanted in on the fun as well. Unfortunately, the toy is meant specifically for children, and adults/teenagers could stop abruptly on the slide. Because of forward momentum, these abrupt stops could compress the spine, resulting in neck injuries, and even quadriplegia and paraplegia. The recall didn’t go into effect because of these injuries as possibility, but because instances of these injuries happened at least seven times.
2. Easy Bake Oven
The Easy Bake Oven, like the Slip N’ Slide, is unique because it was sold for decades before it was ever actually recalled. It’s also unique in that the oven has been pulled from shelves, put back on shelves, and pulled from shelves more than once and for different reason. It would seem the Easy Bake Oven isn’t made for creating cakes, but rather for creating injuries.
The first instances of recall were due to the bulb on the inside reaching temperatures above 350 degrees. Obviously, a bulb this hot can cause severe burns. The toys were pulled, precautions were taken, and the toys were put back on the market.
Later, it was found that while they might be able to make versions that make it harder for a kid to touch the bulb, other models were finding children getting their hands stuck and trapped in the oven.
1. Kite Tube
The Sportsstuff Wego Kite Tube seemed like it could be the next big thing for extreme sports enthusiasts and thrill-seekers. You would fasten the tube to a rope on the back of a boat as if you were just doing some simple tubing on the water. The Kite Tube added the thrill of being able to launch itself into the air and soar like a kite. Unfortunately, it wasn’t very predictable.
There was a rash of serious injuries during the Kite Tube’s run that included broken necks, punctured lungs, chest and back injuries, and facial injuries. In addition to these rather severe injuries, the Kite Tube was also the cause of at least two deaths.
Sportsstuff was never able to figure out a fix, pulled the product, and eventually went out of business.
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