We all know that things in the past were different. Children were playing with some borderline dangerous toys and no one seemed to look twice. Lawn Darts!? I mean just the name gives me pause for reconsideration.
Sometimes the sweet and innocent toys of childhood are not what they seem, and can contain fearsome dangers and unseen threats. Here, DoYouRemember looks at a scary pack of items from the ’50s to the ’90s. Which of these dangerous toys did you have?
1. Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Laboratory
Produced by Alfred Carlton Gilbert in 1950, this kit contained alpha particles, beta particles, gamma particles and four uranium-bearing ore samples, as well as devices kids could use to “actually SEE the paths of electrons and alpha particles traveling at speeds of more than 10,000 miles per SECOND!”
Its listing price in 1950 was $49.50, which today would be $458 and change. Less than a year later the toy was recalled because of concerns that children could ingest the radiation sources.
2. Lawn Darts
Introduced in the 1960s, banned soon after, defended in court in the 1970s, and returned to the market just in time to injure about 7,000 people between 1978 and 1988, lawn darts is a game made in a different, more naive time, when instruction manuals were written as if they’d be read.
The lawn dart was made of thick plastic, with a heavy weighted metal spike on the end; the object of the game was to throw one of these projectiles into the air and have it land on a lawn inside of a hoop. In 1988, after thousands of these dangerous projectiles connected with less desirable targets than the ground, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a notice that all lawn darts should be discarded or destroyed immediately.
3. Belt Buckle Gun
In 1959, Mattel introduced the Belt Buckle Derringer Toy Gun.To unsuspecting bad guys, this unique belt buckle looked harmless. But when the user extended his stomach, the gun swung out, firing a toy bullet and a cap.
Unfortunately, the caps could be accidentally ignited by friction and cause serious burns.
4. Battlestar Galactica Missile Launcher
Launched in 1978 with stickers that read, “Do not put or fire red missiles into mouth or towards face,” the Battlestar Galactica Missile Launcher was inevitably used to hurl said objects directly into mouths and towards faces, causing asphyxiation.
The toys were recalled a year later, in 1979, after choking, eye gouging and even a fatality had been caused by this death trap. When Mattel recalled the Missile Launcher, they offered a Hot Wheels car in return.
Clackers, also known as Knockers and Click Clacks, consisted of two large acrylic balls, which hung on either end of a heavy string. The two balls would swing apart and together, making the loud clacking noise that gave the toy its name.
If swung too hard, the acrylic balls would shatter, sending flying shrapnel everywhere. Clackers were banned in 1985 .
6. Sky Dancers
Foam wings, when spun at a velocity that promotes flight, can maim children. When a cord was tugged, Sky Dancers were shot flying into the air at random angles.
Introduced in 1994, they gouged and scratched more than 100 children until they were finally recalled six years later.
7. Cabbage Patch Kids Snacktime Kids
A toy reminiscent of Talky Tina from The Twilight Zone, the Cabbage Patch Kids Snacktime Kids had a habit of biting the hand that fed it and not letting go. One-directional rotating motors in the doll’s stomach and tongue mimicked eating, and activated when kids placed plastic food in its mouth.
But the motors started churning whenever anything entered its maw, including fingers and hair. These devices would remain activated throughout the screaming of terrified children, who found themselves being ingested by their innocent-looking doll. Introduced in 1996, the toy was recalled in January of the following year.
8. The Thingmaker!
My personal favorite toy that was deemed dangerous was Thingmaker’s Creepy Crawlers. I can remember everything about this great toy set, even the smell!
Made by Mattel beginning in 1964, Creepy Crawlers had some obvious issues for the safety of children playing. When you take the plastic goop and add an electric-powered mold that heats to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, you’re asking for injuries. Burning was the only problem. The fumes that the burning plastic would release was definitely not ideal for little ones.
9. Dangerous Toys that Weren’t ‘Technically’ Toys
The M80! We called them cherry bombs back in the day. I honestly can’t believe they were ever legal, as the bang they produced was nothing to joke about! Luckily, my brothers and I who played with them during long summers, all returned to school with all of our fingers! SO that’s a win!
It was good fun to explode anything we could find! A tennis ball, a tail pipe, an old shoe! We would put m80s in old radios and watch it shred!
- The Toys That Have Been Inducted Into National Toy Hall Of Fame
- Most Valuable Toys From Yesteryear
- Iconic Toys Created by Accident
- Etch A Sketch? We Could Play With This All Day!
The games in the links above are certain not the games taken away from us or banned from children. These were the treasured games. The ones we look back on and wish we still had or were still living in the days where we would sit around with our friends and play with toys rather than electronics.
What dangerous toys did you have? And which ones from the list of “safe” toys did you have? Do you miss those days as much as I do? Share your feelings, memories and/or comments in the comment section below!