Fun and games aren’t always fun and games — especially not if a kid gets ahold of the wrong toy. These 13 dolls, figures and role-play items, through bad manufacturing, oversight, and sometimes just plain incompetence, have hurt children in real life, and sometimes even killed them. Parental guidance suggested!
1) Battlestar Galactica Colonial Viper
Ever wondered why every toy with a piece smaller than a baseball has a choking warning on the package? Thank this Mattel vehicle from the original Battlestar Galactica TV show. The Viper had a firing missile, a standard special feature of the time, but which a 4-year-old very unfortunately shot in his mouth and choked to death in 1978. The Viper was recalled, Mattel was sued, and toy packages gained the choking hazard warning forever.
2) CSI: Fingerprint Examination Kit and CSI: Investigation Forensics Lab Kit
It may seem like dangerous toys are things of the past, but this 2007 science kit based on the hit murder/crime/drama show that kids probably shouldn’t be watching proves otherwise. As stated the kit allows kids to dust for fingerprints; the problem is that the powder used to dust for said fingerprints was chock full of asbestos. The Environmental Working Group reported that the powder contained up to 7% of tremolite, one of the most dangerous forms of asbestos, and more than enough to cause cancer later in life.
3) Bird of Paradise Slingshot
One of the earliest toys that the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommend be banned in 1969, this slingshot fired missiles that were “razor-sharp,” according to the Wall Street Journal. A slingshot that fired razors seems obviously problematic, but prior to the CPSC only toys made out of dangerous substances were considered dangerous.
4) Sky Dancers
It’s easy to understand the popularity of Sky Dancers. They were figures of faeries with soft foam wings; when they were attached to a hand-held base and a ripcord was pulled, the faeries would shoot into the air and twirl back to the ground. What’s harder to understand is how it took six years for them to get recalled. See, when the cord was pulled, the Sky Dancers would rocket randomly from the base at great velocity, and while they may have twirled to the ground, they didn’t float gently — they dropped, and then it became a game of “dodge the Sky Dancing Kamikaze.” As the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported in 2000, when the Sky Dancers were finally recalled, “Galoob has received 170 reports of the dolls striking children and adults resulting in 150 reports of injuries. They include eye injuries, including scratched corneas and incidents of temporary blindness, broken teeth, a mild concussion, a broken rib, and facial lacerations that required stitches.”
5) Super Blast Balls
Two balls. Smash them together, and boom — you get a loud, cap-like noise and a few sparks. That’s it. That’s the whole toy. It’s amazing no one figured out a toy that was effectively “lets have children set off caps in their little hands” was going to be dangerous before they were mass produced, but after the first few injuries and fires the CPSC came to its senses and went ahead and banned them.
6) Creepy Crawlers
People often give the Easy-Bake Oven a hard time, basically because it had a lightbulb inside to heat and bake food, and it could get up to 350 degrees — certainly enough for kids to burn themselves if they weren’t paying attention. But the Easy-Bake Oven was a beacon of safety compared to the original electric Creepy Crawlers oven of the ’60s, which 1) got even hotter than the Easy Bake Oven, 2) produced not hot food but burning hot liquid plastic, which 3) was actually quite toxic. God knows how many kids burned and scarred themselves (or, more likely, their younger siblings) but because it was the ’60s, adults decided the Creepy Crawlers sets weren’t dangerous as much as they were “learning experiences.”
7) Empire Little Lady Stove
In the same theme, while the Easy-Bake Oven had its problems — and Hasbro was forced to recall the toy in 2007 after a girl was forced to have her finger partially amputated after burning it in the oven’s bulb — it was made of room-temperature Nerf compared to the Empire Little Lady Stove. This electric kids’ stove from the ’60s reached temperatures of 600 degrees — most real ovens now automatically shut off when they reach 550! What could a child possibly want to cook that would need 600 degrees of heat?!
8) Bat Masterson Derringer Belt Gun
This popular weapon of the ’50s was the James Bond-iest device a cowboy could have. The gun was hidden in the belt buckle, and when a kid stuck out his tummy, the gun would swing out and fire on unsuspecting outlaws. Now, the gun fired small pellts, but that wasn’t the problem; the problem was that it was also a cap gun for that realistic gun-firing experience. I shouldn’t have to tell you the dangers of firing caps right next to your crotch, but suffice it to say any friction could accidentally set the caps off, so even just wearing it was as dangerous as any high noon stand-off.
9) Zulu Blow Gun
Any small toy can be dangerous if it’s swallowed by someone young enough, and I’ve tried to keep from flooding this list with items that were banned after a toddler accidentally — although willingly — ate them. But the classic Zulu Blow Gun toy was different in that it was a tube whose entire play feature was making kids stick tubes containing very small, choke-inducing darts into their mouths. That’s just asking for trouble.
10) Moon Shoes
Mini-trampolines for your feet? What could go wrong? A lot, actually. One errant jump in the Moon Shoes could easily lead to a broken ankle. More impressively, the Moon Shoes of the 1970s were made of many, many sharp pieces of metal, meaning kids were essentially wearing mini-trampolines made out of bear traps on their feet.
11) Sky Rangers Park Flyer Radio-Controlled Aeroplane
This 2007 remote-controlled aeroplane had a bad habit of, uh… blowing up. Seriously. Even more unfortunately, the planes were launched by hand, so when the planes blew up they often blew up next to kids’ heads. They were unsurprisingly recalled.
12) Snacktime Cabbage Patch Kid
Many toy companies have held the Cabbage Patch Kids doll licence over the years. In 1996 Mattel had the honour, and released the Snacktime CPK for the holiday season, a special doll that would “eat” “snacks” inserted into the doll’s mouth thanks to a series of motorised metal roller. While the dolls soft, fleshy lips were already kind of disturbing on their own, the bigger issue is that the Snacktime Cabbage Patch Kid couldn’t differentiate between the plastic snacks it was supposed to eat and, say, an actual child’s fingers. In January of 1997, Mattel voluntarily recalled the dolls after several incidents of the Snacktime Cabbage Patch Kids snacking on their human playmates.
13) Lawn Darts
Also known as Jarts, Lawn Darts are possibly the most famous toys to be banned, and justly so. It’s been determined they were responsible for sending over 6000 people to the hospital for injuries, most of them kids, many of them disabled for life. And this was after the Jarts manufacturer had skirted a previous ban by putting a “game for adults only” warning on their packaging, because of course kids were going to play with them — and they were still sold in kids’ toys stores, too. By the end, Jarts had killed three children and one 11-year-old girl put into a coma.