Do You Remember These Fun And Potentially Deadly Toys From The Past?
Ah, the good old days. It’s hilarious to look back at a time when kids played with carbon cannons and handled small doses of uranium. Did you play with any of these lethal toys? If so, you had an awesome childhood.
First up on our list of retro toys that could have killed us are Clackers. These seemingly harmless toys were a huge hit in the 1960s and 70s. The concept was simple: two acrylic balls were attached to a weighted string. The goal was to swing the balls fast and hard, slamming them into each other.
There was just one problem. The acrylic balls often shattered on impact, turning the toy into a projectile and sending shrapnel flying into the air. According to the Banned Toy Museum, Clackers were banned in 1985 for posing a potential blindness hazard in children.
2 Super Elastic Bubble Plastic
WHAM-O sold the Super Elastic Bubble Plastic Balloon Blowing Kit in the 1970s. Kids had so much fun blowing the mixture through a tube to create a plastic ball. Let’s not forget the enticing packaging that made this novelty look like the best toy ever. It wasn’t all fun and games, though.
Canada banned these kits because the substance was made from polyvinyl acetate dissolved in acetone, which according to The Red Planet Group, exposed children to “inhaling the vapors of any solvents present”. Risks included hallucinations, dizziness, and involuntary movements. So kids were getting high while they blew up the ball.
3 Lawn Darts
Backyard game enthusiasts in the 1980s loved to play with lawn darts, better known as Jarts. The concept sounded so innocent. Players threw darts at a plastic circle, sending the steel skewer flying, and puncturing the grass. Unfortunately, the toy ended up being a lethal weapon.
Popular Mechanics reported that the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission banned Jarts in 1988, urging parents to “discard or destroy the darts immediately.” The ban came after Jarts injured several kids and took the lives of three children. This is one case where a vintage toy really was deadly.
4 Metal Playgrounds
So this next item isn’t officially a toy but metal playground equipment played such a huge part in the lives of kids from decades past that it had to be included on this list. Recess was a free-for-all for children in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. The sun would beat down on the metal slide and burn their butts when they slid down it.
Not only that, but the climbing structures were potential deathtraps. Children had no business climbing to such extreme heights with no safety precautions. Chances are if they fell, they landed on asphalt. These playgrounds would strike fear in today’s helicopter parents.
5 Swing Bike
If you were a kid in the 1970s, then you probably had a bike with a banana seat. Were you cool enough to have a Swing Bike, though? They made these bad boys for daredevils who liked to pop a wheelie and show off their skills for the kids in the neighborhood.
Swing Bikes were special because they had two axels, one for the front wheel and another for the back. This meant that a rider could pull a pin and spin both ends of the bike. We can’t help but envision the epic wipeouts and injuries kids sustained on Swing Bikes.
6 Austin Magic Pistol
Children in the 1950s loved to play with toy guns. The Austin Magic Pistol was a ray-gun that stood out from the rest. Not only did it look like something out of Buck Rogers but it propelled ping-pong balls by using exploding gas. Sounds super safe, right?
According to Worthpoint, this pistol was a glorified carbon cannon. The gas was produced by mixing “magic white crystals” with water at the back of the gun. A pull of trigger ignited a spark, propelling the balls over 100 feet. This gun would terrify today’s parents.
7 Six Finger
There were some weird toys in the 1960s and Six Finger has got to be one the strangest. Topper Toys produced this dangerous contraption that had a variety of risky functions. We can’t help but wonder who thought it would be safe for a child to shoot a cap bomb off the tip of their finger?
This toy also shot a secret bullet, a message missile, and a fragmented bomb. Nothing says fun like shooting projectile weapons at your friends. In their defense, the Six Finger also had a ballpoint pen function, which was quite a practical addition for a kid.
8 Easy-Bake Oven
The Easy-Bake Oven prepared little girls to be homemakers by allowing them to bake cakes and cookies in their very own oven. There was just one detail that the toy developer didn’t think through. The light bulb heating element could reach 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
The CPSC recalled the Easy-Bake Oven in 2007 citing that children could “insert their hands into the oven’s opening and get their hands or fingers caught, posing an entrapment and burn hazard.” It’s since been redesigned and is currently available for children who want to bake goodies and possibly burn themselves.
9 Water Wiggle
The Water Wiggle was advertised as being “Cool Splashing Fun” and was a popular summer toy in the 1970s. The toy had a plastic hose attached to a water jet nozzle. Once the water turned on, a demonic-looking face whipped around and threatened everyone in its path.
Sadly, the Water Wiggle killed two children in separate incidents when the lid shot off and the water nozzle lodged in their throats. The CPSC pulled the toy off store shelves in 1978. It will forever go down in backyard infamy for terrorizing young children.
Before 3D printers, kids in the 1960s could make their own toys with the Mattel’s Vac-U-Form. This contraption came with several sheets of colored plastic that were inserted into the machine onto a metal holder over a heat plate. The hot plastic vacuum-sealed around a mold to create all kinds of awesome toys.
The Vac-U-Form proved to be dangerous because children burned themselves on the heating element. There’s no telling how many kids scorched their fingers on this toy, but it might have been worth it to make a cool race car. It was eventually discontinued but can still be found for sale on eBay.
Who doesn’t love the thrill of gliding down a Slip-N-Slide? This backyard toy has been a summer favorite since WHAM-O first introduced it in 1961. Kids of every generation have thrown themselves on their bellies to soar across the plastic water slide. Yet, it’s another toy that could destroy your life.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a warning that the Slip-N-Slide is dangerous for teenagers and adults because of their weight and height. “The slider’s forward momentum drives the body into the neck and compresses the spinal cord,” the CPSC website states. Sorry, mom and dad! No Slip-N-Slide fun for you.
12 Atomic Energy Lab
The award for the most absurdly dangerous toy from the 1950s goes to the U-238 Atomic Energy Lab. The A.C. Gilbert Company manufactured this lab kit which included radiation sources, uranium ores, and a cloud chamber so children could watch alpha particles glow.
According to the Science History Institute, the toy was removed from the shelves but the Gilbert Company continued to assure parents that “the tiny bit of radioactive material included with each set was essentially harmless.” Sure. Allowing kids to play with uranium sounds super safe. Is anyone shocked that they discontinued this crazy toy?
13 Swack Game
The Swack Game is further proof that parents in the 1970s didn’t put their kid’s safety on the top of their list. The object of the game was to snatch as many pieces of cheese as you could before a spring-loaded mousetrap smacked your fingers.
This is one of those board games that sounded good in theory but had the potential to cut off a child’s finger. We can only imagine the bumps and bruises that this violent game produced. Nothing sounds more fun than the threat of having your hand smacked by a fast-moving bar.
14 Power Mite Tools
Some things never change when it comes to little boys and the toys they like to play with. These days, guys love to play with toy power tools, just as they did in the 1960s. One thing that has changed is safety standards. Power Mite Tools were miniaturized functional power tools made for kids.
You read that right. Parents gave boys power drills, sanders, and even a power saw that featured sharp blades. Somehow the fact that these tools were smaller than adult power tools made them safer for children. That sounds like solid logic to us. What could go wrong?
15 Creepy Crawlers
The Creepy Crawlers’ Thingmaker is another vintage toy that makes us wonder how children in the 1960s stayed alive. Mattel advertised this toy as allowing children to mold “creepy crawlers in soft, non-toxic plastic.”
There were just a few potential problems with this toy. For starters, it came with many chemicals that emitted dangerous fumes. Then there was the little problem of children burning themselves on the heating element and metal molding trays. Why did parents not worry about their kids getting burned those days? Was this not a serious concern?
16 Snack Time Cabbage Patch Kid
Cabbage Patch Kids were in high demand in the 1980s. Parents stood in long lines at stores and fought over this toy. It was the hottest gift and practically every little girl got one for Christmas during that decade. Fast forward to the 90s and kids were introduced to the Snacktime Cabbage Patch Kid.
This doll featured a mechanical mouth that moved up and down to eat plastic food. Unfortunately, it also attempted to eat human fingers and hair. According to the New York Times, they offered a $40 refund to disappointed children who had to return the hair-eating doll.
17 Moon Shoes
Moon Shoes were popular in the 1980s but they started out in the 1950s as Satellite Jumping Shoes. These dangerous contraptions were made of metal and exposed springs that strapped on over a kid’s shoes. The idea was that they would bounce like tiny trampolines on their feet.
These looked like some sort of torture device for clowns. They were also extremely risky as kids twisted their ankles attempting to catch air. Thank goodness they improved upon them in the 80s, making them out plastic materials and covering the inner workings. Although, that still didn’t stop little ones from injuring themselves.
18 The Roller Racer
The Roller Racer was the favorite toy of almost every kid in the 1980s. It was basically a plastic seat attached to four wheels and a handlebar. Children would shoot down the street at top speeds on this thing and more often than not, they’d run over their fingers. Ouch!
It was also a nightmare for parents because the rider sat low to the ground, which made it hard for approaching cars to see a kid whizzing by. Despite the potential danger, the Roller Racer was so much fun and worth every injured finger. It really was a recipe for disaster, though.
19 Pogo Ball
Hasbro manufactured the Pogo Ball in 1987 and challenged kids to balance on a bouncy ball attached to a platform. It was obviously inspired by the Pogo Stick but toy makers made the concept even more dangerous by removing the handlebars and stick, leaving the bouncer at the mercy of their balance.
This meant that kids had nothing to keep them upright as they jumped and they often collided with the ground. The Pogo Ball was responsible for plenty of skinned knees. Which any kid from that era will tell you was a small price to pay to catch some sweet air.
Another outdoor toy that proved kids were tougher back in the day was the Skip-It. This was popular in the 1990s and was a toy that attached to a kid’s ankle via a plastic hoop with a ball affixed to a stick that rotated as they skipped over it.
This contraption was a face plant waiting to happen. It was all too easy to get tripped up on this thing and we can tell you from experience that it hurt pretty bad when that ball smacked you in the leg mid-rotation. The Skip-It didn’t win any safety awards, that’s for sure.