10 Incredibly Dangerous Banned Toys

10 Incredibly Dangerous Banned Toys

They say that it's all fun and games until somebody loses an eye. Technically, the same applies to skull fractures, poisoning and third-degree burns. Throughout history, toy makers have designed some truly brutal products (lawn darts, anyone?). But with modern-day lawsuits, you'd think we would have curbed that problem. Yet, in their fervour to create the next Slinky, Etch A Sketch or Tickle Me Elmo, toy manufacturers continue to put dangerous product designs on the market.

In the notorious examples listed here, throwing a tantrum to get a toy can quickly turn into convulsing from its unintended effects. Some of these banned toys were the result of oversights. Others are so glaringly dangerous that it's a wonder they were ever put into children's hands in the first place.

10. Slap Bracelets

10 Incredibly Dangerous Banned Toys

Picture: Hey Paul Studios

Snap bracelets are spring-loaded metal bands wrapped in colorfully designed plastic or cloth. They can be straightened out until rigid and then slapped against a wrist, causing the bracelet to curl into place. The popular wearable toy fad of snap (or slap) bracelets reached a head around 1990. Like many toy fads, they were very popular in schools. You'd think children would grow tired of repeatedly slapping tacky leopard print or hot pink wrist-wear across their arms, but you'd be wrong.

Unfortunately, it didn't take much for the more cheaply made versions of the toy (which retailed for under a dollar) to start causing major problems. They'd slice into children's tender flesh when the metal band inevitably wore through its covering. Some schools banned the bracelets. The knockoff versions were investigated nationwide and recalled in droves. But they made a resurgence in 2012 when certain animal-themed designs were recalled for exactly the same reason.

9. Monster Science Colossal Water Balls

10 Incredibly Dangerous Banned Toys

Remember those tiny little capsules that promised to magically grow into giant dinosaurs like the ones on the package? When dunked in water, those capsules would only transform into lumpy, vaguely dinosaur-shaped disappointment. Now what if we told that child version of you that there was a marble-sized ball that, when wet, could literally grow to 400 times its original size? Fun, huh? Now imagine that these colourful marble-sized balls somehow made it down into your small intestine.

Such a scenario was posed by Monster Science Colossal Water Balls. Naturally, many a whippersnapper ingested the delicious-looking toys, which their genius designers made capable of expanding within a child's body. Woe be to those who also choked down the ominously labelled "Growth Powder". From there they caused life-threatening episodes of vomiting and dehydration. To top it all off, these things were impossible to X-ray and required surgery to remove.

8. Aqua Dots

10 Incredibly Dangerous Banned Toys

As our last entry proved, it's no secret that little kids like to put random stuff in their mouths. With this in mind, non-toxicity should be a pillar of any good toy. That's not always the case. There are lapses in judgment that include slightly toxic paints or plastics, and then there's making a product out of a substance that, when eaten, turns into a date rape drug.

When arranged into designs and then sprayed with water, Aqua Dots "magically" locked these colorfully arranged designs into place. The bad news was that kiddos could also suffer respiratory depression, be rendered comatose, or suffer seizures from the severely toxic chemical used to make them. Over four million units were recalled when it was determined that "magical" beads weren't worth all the comas. One kid was even hospitalized for five days.

Eventually, Spin Master, the maker of Aqua Dots, was revealed to have known that their product contained a controlled substance. After multiple reports of life-threatening effects on children (and, in one case, a dog), Spin Master was forced to pay out over $US1.3 million in "magical" fines.

7. Kite Tube

Nope, emblazoning your highly dangerous airborne equipment with a skull and crossbones and the slogan "Never kite higher than you are willing to fall" will not prevent your product from being banned. The Wego Kite Tube experienced such a fate. That will happen when two people die and dozens of others are severely injured (including a broken neck and punctured lung).

The Kite Tube, which was 3m wide, allowed a boat-pulled rider to yank a cord in order to glide into the air. Unfortunately, once riders were airborne they were given little control over the flying tube. Admittedly, a parasail mixed with an inner tube sounds pretty amazing. But unfortunately, with only stirrups and hand grips to keep you from falling, flying to the height of a three-story building probably wasn't the best idea. Kids weren't the only ones impacted by this incredibly dangerous toy.

At least the recall came more or less voluntarily. The company responsible claimed that there was no way to determine the actual cause of accidents, but that they would recall the tubes "out of an abundance of caution."

6. Cabbage Patch Snacktime Kids Dolls

10 Incredibly Dangerous Banned Toys

Picture: Blippee.com

Remember those Garbage Pail Kids trading cards that grossed out parents in the '80s? They had nothing on actual Cabbage Patch Kids dolls that seemed to develop a taste for children. The Snacktime Kids doll involved a motorised mouth mechanism that allowed the doll to "eat" plastic foods. Kids being kids, it didn't take much for fingers and hair to get trapped in those evil dolls' unforgiving maws. While such a doll wasn't exactly life threatening, parents unsurprisingly didn't like their kids' favourite new pals pulling their hair out by the roots.

The most charming aspect of these terrifying eating machines was that they were made without any on/off switch. In at least one instance, this led to a girl virtually being scalped all along the backside of her head. Mattel may not have identified any obvious hazard in theirs tests, but thankfully that didn't stop them from pulling the dolls from store shelves. Unfortunately, Cabbage Patch Snacktime Kids dolls are still available in your nightmares.

5. Buckyballs

10 Incredibly Dangerous Banned Toys

Picture: Visitor7

Desk toys are obviously marketed toward a slightly more mature audience. But that doesn't mean they're guaranteed to keep kids away from the surgeon's knife. Buckyballs were "super strong" magnetic ball bearings that could be used to construct creative desk sculptures or even "to play 'darts' on your refrigerator". While that part was true, the whole "stress reliever" marketing angle proved far more ironic. Unfortunately, these round magnets slid easily down youngsters' gullets.

When multiple magnets were swallowed, they had the nasty tendency to clamp togetherthrough intestinal walls and not let go. This could lead to tears in organs, blood poisoning, bowel blockages, and possible death. Due to the large number of balls in each set, it was also difficult for parents to notice when a handful of them may have gone missing inside Junior. And accidental ingestion wasn't limited just to the tykes, either -- teenagers routinely played around with them to mimic tongue and lip piercings.

The government ultimately deemed Buckyballs a danger to consumers. But unlike the 1000 or so children who required surgery to remove their product, the Buckyballs manufacturer didn't take that lying down. In fact, they refused to voluntarily recall their product, forcing the feds to sue. When the inventor dissolved his company rather than fund a recall, the government came after him personally in an effort to collect the $US57 million in costs. After a bunch of posturing on both sides of the argument, the inventor settled for about 1 per cent of that figure. One thing's for sure -- the guy had balls made of steel.

4. CSI Fingerprint Examination Kit

10 Incredibly Dangerous Banned Toys

Picture: eBay.com

While there's something a little grim about children playing with toy forensic investigation kits meant to mimic the collection of evidence at a murder scene, at least it's just for fun. After all, kids have come up with some pretty twisted forms of play since time immemorial. Marketed off the popular CBS crime show, CSI Fingerprint Examination Kits allowed kids to snap on the latex gloves and collect incriminating play evidence, most notably by dusting for fingerprints. Unfortunately, the fingerprint dust that came with the kit also contained a real-life occupational hazard -- one of the deadliest forms of asbestos.

In fact, the fingerprint powder was found to contain up to 7 per cent asbestos, the variety of which has been proven to be capable of causing lung cancer later in life from only a single exposure. So what about the kids slathering the stuff on everything from doorknobs to the cookie jar and then blowing the dust in the air? You don't need to be David Caruso to deduce that it's not a good idea. Not surprisingly, the toy manufacturer responsible for this product went bankrupt.

3. Splash Off Water Rockets

10 Incredibly Dangerous Banned Toys

Remember earlier in this list when all those kids ate date rape drug-covered toys and ended up in comas? Remember how their manufacturer had to shell out $US1.3 million because they knew about the danger but did nothing? Well, Spin Master already had plenty of other awful toy ideas long before that. Besides their toy aeroplanes that managed to burn users, or the other toy aeroplanes that broke apart mid-air, in the late '90s they even made a toy rocket that could explode. Just like the real dangers of space travel!

The Splash Off Water Rocket used water pressure from a hose to build up energy until kiddos and hobbyists could stomp on the launcher and send the rockets flying. Sadly, at least 37 cases were reported of the rocket exploding from the pressure or otherwise flying off in unpredictable directions, causing lacerations to the hands and face.

2. Aqua Leisure Baby Boats

10 Incredibly Dangerous Banned Toys

Babies love water. They love to splash in it, toddle through it, drink it and let it loose right in their pants. So for parents intent on setting their babies adrift, the Aqua Leisure Baby Boat was an adorable godsend. Too bad the cheaply made inflatable boats tended to tear rather easily, causing dozens of babies to plunge right through.

Aqua Leisure was ultimately fined $US650,000 for knowing about the problem for six years but hiding behind the classic "but-no-babies-have-actually-drowned-yet" justification. Every time they received a series of complaints, they'd tweak their design (along with the name they sold them under) and keep selling them. They went so far as to actually withhold complete information about the defect from the feds, which it turns out is a big no-no.

1. Easy-Bake Ovens

10 Incredibly Dangerous Banned Toys

For some reason, many children through the years haven't realised that they don't need to waste their preciously short childhoods baking their own cookies. The popularity of the Easy-Bake Oven, which uses a real heating element to actually bake dessert items, may have reached its apex in 2006. That year, it was voted into the National Toy Hall of Fame. But Hasbro, the makers of the Easy-Bake Oven, didn't have long to celebrate. A year later they were forced to recall one million of their plastic models when it was discovered that a design flaw allowed the oven to easily trap and severely burn children's tiny little fingers.

This is obviously a recipe for disaster, especially given that the ovens could reach temperatures of up to 200C. All told, nearly 250 incidents were reported, including 16 cases of second- or third-degree burns. One unlucky five-year-old girl was even forced to undergo a partial finger amputation.

This article has been reposted with permission from Listverse. To read in its entirety, head here. For more from Listverse, you can head here or Like them on Facebook here.

About the author: Josh Goller thinks it'd be nice if the wages of sin would include a cost of living increase every once in a while. He edits the flash fiction lit zine The Molotov Cocktail and will be judging its first ever Flash Monster contest.




    I had the fingerprint kit, I still have some buckyballs and my sister had the aqua dots. The fingerprint kit is the only one that really shocked me though, I spread that dust literally everywhere, including on the plates and mugs the instructions recommended that you test it on.

      I had a fingerprint kit too... Not that one but something similar. Had no idea.

      Also I thought the aquadots turned into GBH not a date-rape drug.

      And the kite tube is exactly why I gave up kite surfing. Sure you have more control but a gust can still throw and drag you uncontrollably.

        The one you had probably was just talcum powder, that's what most of those things are (I used it after I ran out of asbestos-death-toy powder).

        GBH or Gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid is a date rape drug. Also used to treat psychiatric conditions like narcolepsy.

        Yeah I remember that a lot of adults were buying them up for the hallucinogenic effects

    I have a few sets of Buckyballs and they're amazing. They shouldn't have been banned, they're marketed to adults and have multiple warnings on the website and packets.

    Parents should be more careful, knives are harmful to kids yet they're not banned.

      Actually in some places you apparently have to show ID just to buy plastic cutlery.

      I couldn't make this up even if I was drunk.

        Most supermarkets do. But that's not a Kids thing, it's a Weapon thing.

        So if that's the case you should have to show your ID to buy Buckyballs then.

        Also, I've never had to show ID to buy cutlery, plastic or metal, in NSW. where do you live?

          Doesn't matter where. The fact that such rule exists in some stores boggles the mind.

          in nsw i think its only if you look under 16.
          if you are obviously over 16 they wouldnt ask

      Umm I'm not sure if you have any children but toddlers put EVERYTHING in their mouth and it takes literally just seconds for them to so whilst you turn your head, you may not even realise its happened. Even the most careful of adults makes a lapse of judgement sometimes.

      They are also balls, which roll, which end up on the floor hidden away from adult view under things... just at the right height for crawlers to discover. Someone may also have no kids themselves and be completely oblivious to the dangers and have some buckyballs laying around on the floor, and then their mate comes over with their 1 year old. I can see how you can relate this to knives but this is a totally different kettle of fish in my opinion.

      They may be amazing, but they can have all the warnings in the world and still end up in the gut of a child no matter how careful you are. As a non essential item its probably better this toy isn't on the market.

        So do batteries and we don't ban them.

          Exactly, and a million other things children can eat. #nannystate

          Batteries are what I would class as a useful essential, just as knives are. Buckyballs are only a toy and if you can remove the danger without causing inconvenience then I'm all for it (even though I would love a set myself if it weren't for the dangers). I do feel sorry for the company that came up with the idea but they perhaps should have thought about the possible dangers to kids beforehand or researched with a group of 100 parents and see if any of them could identify any potential issues. Sometimes dangers are only obvious to those that may be most in danger or the carers of those people.

          Last edited 28/08/14 10:36 am

            I'm not saying it's not dangerous but we can't go round banning everything. Especially since these magnets aren't even kids toys.
            Have you ever given your child a Kinder Surprise? Did you know they are still to this day banned in the US because they have small parts "in food".
            There is a point at which it becomes ridiculous.

            Should we ban all forms of sports and climbing trees because kids hurt themselves?
            I'm sure plenty of kids eat LEGO too. Don't see that getting banned.

            It's always going to happen. The key is to limit, minimise and monitor the danger/risk.
            It's literally impossible to completely remove risk from anything. People die falling of chairs for example.

              Yep totally agree that its all to do with risk management which is exactly why these toys have been recalled by a panel of professionals that investigate this stuff for a living. There is a point where this kind of thing becomes over the top as you say but I don't think removing this product is it.

              Sure kids eat lego and a bunch of other small part toys, but ones that have potential to very strongly attract to each other and perforate intestines/cut off blood supplies are way more dangerous inside the body. Lets say for instance a child swallows a lego piece, Dr will likely say just wait and the child will poo it out, check back in a few days if they dont. What do you think they will say if a child swallows 2 or more buckyballs?? My guess is they will be on the operating table to have them removed. Even though they may have had no ill effects, because of their potential to seriously damage the intestine the Dr and parents will likely not have much other choice, unless you can monitor the movement of the buckyballs through the gut in realtime for a few days until they pass.

              Its a bit sad that it seems to be the point of view of some of you guys/girls is to place more importance on your enjoyment of a toy than the potential negative effect it may have on your own children or the children of others who may visit your home, especially knowing the dangers. Whether this is because you don't have children yourself Im not sure, but from the position of a father of several young kids recalling buckyballs is a no brainer.

              ... and no I didnt realise Kinder surprise was banned in the US but I haven't given one to an infant/toddler without first breaking it open myself and removing the toy.

              Last edited 28/08/14 1:49 pm

                My daughter almost died from sticking cotton balls in her mouth. Luckily we noticed her having trouble breathing and when we opened her mouth we saw the cotton balls and fished them it out. The moral of the story.. ... Never take your eyes off a baby because they can and do put everything they can in their mouths. It still freaks me out that I could of lost the life of my daughter over something as innocent as cotton balls . Always be vigilant peeps.

                  I think many parents would have similar horror stories to tell, unfortunately its extremely difficult to keep a constant eye on an infant in some situations and therefore you need to do your best to remove dangers from the area beforehand. There's also the situation where older siblings may bring items into the room/bed/cot which are not suitable for infants or even force them into the infants mouth.

                Fontgod, your right. Unfortunately, people without kids are never going to nderstand there's a phase in your life that doesn't revolve around yourself. When that little girl died from swallowing a watch battery I promptly threw out several I had in my study. I agree anything non essential that can kill needs to be heavily scrutinised if not banned.

                Frankly, I would have thought that a piece of Lego, with it's sharp corners, would be FAR more likely to perforate the intestine. On the other hand, that would also make if far less likely to be swallowed - though it would cause more damage on the way down too.

                A single bucky ball should slide right through the system. Two or more, however, might be a problem as they could try to stick to together from adjacent sections of the intestine, and resist being moved along by peristalsis.

                  Yep, its the two or more scenario that is the dangerous one and its not just the fact that they resist being moved along, they actually end up tearing through intestine to get to each other.

        You probably shouldn't buy things that could be dangerous to children, if you can't keep them out of reach of children. Problem solved.

          I agree but its a bit of a simplistic solution that doesn't really work in the real world where even careful people lose very easily misplaced items under couches and benches.

            Well, my solution was not to have those items in the first place, like the governments of the world are forcing upon all the citizen right now, but instead of forcing everyone to "think of the children", perhaps it should just be the parents that stop and think for more than 2 microseconds if they really should buy that widget that may be harmful to their children. If you don't have the items that are dangerous, there's no risk of losing them "under the couch".

            I don't see why your children should restrict what I can buy.

              Probably not going to convince you as to my way of thinking and that's cool as I understand where you are coming from (Im assuming you don't have kids?). Perhaps you are also someone who never has young toddlers in their home and as such I can understand how removing the product feels like you are losing some rights or something, but at some point in the future your situation may change and you may well have crawlers cleaning your floors with their wondersuits, seeing what they can find under your fridge.

              My point is its not just parents who have infants in their homes. People with kids visit people without kids.

                So, because, maybe, someday, sometime, there might be kids somewhere in my house, unsupervised, everyone should be banned from buying things that might be dangerous to them?

                What an utterly selfish view. The world doesn't revolve around your kids. If you can't control them, that's your fault, it's not up to everyone else in the world to adapt to.

                  Well yes, the panel of professionals that decided to take these things off the market pretty much decided that in this particular case, I dont think they come up with things to ban by pulling names out of a hat. Sorry you think its selfish to put kids lives before someone's enjoyment of a toy, perhaps you haven't seen young kids in action before. Anyway, difference of opinion and end of story I think.

                  Last edited 01/09/14 9:00 pm

      They're basically just magnets. That being said... some governments are looking to ban magnets too.
      You don't leave your medication around for kids to eat, so don't leave your magnets around either.

        As a parent you can be careful, but medication gets left out for kids to eat all the time, not always by the parents though. Happened to me recently when a someone left their meds on my young daughter's pillow after sleeping in her bed (the actual tablets, not in the packaging) and then leaving, luckily I found them first. Once again though, medication is an essential, not a novelty toy so there is a big difference.

        Last edited 28/08/14 10:41 am

        A ban on magnets would need to be done VERY carefully. Not only are they found in an enormous number of devices (anything with a speaker or electric motor, for example) but they're trivial to manufacture with little more than a metal rod (such as a nail), a DC power source and a coil of wire.

      Quick serious question, if this was being marketed as a child's toy would you be in favour of a recall?

        Not a recall, just a change of label to who it's marketed to.

          Fair enough, but the reality is no matter who its marketed to these toys have and will likely continue to end up in the gut of kids. Im guessing from your stance you have never lost one of them, but due to their size/qty/shape I'm sure that many owners would have. Labelling may increase awareness but doesn't account for accidental loss.

      @frankly_franky Knives are needed to get by in daily life. Buckyballs aren't. And there's still a shitload of laws about the sale, use, and carrying of knives.

      Also, you could say that about many things. Guns are dangerous to kids, and they're not banned. Cars are dangerous to kids and they're not banned. You're right in that just because there's the potential for harm doesn't mean it should be banned. But what's the trade off? What utility are you getting out of the item in the first place? I don't exactly think you'll suffer much in life without buckyballs.

      Last edited 28/08/14 2:41 pm

    #10 Slap bracelets are still available in Australia.
    eg. http://www.wristbands.com.au/novelty/slap_wristbands.htm or

      Based on his wording in the article, I'm guessing they were merely banned in "some schools". Nowhere else.

      Yeah, I had two ruler style ones from Smiggle a couple years ago, they were a lot of fun :D

    Lisa: Wow, look at all this Be Sharps merchandise. Lunch boxes, coffee mugs, funny foam
    Homer: They took the foam off the market because they found out it was poisonous, but if you ask me, if you're dumb enough to eat it, you deserve to die... BART!
    Bart: (with a mouth full of foam) What?

    Hmmm... Aqua dots, my daughter was given some little fairy toys recently which you assemble and spray with water to glue them together, I wonder if it uses the same ingredients for the glue.

      No, they have changed since then.

      Aqua dots were marketed as Bindeez here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bindeez

      From the Wiki:
      The replacement beads will be manufactured using only approved ingredients. To discourage ingestion, the replacement beads will also be coated with the bitter-tasting substance known as Bitrex. The name of the product was also changed from Bindeez to Beados in an attempt to extinguish the link between the recall of the old toy and the new toy.

        Thanks, these ones weren't beads though, just some actual fairy figurines that you assemble and spray to glue them together.

    This thing wins hands down i think.

      Where can I buy an adult version of this.

    Anyone who wears crocs with socks deserves a rocket to the face.

    This one actually sounded like a hell of a lot of fun if you ask me.


    Cabbage Patch Snacktime Kids dolls - just like in Barbarella! But not as sexy.

    I remember getting a toy from a showbag, it was two balls coated in what i could gather gunpowder and when both balls slam together make a loud bang, some sparks and some smoke, not entirely dangerous but probably wouldn't pass safety tests now days.

    The most dangerous toy i remember having was an inflatable penguin where you punched it, it righted itself, one day i was waving it around my head in the backyard and clocked myself in the back of the head, felt woozy and put my hand up and blood pissing out my head. Little did i know it had a huge chunk of jagged metal on the bottom which i suppose was the counterweight, anyways long story short a trip to ER and 6 or 7 stitches in the head.

      I remember those things! I used to buy them at a gag store called Granny Mays. Those were the sole reason I went to that shop!

      Last edited 28/08/14 4:29 pm

    Used to make number 3 all the time when I was a kid. Coke bottle, hose and a release clamp that you stepped on to release. Was living on acreage at the time and has a bore water system and pump. Much higher pressure than town water, and never had a bottle blow up. They must have been cheap ass plastic to burst from town water, or someone decided to "supe it up" with some dry ice.

    I was expecting to read "open bolt, blowback-operated submachine guns", but unfortunately that is still OK in some places.

    Last edited 29/08/14 12:59 am

    I have a set of Buckyballs somewhere...

    Not sure where they ended up though... I think I may have thrown them away because they got so boring

    Last edited 29/08/14 11:44 am

    Are all slap wristbands like this? I got some for a birthday party in Australia from http://wholesalewristbandsaustralia.com.au/slap-wristbands/ and I'm a bit worried that the children may hurt themselves if they keep using them. :S

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now