No one said that humans were perfect. We are always evolving and learning from our past, and this is clearly evident in the production of toys. What was once accessible and fun is now dangerous and awe-inspiring; we simply can't help but shake our heads and look back on these toys with complete bewilderment.
How did this get made? Who on Earth thought this was a good idea? WHY were they made illegal? These are questions that we all have when faced with a banned toy.
These are twenty toys that are illegal today. Wasn't the past wonderful?
20 Snacktime Cabbage Patch Kid
Snacktime Cabbage Patch Kid dolls were an infamous variation, as they featured a moving mechanical jaw that chewed plastic food. Unfortunately, the doll couldn't differentiate between plastic and human, and it had a tendency to chew both fingers and hair. One girl's hair became so tangled in the doll that her parents were forced to call 911. Mattel later recalled all the dolls and issued $40 refunds.
19 CSI: Fingerprint Examination Kit
If one thing screams fun for the kids, it's CSI! This fingerprint examination kit allowed kids to search for fingerprints using a brush and a special powder. Unfortunately, this powder contained up to 5% asbestos, which, you know, isn't a particularly healthy thing for a kid to ingest. Or anyone, for that matter. The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization quickly filed a civil suit against the makers of the kit in a valiant attempt to stop sales.
18 Sky Dancers
Sky Dancers were little dolls with foam wings that flew into the air once their string was pulled. They were really popular in the mid 90s and peaked around the 1994 Christmas season. However, there were over 100 reported injuries stemming from the dolls' foam wings, and the toys were completely recalled in June of 2000. They were later re-released with a different, safer design in 2005.
17 Kinder Surprise
Despite being legal in Canada and Mexico, Kinder Surprise eggs are highly illegal and fiercely monitored in the United States. They have been banned due to the plastic toys inside the chocolate egg, which the FDA considers a significant choking hazard for young children. Americans take the ban very seriously, often threatening Canadians with significant fines if they find Kinder Surprise eggs in their possession while crossing the border.
16 Rollerblade Barbie
Rollerblade Barbie did just what her name suggested - she rollerbladed. However, there was a teensy, tiny problem, as Barbie's skates somehow managed to shoot out sparks while gliding across a smooth and flat surface. This could not only hurt children, but it posed a significant fire hazard. Chalk this one up to one major oopsie.
Clackers went by a few names, including clankers and Ker-Bangers. They were really popular in the late 60s and early 70s, and they consisted of nothing but a string and two hard plastic balls. The object was to slap the balls together, creating a "clacking" sound. Talk about primitive! But yeah, they were super dangerous, and they were banned in 1976 after being classified as a "mechanical hazard."
14 The Austin Magic Pistol
The 1940s were like the Wild West of toy manufacturing. You never knew what was going to come out next! Case in point, the ludicrous Austin Magic Pistol, a toy pistol that used highly explosive calcium carbide to launch a ping pong ball at horrific, and extremely dangerous, speeds. Needless to say, this "toy" was quickly taken off the market, and we collectively decided to never mention it again.
13 Light Bulb Easy-Bake Oven
The original Easy-Bake Oven was released in 1963, and early versions of the toy used an incandescent light bulb as its heating source. However, these light bulbs were resulting in severe burns, and one child even needed to get a part of her finger amputated due to a particularly nasty injury. Hasbro recalled these ovens, and a heating element is now used instead.
Buckyballs were a popular brand of neodymium magnets, those little small spheres often found in educational toys or stress relief mechanisms. Naturally, nearly 3,000 children have swallowed these balls, resulting in a harsh letter from U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission chairwoman. Upon learning of an impending CPSC lawsuit, Buckyballs voluntarily ceased production and manufacturing.
11 Barbie And Tanner
Barbie and Tanner was certainly an odd toy. It promoted responsible pet ownership, and it required users to control Barbie to pick up Tanner's...um...waste. If that doesn't sound horrifying enough, there were also numerous reports of the magnet in the scooper coming loose, which of course presented a choking hazard. Nearly 700,000 units were recalled, and Barbie and Tanner were effectively taken off the market.
10 Aqua Dots
Aqua Dots were tiny colorful beads, and the glue on the beads contained traces of gamma-hydroxybutyrate. AKA the date rape drug. Once children inevitably swallowed these little plastic beads, they would vomit profusely or even lapse into a coma, which did indeed occur on more than one occasion. The toy's manufacturers recalled every single package of Aqua Dots and later remade (this time WITHOUT the date rape drug) and re-branded them as Pixos.
9 Aqua Leisure Baby Boats
Aqua Leisure baby boats were little plastic inflatable boats that allowed babies to float in a pool. However, the boat's leg straps were grossly insufficient, and it often resulted in babies slipping through the hole and into the pool. After thirty reported cases of near-drownings, four million boats were recalled and Aqua Leisure were fined $650,000. You can now find their baby boats with a trademarked "Perfect Fit Seat."
8 Atomic Energy Laboratory
Atomic Energy Laboratory was created by a man named Alfred Carlton Gilbert, and it was intended to educate children on nuclear reactions...by having them create one! Included in this kit was a Geiger counter and four glass jars containing radioactive minerals like autunite and tobernite. Unsurprisingly, this toy did not sell well, and it was quickly taken off the shelves.
The slingshot is one of the all time classic toys, even if they are incredibly dangerous. While it often defined as a projectile weapon, slingshots were often given to kids so they could shoot cans or whatever. There is a huge legal gray area surrounding the use of slingshots, and they are prohibited in many jurisdictions around the country, including New York.
6 Air Guns
Much like the slingshot, air guns are incredibly dangerous weapons that were once given as toys to children. Just think of A Christmas Story - "You'll shoot your eye out!" And while that particular line was used as a joke in the movie, it's not far from the truth. Air guns laws vary by state and jurisdiction, and both New Jersey and Rhode Island even classify them as firearms! Regardless of the law, it is almost always illegal for a child to own or operate an air gun.
5 Yo-Yo Water Balls
Yo-yo water balls are made from stretchy thermoplastic elastomers, and as such, they had a tendency to wrap around children's necks and cause strangulation and suffocation. By 2017, the CPSC has received 409 reported cases of strangulation stemming from yo-yo water balls. As such, they are now banned in various states, including New Jersey, New York, and Illinois.
Magnetix are a popular construction kit consisting of plastic pieces and steel bearing balls. Unfortunately, there was one hiccup - the little magnets inside the plastic pieces could easily fall out and be swallowed by children. This resulted in four serious injuries and a death, resulting in a recall of 3.8 million building sets in 2006. While Magnetix are still sold in stores, they are a heavily modified version that resulted from significant re-branding and re-building.
3 Polly Pocket Quik Clik
In 2004, Mattel introduced a "Quik Clik" line of their popular Polly Pocket dolls. The difference was that these dolls had plastic clothes that were held onto the doll with magnets. Naturally, children tended to swallow the magnets that came loose, resulting in a significant recall of over four million Polly Pocket dolls. It permanently soured the brand's reputation, and they were discontinued in 2012.
2 Metal Lawn Darts
Lawn darts, or javelin darts, were massive 12 inch-long darts with weighted metal tips that were meant to be thrown into the air. Needless to say, these foot-long metal darts were insanely dangerous, and they were banned some time in the 70s. The ban was successfully challenged, but was once again reinstated in 1988 after 6,000 people were sent to the emergency room and a seven-year-old child was tragically taken.
1 Candy Cigarettes
These aren't really "toys" per se, but they are a novelty candy meant to be played with, so we're counting it! Candy cigarettes were introduced in the late 19th century and were intended to mimic real cigarettes. Needless to say, concerns were quickly raised, and Popeye Cigarettes both removed their signature red tip and re-branded themselves as "candy sticks."
Sources: littlethings.com, wikipedia.org, entertainment.howstuffworks.com, takejusticeback.com, goodhousekeeping.com