There are huge varieties of different toys available to buy worldwide, from board games, dolls, cars and remote controlled devices. They are meant to provide fun and entertainment to children, so that they can enjoy themselves and play while growing up. The vast majority of toys that parents can buy are perfectly safe and are able to provide hours of fun.
However, due to the fact that children are not aware of all the dangers that can be posed by different materials and objects, it is important for manufacturers to take every precaution to ensure that none of their products can cause harm to the young in normal use. If children can accidentally swallow small parts or the toy can be dangerous when used, this can pose a risk of a child being harmed. The use of hazardous and toxic material can also mean that a child might suffer from adverse health effects if they accidentally ingest any of the material.
If manufacturers do not properly test their toys or ignore possible problems, then toys can reach the market that can be incredibly dangerous. Sometimes, as in the case of many older toys, the dangers involved may not have been fully understood. In others, toy makers may not have been able to foresee potential issues or in some cases, a toy might just have been ill-conceived. Whatever the case, there have been a number of truly shocking toys that have gone on sale that have proved to be dangerous. This article explores some of the worst offenders.
12. Lawn Darts
Lawn Darts, also known as Jarts, is an outside toy game that involved children throwing large darts at a selected target. While similar toys still exist today, they have taken the added precaution of using plastic tips that cannot harm without being thrown with exceptional force. These older Lawn Darts though, had no such protection. Instead, they were steel-tipped which made them not only heavier but also far sharper.
Obviously these turned out to be incredibly dangerous. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that the toys may have been responsible for more than 6,000 injuries during the years they were on sale. Tragically, they were also responsible for the death of a small child in the 1970s, leading to their banning in the United States and Canada.
Bindeez, also known as Aqua Dots, is an award winning toy that lets children craft patterns and shapes suing a number of colored beads. Although the toy was initially supposed to have a non-toxic chemical included in its ingredients, a mistake led to another chemical being used that is most commonly used as a date rape drug due to its anaesthetic effect. Children who ingested the beads suffered from bouts of unconsciousness and seizure symptoms, with several needing hospital treatment.
This has led to the product being recalled in a number of different countries, including Australia, the United States and several nations in Europe, although the company behind the toy has since reissued it with approved ingredients.
10. Slip ‘n Slide
The Slip ‘n Slide is one of the most famous of all toys. Children have long been using the toy to have fun outdoors by sliding down the wet plastic. When used by small children, the toy is usually perfectly safe and will not pose much of a risk, however when used by older children or adults, the Slip ‘n Slide has been known to be far more dangerous.
The weight of anyone over the age of 12 is enough to make the toy turn into a health hazard. The plastic sheet is not long enough to allow a person over that age to slow down effectively, while their weight can lead to them failing to slide completely. This led to a prominent warning on the toy from the year 2000 onwards, after reports of serious injuries that included spinal and neck sprains and even paralysis.
9. Aqua Leisure Inflatable Baby Boats
The Aqua Leisure Inflatable Baby Boats were a range of blow-up swimming aids that were meant to hold babies in an upright position and ensure that they float in water. Parents could place their baby in the device much like a highchair, so that they were safe in the water. The only problem was that the leg strap that prevents the baby from falling into the water was prone to snapping or tearing off completely, leaving parents having to save a number of young children from drowning.
What made matters worse was the fact that Aqua-Leisure was apparently aware of the defect but did not inform the authorities or issue a recall of the entire range, even after receiving 24 complaints from customers who had experienced the problem. For this, they were fined $650,000 in 2009.
8. CSI Fingerprint Examination Kit
The CSI Fingerprint Examination kit is a 2007 toy, based on the popular crime series CSI. It contains books, tools and materials based on the science of detecting and showing fingerprints in crime scenes. The danger came when the white powder included in the toy was found to contain asbestos, a material that can cause serious respiratory illness and cancer.
Tests carried out by Public Justice and the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization showed that in some cases, the powder could be made up of around 5% asbestos, including tremolite, that both organizations state is one of the most deadly forms of the hazardous material.
7. Zulu Blow Gun
The Zulu Blow Gun rose in popularity during the late 1960s, after spending a number of years on store shelves. Much like a peashooter, the blow gun required children to fire plastic darts at targets or other people by blowing into the tube. It’s plain to see that this isn’t a good idea and could pose a risk of danger. Children operating the toys would often replace the plastic darts with other more dangerous items, while in other cases they would inhale before blowing and suck in the small darts, swallowing them.
Following a large number of hospital visits, the National Commission on Product Safety campaigned to have the toy and several others banned from sale. At the time, the government body only had the power to prevent toys that were made of toxic material from going on sale, so they had to get the law changed before a ban could be placed.
6. Sky Dancers
Sky Dancers are a range of toys aimed at young children that first released in 1994. They featured princess-like figures that rested on a pedestal that could be fired into the air, thanks to a zip-powered mechanic. While these types of toys are common around the world and generally harmless, the Sky Dancers were particularly dangerous for several reasons.
Firstly, because of the fact that they are larger than traditional toys that feature the same mechanic, and they are able to deliver a much higher force to anything they hit. Secondly, they were very unstable in the air which made it impossible to aim them in a safe place. This led to a number of injuries, with notable examples being scratched corneas, broken teeth, broken bones, facial lacerations, concussions and temporary blindness, in both adults and children.
Magnetix is a toy that encourages children to construct structures and other things, with plastic building pieces that contain small magnets. However, the magnets were prone to separating from the toys when played with. The main problem with that was that because of the small size of the magnets, they could be easily swallowed by small children or accidentally ingested. Due to their powerful force, they would then attract any other swallowed magnets or metallic objects, and the moving parts in the intestines or gut could potentially cause serious damage to tissue.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Magnetix was directly involved in the death of a 22-month-old child, an aspiration and 27 intestinal injuries with surgery needed to remove the magnets in almost every single incident.
4. Sky Rangers Radio Controlled Airplanes
Unlike other flying toys that are often recalled or banned because of their instability in the air, meaning that they can cause damage to property or harm people by crashing into them, the Sky Rangers suffered from another problem entirely. The company began to recall models in 2007, after receiving more than 50 reports of the toys spontaneously exploding while being used.
Having a children’s toy that can explode at any time is never a good thing and the recall was definitely justified. Injuries caused by the explosions included temporary blindness and deafness, impact wounds from fast moving debris, burns to the face and hands, and even damage to the eyeballs of several users.
3. Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy
Created by Alfred Carlton Gilbert, the Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab was marketed as a way for children to learn about nuclear power and see how the physics and chemistry worked. The sets were first released in the 1950s and contained numerous examples of nuclear material that gave off radiation.
While the effects of radiation were less understood at the time, it is still hard to believe that such material would be included in a product designed for children. While most of the samples were not particularly dangerous, if ingested or placed in the mouth they could potentially have had very adverse health effects. After only a year on sale, the kit was withdrawn in 1951, not for safety concerns though, but rather because of the poor sales of the toy.
2. Cabbage Patch Kids
Cabbage Patch Kids first released in 1978. The product of art student Xavier Roberts, the dolls have become one of the most popular toys of all time, with the brand being one of the most recognizable and longest running in history. While most were harmless, being dolls with no moving parts, one particular line did pose a danger to children using them.
The Cabbage Patch Kids “Snacktime Kids” had a mechanism that simulated the eating of food. The doll had no on/off switch though, and children could activate the motorized mouth by placing any object in it. This meant that children’s fingers and hair often became trapped, in some cases causing lasting damage. The company eventually withdrew the line following complaints from parents and consumer bodies.
1. Austin Magic Pistol
Children often want to play with toy guns and this has led to a market that is flooded with various types of pretend weapons. The majority of them will either fire soft projectiles that can cause no harm or simply imitate the sound of a firing gun, so they pose no real risk.
That wasn’t the case with the Austin Magic Pistol, though. Released near the end of the 1940s, this gun fired ping pong-like balls. Unfortunately, the method of firing involved a chemical explosion using calcium carbide, that reacts violently with water. This not only launched the balls at a fast enough speed to cause damage to anyone hit, the chemical reaction also often set them on fire.