Parents let their kids play with anything back in the ‘90s. Toys that could cause injuries, expose them to offensive language or even share similarities with underground gambling. Yup, this was what kids in the ‘90s did to pass the time.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commissions 1996 report, there were 138,097 emergency room treated injuries involving toys. When kids start getting hurt, parents put pressure on toy companies. This in turn leads to recalls, stores pulling toys off shelves and even bans in schools.
We’re going to look at toys below that companies discontinued, schools forbid and ones even major organizations like the NSA banned.
For even more unbelievable toys, check out WWE toys that actually got made.
19 Mini Hammocks
Kids could plop into a Mini Hammock in the ‘90s for some relaxation—but not without risk. Good Housekeeping reports that Mini Hammocks led to the tragic passing of twelve kids. As a result, the CPSC called on Mini Hammocks’ makers to recall the products for putting kids’ lives in dangers.
18 Sky Dancers
As shown in Toy Story 4, Sky Dancers could rocket up into the air and spin around before landing. They weren’t exactly the safest toys around though, so it led to the CPSC taking action. The toy got recalled in 2000 after enough reports had emerged of kids getting injured from playing with it.
17 Yo-Yo Water Balls
Not only did Yo-Yo Water Balls contain questionable materials, but their design was potentially dangerous. According to Little Things, it used flammable diesel hydrocarbons to make it. With a spiky ball on the end attached to a stretchy string, kids would accidentally fling it around their neck, which led to injuries and an eventual ban.
16 Teletubby Po
No one suspected an adorable Teletubby toy to speak questionable language. According to Burlingame Museum of PEZ Memorabilia, a Teletubby Po doll released in 1998 by Playskool said, "bite my butt" and other phrases unsuitable for children. That same year, they took the toy away from stores. Parents weren’t too happy to learn what their child’s doll was teaching them.
Pokémon first arrived in the ‘90s where even fast food restaurants got in on the craze. Burger King gave out toys that came in a plastic Pokéballs. According to Mental Floss, an infant passed away due to these toys, which forced Burger King to take action and put out a recall.
14 Slip N’ Slides
Less a hazard for kids, Slip N’ Slides posed a greater risk for adults. After all, these products were made for kids. According to Good Housekeeping, the company behind Slip N’ Slides, WHAM-O had to issue a recall in 1999 because seven adults and a teenager got neck injuries as a result of using the product.
13 Snacktime Cabbage Patch Kid
On paper, the Snacktime Cabbage Patch Kid sounds like a creative idea for a doll. It actually has a mouth that simulates chewing, so kids could feel like they were feeding the doll. The only problem was the harm it caused for kids who stuck their fingers in or got hair caught in the mouth. Gizmodo reports that the doll underwent a recall in 1997.
Every ‘90s kid remembers Pogs. What they may not remember or know about though are its gambling-like concerns. According to The Best Schools, kids would win Pogs and feud over what they lost. As a result of the game leading to conflicts between students, schools banned them across America, Canada, Iceland, Germany and other countries (Mental Floss).
The ‘90s has its share of embarrassing toys, and one of them is undoubtedly Furby. Not only were they small and fury dolls, but they could pick up and repeat back certain words they heard. This became a security issue for the National Security Agency who, according to The Best Schools, prohibited employees from ever bringing them into work.
10 Splash Off Water Rockets
A rocket that shoots up using water sounds like a kid’s dream toy. According to the CPSC’s website, Splash Off Water Rockets sold in 1997. However, after reports came in that rockets could injure kids due to a build-up of water, the CPSC partnered with the toy’s makers, Ohio Art Company of Bryan, to recall the toy.
9 Easy Bake Oven
The Easy Bake Oven offered kids the same experience their parents had in the kitchen. Despite making Easy Bake Ovens throughout the ‘90s, Hasbro had to issue a recall in 2007. According to Gizmodo, kid’s fingers were getting caught and burned in the oven, turning this into one dangerous toy.
8 Dick Tracy “Tramp” Action Figure
It may look like an ordinary Dick Tracy action figure on the surface, but it’s more offensive than it appears. As Burlingame Museum of PEZ Memorabilia notes, the packaging described the figure’s character as an "ignorant bum...you'll smell him before you see him," which didn't depict homelessness in a considerate way.
7 Slap Bracelets
Imagine a flat band you could whack against your arm and it wrapped around in a flash. That simple concept led to a Slap Bracelets craze in the ‘90s. However, the site Little Things confirms that schools banned them. It’s all fun and games until a bully uses a slap bracelet on a helpless kid.
A series of playpens in the ‘90s caught the CPSC’s attention when reports emerged that they could put toddlers in harm's way. According to the CPSC’s website, a series of playpens by Bilt-Rite, Playskool, Strolee and others that could injure toddlers if their clothing or pacifier strings snagged on its "protruding rivets." This led to a major recall that affected 9.6 million units.
5 Matador Barbie
Barbie, Mattel’s popular brand of dolls, has had its share of controversies over the years. One of them was “Spanish Barbie,” which depicted the classic doll as a bullfighter dressed in a matador's garbs and holding a muleta. According to SHARK Online, after receiving letters—including one from actress Alicia Silverstone—Mattel discontinued the doll from their lineup for making a Barbie model associated with bullfighting.
Trampolines today look a lot different from the ones in the ‘90s. For example, the netting that keeps kids from falling out was less common. According to Schultz & Myers, there were eleven reported deaths related to trampolines from 1990 to 1999. While not outright banned, a blogger notes that many homeowners insurance companies forbid trampolines anywhere on a resident’s premises as part of their policy (carrieareynolds.com).
3 Blast Balls
Super Bang Blast Balls do exactly what they sound like: they make really loud noises. How do they work? By kids striking them into each other, naturally. The CPSC ultimately partnered with JA-RU Inc., the makers behind Blast Balls, for a recall. The CPSC claims on their website that they can become a “burn hazard” when struck together.
2 Rollerblade Barbie
In addition to "Spanish Barbie," "Rollerblade Barbie” got attention for all the wrong reasons. In living up to its promise on the packaging, “Rollerblade Skates flicker ’n flash!,” this Barbie was a hazard for kids. The site Eighties Kids reports that the dolls got a ban for making sparks come out of the skates.
1 Dive Sticks
To make swimming more fun, there were colorful weighted dive sticks for kids to fetch at the bottom of a pool. Mental Floss reports, however, that there were recalls in 1999 because kids supposedly got impaled and even had to have surgery for their injuries. Companies replaced their dive sticks with a new one that didn’t injure kids.
Sources: CPSC, Schultz & Myers, carrieareynolds.com, Gizmodo, Little Things, Mental Floss, Good Housekeeping, The Best Schools, SHARK Online, Burlingame Museum of PEZ Memorabilia, The Best Schools, Eighties Kids