If you’re looking for some nostalgia, you came to the right place. Nowadays, kids play with apps and electronics, but there was a time when the only thing kids wanted was a trip to the toy store! We would run through the aisles of Toys R’ Us and had so many options! There were building blocks, Barbie dolls, water guns, and so much more! The best part was, our generation played outside, so we came home bruised up and scraped all the time.
Although a few cuts were harmless, some toys are actually extremely dangerous. It’s easy to assume that children’s toys need to be tested and approved before hitting the market, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Many of the toys that we enjoyed as kids were actually hazardous, caused numerous injuries and even untimely deaths. Most of these products have been recalled, banned, regulated, or redesigned. However, some of them are still available.
Here are some of the most dangerous childhood toys.
This toy was like a hula hoop for your head! You’re supposed to move your head, neck, and body in a circular motion, and the hula hoop on your hat spins around. The toy was introduced to the world in 1965 and it was created by Transogram Games. I don’t know how anyone thought this would be a good idea.
Swinging your head in such a motion can actually cause irreparable damage to the spine and neck. This is obviously more dangerous when it comes to children. The toy was released way back in the 60s, but was ultimately taken off of the shelves. I guess it didn’t take long for people to realize that the Swing Wing was not a safe toy.
Lawn of Darts (or Jarts)
Back in the 1950s, Lawn Darts were far from being an original idea. The concept of lawn darts can actually be traced back all the way to ancient Greek and Roman times. During that time, however, they were used more as war weapons, not toys. These weapons were called Plumbatas. Even though they stemmed from a deathly weapon, Lawn Darts were meant to be enjoyable for all ages.
Unfortunately, these toys turned out to be just as deadly as its predecessor. This is serious. Between 1978 and 1986, approximately 61,000 people were treated in emergency rooms because of Lawn Dart injuries. And all of them involved children. It’s not surprising that parents wanted this “toy” banned.
Super Elastic Bubble Plastic
The chemical smells coming out of Super Elastic Bubble Plastic really takes me back to childhood. This is one I definitely remember. The toy was basically a plastic tube filled with a plastic substance, and it comes with a thin straw. Kids squeezed out some of the plastic and rolled in into a tiny ball. Then they put it on one end of the straw and use the other side to blow out bubbles.
The Super Elastic Bubble Plastic came in every birthday party’s goody bag. We all had one at some point or another. Well, it turns out that this toy has pretty harmful side effects. Stay away from bubble plastic! You will save some brain cells and save the planet.
Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Laboratory
At some point, every kid imagined what it would be like to be a mad scientist! Mixing different chemicals together in a secret lab. Or maybe that was just me… Anyway, in the 1950s, this idea seemed possible with the Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Laboratory. This toy is exactly what you imagine right now, plus, it includes real radioactive material.
Inventor, A.C. Gilbert, took advantage of the nuclear age and wanted to show families the importance of nuclear energy. That’s when he came up with the idea of the atomic lab. The set came with Uranium-bearing ores and an electroscope to measure radioactivity. This expensive toy was sold for $49 (which is $300 today). Luckily, you won’t be able to purchase this toy today.
I can’t believe that this was actually a thing. Who approved this? This is a very clear lawsuit waiting to happen. This dangerous toy is exactly what it sounds like. The pivot in the frame allows the front half of the bike to swing back and forth. The genius who came up with this idea was Ralph Belden.
The bikes were on the market in 1975, but they disappeared by 1978. According to the Los Angeles Times, the reason the bikes were discontinued was because of “bicycle safety consciousness.” Basically, parents were terrified of their children riding these things! To be honest, I’m surprised it took as long as it did to stop selling the Swing Bike.
Back in the day, playgrounds were a fun place for children everywhere. Kids would just run around, get dirty, and explore while their parents were socializing. Even though playgrounds were a safe haven for kids, they weren’t always safe. A lot of these playground toys were made out of metal! These flesh burning toys were often rusty but used for merry-go-rounds, jungle-gyms, and even slides!
The most hazardous part of the medal playground toys was how hot their surfaces get in the summer. Plus, if someone falls, there isn’t much of a cushion, which leads to a substantial amount of injuries. Even today, over 200,000 kids are treated for playground-related accidents. The most common are broken bones, head wounds, and strangulation. Yikes!
Do you remember clackers? This interesting toy is two balls hanging on two strings, attached to a stick. These things would drive parents nuts with the constant ‘clack, clack, clack’ sound. This idea was inspired by the South American bolas but designed as a kid’s toy. It was one of the most entertaining and irritating toys ever invented.
In the 1970s, Clacker-related injuries came into play. You’re probably wondering what kind of injuries. Well, it was reported that if they were hit hard enough, the Clackers exploded and out came acrylic shrapnel. The toy was ultimately banned in the mid-’80s, but kids weren’t very happy about it. Clackers remained one of the most popular toys of the decade. RIP Clackers.
Snack Time Cabbage Patch Doll
Everyone recognizes the potato-faced dolls that won over the hearts of America. Cabbage Patch Dolls were unique compared to regular baby dolls; and offered something special. Each one came with a birth certificate. Kids everywhere wanted to adopt a doll, and the appeal was huge. Many kids looked at their Cabbage Patch Dolls as part of their family.
Unfortunately, some of these Cabbage Patch Dolls were sent back to the patch. The Snack Time Cabbage Patch Doll allowed kids to feed their dolls. This seems like a fun idea, but it was not as safe as it seems. Not long after the doll was introduced, it was reported that fingers and hair would get caught in their mouths. This only caused minor injuries, but they still recalled the doll.
10 Candy Cigarettes
Okay, if we’re going to get technical, there is nothing necessarily “dangerous” about candy cigarettes. What is dangerous, however, is the concept of candy cigarettes. If you ever had these things, they tasted like chalk. Nobody really liked the taste, but yet, it was the most appealing candy for young kids. There is a strange connotation between smoking and being “cool.”
Maybe the reason so many kids gravitated towards the candy cigarette is because, when they puff it, it blew out powdered sugar that looked like smoke. Fortunately, most of us realized that smoking is harmful and not as cool as it’s cracked up to be. Younger generations have become more health conscientious, and obviously, smoking isn’t good for you. Plus, have you seen how expensive cigarettes are now?
If you’re a 90’s kid like me, Sky Dancers still have a place in your heart, or at least in your memories. When Sky dancers were introduced, they were intended to help make a generation of young girls believe in magic and fairies. Unfortunately, these toys weren’t as fun as they looked in the commercials. They actually turned out to be a huge pain.
They were released in 1996, and it wasn’t long before injuries were being reported. Even though Sky Dancers were made from Styrofoam, they were heavy. Many little girls (including myself) would get their hair tangled in the spinner. Plus, if you get too close, it could poke you in the eye! The injuries were pretty minor, but Sky Dancers should only be played with outside.
What sounds more relaxing than a hammock held up by two palm trees? Well, it only makes sense that if adults enjoy hammocks, so would babies! Sadly, the baby hammock turned out to be more of a threat than anything else. Even the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC) stated that baby hammocks are considered unstable.
Unfortunately, it caused newborn babies to roll and get tangled in the hammock’s fabric and padding, which can lead to suffocation. This dangerous flaw in the hammock was a huge red flag. Since infants were in potential danger, five hundred units were immediately recalled. The USCPSC told parents to find something to replace their baby hammock with. They shouldn’t ever be used.
Slip ‘n Slide
The Slip ‘n Slide was an essential part of every child’s summer vacation. It was invented in the 1960s by Robert D. Carrier. This plastic tarp ultimately became one of the most sensational toys of the century. Siding across those things was definitely fun, but everyone got hurt. I mean, the plastic was so thin, if there was a rock or anything hard under there, your jumping on it full force.
The toy company, Wham-O sold 300,000 slip and slides in the first six months. By the toy’s 50th anniversary, over 30 million were sold! Although the Slip ‘n Slide can clearly cause minor injuries, some of them are more serious. There have been reports saying that this summer toy caused head and spinal injuries.
Remington Derringer 1987 Cap Gun Belt Buckle
I remember how happy my brother was when he got this toy gun. I would always try and take it because I felt so cool holding it. It made me feel like I was out in the Wild West. I remember all the boys in second grade had one of these and walked around with the belt buckle. It turns out that similar to the real thing, these toy guns were dangerous.
The Remington Derringer 1987 Cap Gun contained a substance known as “magic crystals” (calcium carbide). What most parents weren’t aware of, was that if the gun got in the water, the caps would explode. I guess someone forgot to mention that little detail. I can’t believe no one thought to add a warning sticker.
I don’t think anyone is surprised to see the Trampoline on this list. This one is pretty much a given. Now, we have a net wall that can protect our bodies, but back in the day, the trampoline was nothing but a spring trap! One accidental misstep or a simple double jump can cause anything from a sprained ankle to a serious head injury.
According to Good Housekeeping, about 90,000 people are sent to the hospital every year, thanks to trampolines. The American Academy of Pediatrics said that kids should stay away from trampolines completely. One accident can cause collisions or falls that lead to broken bones. More severe injuries lead to paralysis or death, which is a pretty scary thought.
Before kids were consumed with video games and iPads, we couldn’t wait to put our shoes on and play outside. The new generation will never understand why anyone would play outside if they have air conditioning and Netflix inside. Well, we know why! When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to go outside and play with my Skip-It.
The Skip-It was almost like a hula-hoop-jump-rope-hybrid, and it was incredibly popular in the 90s. Unfortunately, if you skip fast enough, the heavy ball rolling around your ankle could crash into someone else’s ankle (speaking from personal experience here). This was painful and can cause large bruises, but the injuries were usually pretty minor. However, some reports say that Skip-It knocked out a few teeth.
Pogo Bal was a more dangerous version of the pogo stick. There are no handlebars or a pole to hold on to. It’s literally a plastic ball squeezed between a plastic ring. You’re probably wondering what the weight capacity was for a toy like this. Well, no one knew. This toy basically told kids to launch in the air… and worry about landing later.
Although the toy became popular in the 90s, it was actually invented by a couple of Belgian toy makers back in 1969. The original name of this toy was Springbal before Hasbro changed it to Pogo Bal. This was the definition of “It’s all fun and games until someone got hurt.” Thankfully, us 90s kids didn’t mind coming up bruised with a couple of skinned knees.
CSI: Fingerprint Examination Kit
Who doesn’t like investigating a crime scene? Catching a criminal and solving a mystery while dusting for fingerprints seemed like such a cool concept (and still does). Well, this was made possible with the CSI: Fingerprint Examination Kit. The toy seemed like an interesting idea, and it appealed to the children of the time.
Unfortunately, it turned out that the powder used in the fingerprint dust contains traces of Tremolite (otherwise known as asbestos). Exposure to this substance is highly linked to mesothelioma and cancer. Apparently, this toy was assembled in China. When they went through tests over there, no traces of asbestos were found in the product. Pretty suspicious, huh? I think this toy needs an investigation of its own.
I always loved helping my mom in the kitchen. Unfortunately, she didn’t love it as much as I did. That’s where the easy bake oven comes in. This mid-century brainchild brought culinary magic into the homes of America. In 1963, the Easy-Bake Oven was introduced to the world. They came with a 100 watt incandescent bulb. In 2012, incandescent bulbs could no longer be sold so instead, they had fluorescent light bulbs that could heat up to 350 degrees (sold separately, of course).
It has been around for over 50 years, but the Easy-Bake Oven remains a childhood favorite. Unfortunately, this toy can also be dangerous. The reported injuries aren’t too shocking. Sometimes children’s fingers got caught in the oven, which led to some superficial burns. You know what they say, “Stay out of the kitchen if you can’t handle the heat.
20 Polly Pocket Magnetic Play Set
Similarly to Cabbage Patch Kids, Polly Pocket was a huge success when it was introduced in the 90s. They were essentially just little tiny rubber plastic dolls, but for some reason, we all loved them. Once Polly Pocket was a clear hit, other variations hit the market. One of these new editions was the Polly Pocket Magnetic Play Set.
This magnetic playset was revolutionary. Polly was being pulled around the world, hand-free thanks to the magnets. Sadly, the magnets quickly became a choking hazard. Swallowing these things can cause asphyxiation and organ rupture. That definitely doesn’t sound safe. After several reported injuries, the toy was recalled and taken off the shelves. As a 90’s kid, Polly Pockets will always hold a special place in my heart.
Sometimes parents want to enjoy the pool without having to hold their toddlers the entire time. That’s when someone came up with baby boats! Perfect for babies with pool loving parents. Like any pool toy involving children, a few accidents are bound to happen. These inflatable boats have been popular for a while and still are. However, reports of drowning kids became a concern for many parents.
Apparently, boats would flip over, which can easily cause harm to toddlers. The seat straps were another safety concern. Thankfully, Baby Boats have evolved throughout the years, and they now have better safety features. Some baby boats use foam as opposed to the inflatable rings. They also have safety instructions.
Who else assaulted their little siblings with a Nerf Gun? In the 90s, these guns became extremely popular, but they have actually been around since the 60s. Reyon Guyer was the inventor who came up with this concept. To prove this man’s genius, he is also the brains behind Twister. He wanted to create a game that was safe for kids and easy to toss around.
The idea he came up with was the Nerf Ball, which later evolved into the Nerf Gun for kids to enjoy. Ever since then, children everywhere have been playing with this toy. Although this toy isn’t considered as dangerous as some others on this list, freak accidents are bound to happen. Eye injuries, including corneal abrasion, have reportedly been caused by the toy.
Owning a pair of Moon Shoes was every kid’s dream! When they were first introduced in the 70s, Moon Shoes were considered pretty dangerous. This toy was literally mini trampolines for your feet, and the original design had metal springs. That’s why it’s not very surprising to hear that these shoes caused their share of injuries.
In addition to cuts and scrapes, this toy caused a lot of sprained ankles. The toy was updated, but the toy still had its dangers. Moon Shoes seem to have been a popular trend that died out through the years. Now they just seem like a thing of the past. If you want to get yourself a pair of Moon Shoes today, apparently you can find them on eBay.
The Pull-Along is a wooden or plastic puppy on wheels. The toy is very simple. It’s not a robot, it doesn’t bark, and it doesn’t even light up. I, for one, was shocked to find out that this was one of the most dangerous toys in 2018. Are you wondering why? It’s all because of the string. Believe it or not, that small rope was enough to cause concern.
It turns out, one of the negative qualities of this pooch is strangulation. Parents should make sure their kids are extra careful around this (and string in general). If a child entangles themselves in this string, it can cause serious problems. I guess even the simplest of toys can be dangerous.
Yo-Yo Water Balls
Wow! These Yo-Yo water balls really take me back. These toys were a treasure in those 25 cent machines! Remember those toy dispensers? They were filled with colorful plastic containers with a prize inside. The trinkets could be anything from bouncy balls to fake tattoos. If you were lucky, you got one of the bigger prizes like the Yo-Yo Water Ball.
This toy looked like a Yo-Yo, but it was basically a silicone ball filled with some sort of liquid, and it was fun to play with. It turned out that the mystery liquid inside wasn’t exactly kid-friendly. Apparently, it’s a skin irritant. Plus, the silicone string attached to the Water Ball was reportedly linked to strangulation.
Kids love arts and crafts, but parents don’t like the mess. This is why Aqua Dots were perfect. The craft is low maintenance and easy to clean up. The art toy lets you create fun shapes with a spritz of water. I played with these things, and I made plenty of dog faces, flowers, and heart shapes. As it turns out, the molecule that sticks these things together after getting wet is dangerous if ingested.
Obviously, most toys are dangerous if ingested, but this one is pretty eerie. You can find a chemical bonding agent in Aqua Dots to get them to stick. This agent contains disturbing amounts of an illegal substance similar to Rohypnol… otherwise known as roofies! Yep. It’s better to keep this toy on the shelf.
Magnetix Magnetic Building
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC) labeled the Magnetix Magnetic Building set as a toy that is linked to “serious injuries.” Similar to the Polly Pocket Play Set, they contain a magnetic component that is extremely dangerous and can cause internal damage if swallowed.
The USCPSC’s official report was: “[If ingested} the objects can attract to each other inside the intestines and can cause perforations and/or blockage, which can be fatal if not treated immediately.” Yikes! Kid’s toys should really stay away from magnets. There were 27 intestinal injuries linked to the toy and one death. Whatever happened to building blocks? They don’t contain any magnetic compounds, and they are hard to swallow. Perfect for kids of all ages.
The Creepy Crawlers set came out in 1965 and has been a huge hit ever since. I guess a lot of kids were bug lovers and it was a good way to terrify parents. In the 90s, the Creepy Crawlers set was revived with safety improvements. For the original Creepy Crawlers set, there were no restrictions on the chemical compounds it contained. It was the 60s, so I’m not that surprised.
Apparently, when baked, the chemical materials released are toxic and can be extremely dangerous when inhaled. Kids that played with Creepy Crawlers probably lost a lot of brain cells. Children also burned their fingers, but that was easier to treat. I never saw what the big deal was with this toy. I wasn’t a fan.
Splash-Off Water Rocket
When we were kids, there was nothing more fun than getting soaked by water toys on a hot summer day. Water guns were popular, but so was the Splash-Off Water Rocket. This toy helped refresh us from the heat, and you could launch the rocket into the air. Like the other toys in this list, the Splash-Off Water Rocket also had its downsides.
Apparently, after the rocket was launched, it would swerve in different directions and hit people nearby. That wasn’t the only dangerous feature. Sometimes the rocket would explode before even taking off! It has something to do with the water pressure expanding the rocket. Anyway, the toy was eventually recalled in 1997 and has stayed in the past.
30 Socker Boppers
Socker Boppers were the definition of sibling rivalry. This toy was more often used as a form of revenge as opposed to a casual play (at least for me). Most of us remember this classic 90s toy from the catchy commercial! It should have been obvious that this toy wasn’t 100% safe. First of all, getting punched in the face can hurt. Plus, this inflatable fist caused several injuries.
It seems that the injuries made this toy popular among children, but not for parents. Thankfully, the injuries were minor, so Socker Boppers weren’t as dangerous as some of the other toys on this list. The trend eventually died out, and the new generation isn’t really interested in inflatable toys. They seem to prefer electronics.
When they were first released, kids everywhere ditched their bikes for a scooter. Kick Scooters were one of the most popular toys on the market, but also the most dangerous. Between 1990 and 2011, scooters were the reason toy-related injuries rose by 40%. Most of these injuries included scrapes, bruises, cuts, and strains.
However, researchers at John Hopkins say many kids sprained, fractured, and broke bones, particularly their arms or hands (I personally broke my arm on a scooter). This toy is still on the market and probably will be for a while. Since scooters aren’t going anywhere, experts encourage children to wear helmets as well as elbow and knee pads. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
In 2015, the new trendy way of transportation was Hoverboards. It was a self-balancing scooter that every kid wanted. Unfortunately, they were banned by city officials, and retailers had to take them off of the shelves immediately. These Hoverboards were doing more damage than a few cuts and scrapes. They were exploding!
That’s right. These things would explode while being used. This hazard led to 10 companies recalling over 500,000 Hoverboards. There were over 100 reports of fire incidents due to this toy. CNET has reported that regulations were strengthened since then, and Hoverboards are much safer. I don’t know. I should probably warn my little sister, who rides her Hoverboard all the time. I had no idea they were exploding!
Fisher-Price Power Wheels
It looks like Hoverboards aren’t the only exploding toy. This Fisher-Price Power Wheels car was extremely popular for kids in the 90s. Sadly, this toy was soon branded as a fire hazard when nine children were burned. These cars would quickly overheat, leading to fires and explosions. For safety, the battery should be handled by grown-ups only.
There were hundreds of reports stating melting or smoking parts, and 150 reports of actual fires caused by the vehicle. As a result, the company had to recall an astonishing 10 million of these kiddie cars. Supposedly, some of these cars caught fire when they were sitting in the garage unused. Needless to say, kids should stay away from driving for a while.
If you were a kid in the late 80s or early 90s, you definitely remember slap bracelets. I remember my school banning them, but they weren’t the only ones. Apparently, almost all schools banned them after the sharp metal would cut a lot of the student’s tender skin. But slap bracelets never really went away. They weren’t recalled, and most of us still wore them to school (even though it wasn’t allowed).
Slap Bracelets weren’t taken off of the shelves in the 90s, but in 2012, Toysmith had to recall a huge batch of them. The metal was wearing through the fabric, exposing sharp edges and making these bracelets even more dangerous. In 2017, Studio Fun recalled thousands of their troll-themed bracelets for the same reason.
Kids LOVE anything squishy and gooey. Even nowadays, kids love making slime, and Silly Putty will always be popular. But it was back in the 60s when Hasbro introduced a product named Flubber into the world. This toy seems child-friendly, but it’s not as safe as it seems to be. Not long after Flubber hit the shelf, it was recalled.
After it was released, the company was hit with thousands of reports of sore throats and rashes on kids who played with it. What did they do with all this excess Flubber? Apparently, the product was buried behind the warehouse because they couldn’t sink it in the ocean or burn it. If a product won’t sink or burn… I don’t trust it.
Fidget Spinners were officially released in 1993. However, they became astronomically popular in 2017 when everyone owned one. When it was trending, the toy earned a lot of scrutiny. You’re probably wondering, what is so dangerous about Fidget Spinners? Maybe they can fly out of your hand and hit someone in the face? Nope.
The reason this toy was considered hazardous was that kids could pop the metal pieces out of the spinners and swallow them. This reportedly happened twice. I don’t think that it’s necessarily the company’s fault, but what do I know? In November 2017, Target pulled some of their Fidget Spinners off the shelves because of the “extremely high” levels of lead that they contained.
Burger King Pokémon Balls
In 1999, kids were excited to eat at Burger King and get a seemingly harmless Pokémon Ball with their meal. These were the coolest prizes because Pokémon was extremely popular at the time. The Pokémon Balls split open, and inside was a small Pokémon toy. Unfortunately, if Burger King went back in time, they would have never included these prizes with their meals.
Sadly, a baby and a toddler suffocated when the balls suctioned to their faces and blocked their mouths and noses. Another child was saved because her father pulled the toy off her face in time. As a result, Burger King recalled 25 million of the balls. They were later sued for at least one of the reported deaths.
Inflatable bounce houses were a staple at every backyard birthday party. They were big, bright, and exciting! Unfortunately, just like Trampolines, Bounce Houses aren’t as safe as you would think. To me, they seem like a huge cushion to break your fall, but apparently, I’m wrong. These things are a magnet for injuries.
According to CPSC, in 2013 alone, there were over 17,000 Bounce House related injuries. There have been a few cases of improperly staked bounce houses that flew away in the wind while kids were still inside them. This was serious; they flew up to 20 feet in the air. Sadly, between 2003 and 2013, 12 children died due to bounce house related incidents. The number of injuries is way higher.
Fisher-Price Toddler Trikes
Fisher-Price is a popular establishment, which manufactured tons of children’s toys. In fact, since the 1930s, the company created approximately 5,000 different toys. With so many products, it’s not surprising that a few mistakes occur. The second Fisher-Price toy on this list is their toddler Trikes. In 2010, this toy was recalled and taken off the shelves.
The toddler trikes seemed like a harmless tricycle. Unfortunately, kids can strike or fall on the ignition key, which is placed in the front center of the trikes, just above the seats. Reportedly, 10 kids were seriously injured when they fell against them. They were even a few reports of genital bleeding. The trikes were later redesigned with a flatter (and safer) key.