Why did anyone think these were a good idea?
You might look back on your Teddy Ruxpin or Beanie Babies with nostalgia, but not everything in your childhood toy chest deserves a comeback. Some “playthings” from the 20th century or (even as recent last year!) have caused serious harm to unsuspecting kids. Steer clear of these trinkets and games — unless you want to pay a visit to the ER, that is.
- Aqua Dots
Arrange small beads, spritz ’em with water, and your design will fuse together — sounds fun, right? The problem with this 2007 toy was that the coating released the compound GHB, a.k.a. the date rape drug, when ingested. After three children went into comas after swallowing the toxic pieces, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalled some 4.2 million kits.
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- Atomic Laboratory Kits
Science-based toys still win over parents today, but we guess this particular ’60s chemistry kit wouldn’t pass muster anymore. The Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab — from the inventor of the Erector Set — actually contained four types of uranium ore.
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- Barbie and Tanner
Barbie was just trying to promote responsible pet ownership, but this particular set from 2007 went one step too far. Tanner the pup could “eat” and, um, “dispose” of food, but the magnet inside the scooper accessory could come loose. And if a toddler decides to swallow more than one magnet, the forces of physics can cause intestinal perforation or blockage, according to WebMD.
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Here’s another example of magnets gone wrong. While never marketed directly toward children, the instantly popular Buckyballs inevitably wound up in the hands of kids after launching in 2009. The CPSC forced a recall in 2012 after some 1,700 children visited the ER after ingesting the powerful magnets.
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As if that knocking noise wasn’t annoying enough, this ’70s noveltytoy got taken off the market just a decade later for a major safety hazard. The acrylic balls would often crack or shatter in a tiny shards — that could then fly into your face.
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- Easy-Bake Oven
Hasbro had to recall Easy-Bake Ovens not once but twice in 2007 after several children burned their fingers after getting caught in the miniature appliances. One girl even had part of her finger amputated, according to CBS. The company has since released a newer version with an electric heating element instead of a light bulb.
- Fidget Spinners
The “it” toy of 2017 didn’t just bug teachers. The plastic gizmos also posed a choking hazard. Experts in the Good Housekeeping Institute found that both branded and knock-off models contained parts that could harm children under 3 if broken off.
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The hot ticket item of the 2015 holiday season didn’t go over too well, either. The battery-powered devices tended to burst into flameswhen left charging for too long. One 3-year-old even died after a faulty board sparked a house fire in Pennsylvania.
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- Lawn Darts
Weighted spikes flying through the sky: family-friendly yard game or imminent danger? It wasn’t until 1970 that CPSC went with the latter, banning “jarts” for the first time before reaching a deal with manufacturers to avoid selling them as toys. Even then, some 6,000 kids went to the hospital in the ’70s and ’80s with related injuries, including three fatalities. The CSPC banned them for good in 1988 and urges consumers to destroy any remaining games.
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A popular building set from the mid-2000s, Magnetix became a parent’s nightmare in 2007 when one child died and 28 others suffered serious injuries after swallowing the magnets that had fallen out of the plastic pieces. The manufacturer ultimately recalled some 4 million kits, but still sells a redesigned version today with updated labeling.
- Mini Hammocks
You probably laid in one growing up, but the CPSC issued a recall for approximately 3 million mini-hammocks in 1996 after the deaths of 12 children. The lack of spreader bars enabled the net to twist around a kid’s neck while getting in or out of the seat.
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- Polly Pockets With Quik Clik
Nineties kids will remember the original Polly Pocket compacts, but it was the later versions that actually caused a major safety alert. A few years after launching its “Quik Clik” line in 2004, Mattel recalled 7.3 million play sets due to — you guessed it — faulty magnets. The small parts that made the clothes that snap to the dolls could fall out and cause serious injury.
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- Rollerblade Barbie
Out of all of Barbie’s careers and hobbies, this one from the ’90s definitely caused a firestorm – literally. A cigarette lighter-like device in her skates would legitimately shoot out sparks when rolled on a flat surface. Blade over anything flammable and you’ve got a major problem.
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- Sky Dancers
These flying fairies act more menacing than they look. Just pull the cord on the launcher and the princess doll spins up into the air — and inevitably into people’s faces. After 150 reports of eye injuries, scratched corneas, broken teeth, facial lacerations, and even a mild concussion, Galoob Toys Inc. grounded these playthings for good, recalling about 8.9 million of them in 2000, according to CNN.
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- Slip N’ Slides
Here’s a product where it’s actually safer for a child to use than an adult. The CPSC has periodically reminded kids-at-heart to steer clear of backyard water slides. Because of the added height and weight, teens and grownups might slide and stop suddenly enough to cause permanent spinal cord injury. WHAM-O recalled 9 million slides in 1999 after seven adults and one teen suffered neck injuries or paralysis.
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- Snacktime Cabbage Patch Doll
Remember these guys? Kids could feed the dolls plastic carrots and french fries, but get too close and the powerful mechanical jaws would chomp down on just about anything — including fingers and hair. Ultimately Mattel bit the bullet and offered a $40 refund to the some 500,000 owners/potential victims of a feeding frenzy.
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- Toy Crossbows
Projectile launchers have historically spelled trouble for kids — a missile-shooting spaceship in the ’70s led to modern choking warnings — but somehow people keep buying them. Last year, China had to crack down on a craze for toothpick crossbows. (The tiny spears could pierce a can from more than 60 feet away, according to one video.) Even NERF got called out for its “Nerf Zombie Strike Dreadbolt Crossbow” in 2017.
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- Toy Guns
Likewise, let’s not forget about mini guns. Two of the most famous retro examples include the Austin Magic Pistol and Mattel’s Belt Buckle Derringer, both from the ’50s. The former used “magic crystals” — a.k.a. calcium carbide — to launch ping pong balls. The problem? If any water got in there, it would explode. As for the latter, well that’s literally a cap gun you wear around your waist.
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Last but not least in our weapons category, we have the slingshot. It certainly counts as a classic toy — but some things might be better left in the past. As recently as 2006, the CPSCrecalled more than 100,000 of them after reports of blindings and broken teeth. Even the water balloon kind can cause serious injury.
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There’s a reason why your homeowners insurance may prevent you from buying a backyard trampoline. The bounce pads send about 90,000 people to the hospital per year, according to the most recent data. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against recreational trampolining altogether. Collisions, falls, and improper landings can cause broken bones, concussions, paralysis, or even death.
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