The classic toys of your childhood — or your parents’ childhood — are suspended in a halcyon glow. Simpler. More entertaining. And far better than today’s offerings. Unless, that is, these classic toys become deadly. In 2012, an estimated 265,000 children were treated for toy-related injuries in emergency rooms [source: Consumer Product Safety Commission]. This doesn’t even include the number of adults who were injured after playing with toys not meant to accommodate their size and weight. In a few cases, toys have even caused death.
Once upon a time, lawn darts was a game in which players threw steel-tipped foot-long darts at plastic circles up to 35 feet (11 meters) away. Although the backyard game’s cheerful packaging showed the whole family merrily playing, it would have been more accurate to show little Jimmie with a bandage wrapped around his head. Turns out, the force of a thrown lawn dart was an estimated 23,000 pounds of pressure per inch, more than enough to pierce a skull. In the 1970s, lawn darts were supposed to be marketed to adults only, but few stores complied. After hundreds of reports of injuries — and three deaths — the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a U.S. federal agency, banned sales of lawn darts in 1988 .The lawn darts you can buy in stores today don’t have steel tips, but feature the presumably safer rounded plastic ends with weights
Since Wham-O first marketed it to consumers in 1961, more than 30 million Slip ‘N Slide toys have been sold. A Slip ‘N Slide is a 16-foot (5-meter) sheet of plastic with an inflatable “stop” at one end. There are small holes running the length of the sides, so that when a garden hose is attached, water spouts through the holes, making the plastic slick. The player slides down the wet sheet on her stomach, enjoying hours of cool fun on a hot day. But the fun is meant for kids only. In 1993, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a warning about Slip ‘N Slide use by teenagers and adults. Turns out, the slide wasn’t long enough to accommodate their size and weight. The abrupt stop at the end, in some cases, resulted in permanent spinal damage. At the time of the warning, one teenager and seven adults had become paralyzed or received neck injuries after playing on the slides . The Slip ‘N Slide was taken off the market, but it reappeared in the 2000s, with a prominent warning on the box to indicate it is for ages 5 to 12.
Austin Magic Pistol -This is a perfect example of how toy safety has changed over the years. An actual hand cannon somehow made it onto the store shelves and was sold to kids in the late 1940s. This toy included a supply of calcium carbide which would explode when mixed with water. It fired ping pong balls out of the gun at high speeds, which would create a dangerous fire ball in the process of burning children’s hands.
Splash Water Rockets, in the late 1990s a company made a toy rocket that could explode. The Splash Water Rockets used water pressure from a hose to build up energy until kids would stomp on the launcher and send the rockets flying, but sadly, at least 38 cases were reported of the rocket exploding from the pressure or otherwise flying off in unpredictable directions. This caused lacerations to children’s hands and face.
Snap Bracelets, In case you haven’t seen these before, Snap Bracelets are spring loaded metal bands wrapped in colorful designed plastic or cloth. They can be straightened out until rigid and then slapped against the wrist causing the bracelet to curl back into place. Unfortunately it didn’t take much for the more cheaply made versions of the toy to start causing major problems. They would slice into children’s tender flesh when the metal band wore through its covering, with some schools even banning the bracelets.
Magnetix building sets featured plastic pieces that could break open, spilling small, powerful magnets that were easily swallowed by curious toddlers. Unlike most small objects swallowed in this manner, the magnets don’t pass through the digestive system. Instead they connect with each other through tissue walls, sometimes forming large masses that twist intestines and cut off blood supply to vital organs. The result can be a painful death within hours. In 2005, when 22-month old Kenny Sweet died after 9 tiny magnets reattached inside his bowels, Magnetix manufacturer Mega Bloks released a statement saying it had “no record or knowledge of a similar occurrence involving this toy.” In fact, the company had received several complaints of magnets falling out of the plastic pieces and knew of at least one case in which a 10-year-old had suffered life-threatening intestinal injuries. Three million Magnetix sets sat on store shelves for four months after Kenny Sweet’s death. When they were finally recalled in 2006, at least 34 more children were known to have been injured. Mega Bloks rebranded the toy MagNext in 2008.
The Cabbage Patch dolls were the must-have toy of their time, sparking department store fights and pulling in billions of dollars in sales. The Snacktime edition pulled in more than just money however, as its mechanical jaws tried to consume the fingers and hair of inquisitive and unlucky children. The Snacktime’s mechanism was a one-way battery-powered roller with no off switch. It was supposed to be activated by the accompanying snacks, but the little tykes made no distinction between “food” and fingers. The dolls were eventually pulled from the shelves… after the Christmas season.
This is a combination of etching and branding. Wood burning is also known by its more hard core name of pyrography. It is the technique of using a hot hand held iron to burn designs into a plank of wood. Usually an electric iron plugged into the wall makes more of a hobby for a trained adult than a younger crowd. However, this did not stop wood burning kits from being sold to children not only in the past, but in the present as well. For just $141 Canadian or $24 American, parents can buy this dangerous toy for their young child. The product description notes that leather gloves, which the manufacturer recommends, should be worn while using the kit although they are actually sold separately.