The month is

23 2011

10 Most Dangerous Toys of All Time

In just a few short days, Christmas will be upon on us.  On Christmas morning, children throughout the world will gather excitedly beneath their tinseled trees.  They’ll dive eagerly into small mountains of gaily wrapped packages, tear through enough colorful ribbons and wrapping paper to choke a landfill, and shriek in high-decibel delight at the toys, games and other playthings discovered within.

Or maybe they’ll just be shrieking in horrific pain as they’re pinched, scratched, cut, bruised, burned, blinded and permanently disabled by ill-conceived, poorly designed and cheaply made implements of terror whose psychological scars will endure long after the tree has been tossed and the lights banished to the basement.

Hey, Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without at least one trip to the Emergency Room, right?

Here for your nostalgic delight – or perhaps as a last-minute stocking stuffer idea for that favorite foul-mouthed nephew of yours – is a cheerful look at the Top 10 Most Dangerous Toys of All Time:

1.  BB Guns. We all remember the Red Ryder BB Gun from the 1983 classic “A Christmas Story.”  Yes, mothers everywhere hated these cursed weapons because you could “shoot your eye out.”  Hey, if you were behind the trigger, you were actually more likely to shoot your mother’s eye out.  Or your sister’s eye out.  Or your cat’s.   Sure, shooting little brass beads at 250 mph had its risks, but if BB Guns were so damned dangerous, how come there weren’t more 10-year-olds running around looking like Snake Plissken?

Truth in Advertising

2. Lawn Darts. Now here’s a real man’s toy:  Oversized barroom weapons you could capriciously lob skyward and look out belooooow!  Lawn Darts were obviously designed by someone who lived some idyllic Midwestern ‘burb where houses had lawns the size of football fields and you could casually toss brass-tipped winged javelins at distant targets without danger of smashing a neighbor’s window or taking out a passing paperboy.  Of course, that most kids eschewed the game’s targets in favor of playing high-stakes versions of dodge ball guaranteed this satanic product’s ultimate demise.

"Ha-ha! Missed me again!"

3. Mattel’s Creepy Crawlers. One of my favorite toys as a kid.  The set consisted of open-topped metal molds into which you squeezed colorful, highly toxic liquid plastic.  Then you carefully placed the mold atop a unit that heated it to a toasty 400-450 degrees.  Then (Now here’s the tricky part) you carefully removed the scalding hot metal mold from the heating unit with a removable handle, placed it in a tray of water where it sizzled and cooled, then carefully peeled a variety of hard rubber spiders, giant ants, worms and other bugs from the mold.  It was all great fun, especially the sizzling part that often involved sections of human anatomy if the mold’s handle wasn’t attached properly and the white-hot aluminum block fell into your lap.  Oh, the joy!

"Holy S*&@T! My hand!"

4. Slip ‘N’ Slide.  The geniuses at Wham-O! no doubt got the idea for this product from all those lucrative “slip and fall” accidents in grocery stores.  The concept was deceptively simple.  You had this long yellow plastic strip with water jets sewn into its borders.  You laid the plastic out on your expansive suburban lawn (Yeah, there’s that lawn again) hooked it up to a garden hose, let the water flow, and then hurled yourself on its slick surface like an Antarctic penguin belly-flopping onto an ice sheet.  It was great fun, broken arms, dislocated shoulders and all.

Personal Injury Lawyer 1-800-Number Included.

5. Johnny Reb Cannon. Robert E. Lee’s revenge.  If BB guns didn’t pack enough punch for the junior secessionist in your family, this miniature Civil War-era blunderbuss fired hard plastic balls with the mere pull of a string, accompanied by an impressive “BOOM!”  This really COULD put out a person’s eye, as well as knock out a tooth or get fatally lodged in your target’s throat.  That’ll teach those Yankee bastards.

And for next Christmas: Li'l Andersonville Prison Playset!

6. Agent Zero M Sonic Blaster. The mid-1960s was the Golden Age for secret agent-based toys and paraphernalia.  This included a series of highly inventive gadgets from Mattel’s “Agent Zero M” series.  For example, the Zero M Sonic Blaster was a bazooka-like air gun you hand-pumped until full, placed on your shoulder, and then fired a concentrated burst of air toward spring-loaded targets.  Hey, what could be safer than a puff of air, right?  Huh?  What?  Did you say something?  Oh, right, soon after the Sonic Blaster was put on the market, consumer advocates discovered that the air gun, when placed on the shoulder and NEXT TO THE EAR created a sub-sonic burst that could lead to deafness.

Playing "Let's Take Down the Airliner!"

7. Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab. Learn all about the wonders of atomic energy with your very own Geiger counter and “low-level” radioactive samples.  No putting your eye out with this toy, but you might just grow a third.

Still better than the "Junior Meth Lab Chemistry Set."

8. Swing Wing. A torture device from the Spanish Inquisition updated for 1960s suburbia.  This was a cap you strapped to your head and then used it to swing a series of cords around Hula Hoop-style until you wrenched your neck or simply dropped over from vertigo.

For kids desperate to be ostricized by their peers.

9. Snack Time Cabbage Patch Dolls. Cabbage Patch Dolls were all the rage about 25 years ago.  Not content with a mere static doll into which a little boy or girl could project his or her imagination, Mattel decided it would be far more interesting to equip its dolls with mechanical jaws of death into which an innocent tyke could insert a make-believe sandwich or very real finger or strand of hair.   Nothing is likely to forever kill a girl’s maternal instinct than a doll that is trying to relentlessly devour her living flesh.

"It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it will not stop, ever, until you're dead."

10.  Sky Dancers. Flying pixies from Hell.  Imagine a Barbie doll mated with a helicopter gunship.  These spring-load sprites boasted paddle-like appendages of soft foam rubber that, prior to launch, appeared as harmless as a feather.  But when sent skyward, the spinning arms became uncontrolled Blades of Death that resulted in dozens of injuries, including scratched corneas and temporary blindness.

Buzzsaw Barbie

Have a great weekend, be safe, and Merry Christmas!