Have you ever really considered the types of toys that used to be your favorites? Back in the days before sophisticated video games, toys wowed consumers with their innovative concepts and designs. And most of the best brought with them at least some element of danger. Take the beloved Pogo Ball. Both the old and new generations will remember the fun bouncy toy. Many will remember falling off the dangerous and seriously getting hurt.
For those who don’t know about the Pogo Ball, there are other equally, if not more, dangerous toys that were out in the market back in the heyday. Take the notorious Slip N’ Slide. Who hasn’t slid into a thorn bush or wooden face. Heading down a slippery stretch of plastic and rubber spells danger no matter where you lay the Slip N’ Slide.
Plenty of emergency rooms were practically funded by man-eating Cabbage Patch dolls, exploding hand cannons and red-hot glass-blowing kits for kids. Whether you were hurling your body through the air, blowing things up or hanging from your ankles, you probably had a blast with at least a couple of these 10 dangerous classic toys that should have killed you.
10. Empire Little Lady Stove
Believe it or not, one of the tamest toys of all time, the E-Z Bake Oven, has faced multiple recalls in its 50-plus-year history. If kids are burning their fingers on the classic Hasbro appliance, just think what happened to little girls who woke up Christmas morning to find an Empire Little Lady Stove under the tree. While E-Z Bake cooks cakes and brownies with nothing more than a 100-watt light bulb, the Little Lady Stove heated to temperatures as high as 600 degrees, leading it to be chosen as one of the first eight toys ever to be banned in America in 1968. And besides, is it ever a good idea for young children to be reaching into any stove?
9. Bat Masterson Derringer Belt Gun
The 1950s era toy allowed little cowboys and cowgirls to conceal and carry decades before they’d later register for the real thing. The cap gun was attached to a belt buckle. While the gun was hidden flush with the buckle in a resting position, it could be aimed and fired at unsuspecting outlaws with a mere swing of the hips. While a novel idea, the Bat Masterson Derringer Belt Gun wasn’t exactly safe. After all, anyone whose ever shot caps from a toy gun knows the small, yet real accompanying explosion isn’t necessarily something you want around your crotch. And it certainly didn’t help matters that any sort of friction surrounding the belt buckle could cause the caps to unexpectedly blow.
8. Atomic Energy Lab
It’s really a wonder how some kids made it to adulthood. Back in the ’50s, one of the hottest toys on the market – and one of the more expensive – came complete with its own supply of radioactive material. Yes, you read that correctly. The Gilbert Atomic Energy Lab guided budding scientists through the wonders of atomic energy while exposing them to genuine uranium. After all, what’s a few 10-year-olds with radiation poisoning in the name of science?
7. Kite Tubes
What brainiac thought it would be a good idea to ride on a kite attached to the back of a speedboat? More so, what parents thought it would be fun to send their kids swiftly soaring through the sky above a large body of water? But sure enough, plenty of people climbed aboard a giant raft-turned-parasail and waited for the hysterics to begin. But a problem arose when kids would fly off of the raft while 30 feet in the air, land on anything but water and die. Kind of takes the wind out of your sails when you put it that way, wouldn’t you say?
6. Pogo Balls
The late 1980s fad led to millions of kids gleefully bouncing while breaking ankles. Granted, the Saturn-esque Pogo Ball just looked like hopping good fun with its two balls separated by a flat disk. But just think about it: could it have ever been a good idea to jump around on top of what amounted to little more than two kick balls? The Pogo Ball was not only a danger from above (feet were always slipping from their grip of the ball, leading to turned ankles or worse), but an even greater danger from below (get a bad bounce or land on a patch of gravel and you’ll soon be flying face first toward the ground).
5. Slip N’ Slide
Another classic that provided kids hours of fun in the sun is also a logistical nightmare. After all, what could go wrong when hurling your body face-first down a thin strip of slippery plastic? Lucky kids ended up with bruises and plenty more ended up breaking an arm or busting a lip. But the thrill of the Slip N’ Slide was totally worth it. To this day, adults and children enjoy the Slip N’ Slide.
We shouldn’t necessarily be dead from riding bicycles, but based on the way we rode them we definitely could be. It’s ironic that today’s helicopter parents can likely recall riding with no helmets, no hands, too many people or in unsafe positions. We rode on each others’ handlebars, stood on our seats, weaved around traffic and a whole host of terribly risky biking behaviors. At some point along the way, parents started insisting their kids at least wear helmets, which is probably why deaths among bicyclists aged 20 and younger have declined an astounding 86 percent since 1975.
3. Monkey Bars
Sure, monkey bars and jungle gyms help kids develop strength, flexibility and coordination. But who decided it would be a bright idea to hang upside down over asphalt, gravel and whatever other hard surfaces we would ultimately end up falling face first onto at some point? An Australian study found that 20 percent of all childhood fractures result from accidents involving monkey bars, and half of those required surgery. And only 24 percent of the fractures related to monkey bars resulted from children using them properly. Instead, an astounding majority of the reported fractures resulted when children skipped rungs, sat or stood on the monkey bars. You know, all the fun stuff.
2. Austin Magic Pistol
Not only did 1950s parents not worry about their kids playing with toy guns, but apparently many of them also had no problem with little Billy shooting fireballs at his little sister. The Austin Magic Pistol was a hand canon designed to propel ping pong balls by mixing calcium carbide with water. And when the chemical reaction shot the balls out of the canon, it also created a fiery explosion. If that weren’t disastrous enough, the calcium carbide would also explode if it touched a drop of saliva or sweat. Try buying the vintage toy today and you’ll find it legally sold as a firearm in many states.
Lawn darts are bound to top almost any “most dangerous toys” list, and for good reason. Since it’s always a good idea for groups of rowdy kids to play with sharp objects, the folks behind Jarts thought it would be even better to create giant arrow-like darts that are hurled across the yard like a javelin. It’s not as if that could kill anyone or anything, except it did multiple times. Lawn darts had been banned for years because they’d already injured many children, but because America has a short memory span, certain distributors were able to challenge the ban in court, and soon Jarts were legal again… as long as they weren’t marketed as toys. Sure, because that makes a huge difference to adolescent boys, drunk fraternity brothers or beer-drinking dads. When a 7-year-old girl was killed when a casually-tossed lawn dart soared too far, her father began a crusade to have the ban on Jarts reinstated. In the eight years before the ban was reinstated in 1988, 6,100 emergency-room visits resulted from lawn darts, half of the injuries belonged to children 10 and younger, including one coma and three deaths. So if you remember having a blast launching Jarts around the yard, you’re lucky it didn’t kill you.