Toys that should have killed us but only left permanent scars. Part one.

Childhood. That wonderful time when we are immortal from death, free from pain, and have about as much common sense as dead rat. WE survived, no thanks to the toys of the day but we survived. Enjoy a quick trip down memory lane with me as we venture down the recent past.

Pow-Pow-power wheels

The Idea

The sun sets, just a kid, the open road and a 12 volt (which just happens to be the same as a car battery) powered power wheel. It could have been a replica of a Jeep or the Barbie corvette but that didn’t matter because this was a bad momma jammy at its finest. I can remember seeing these things tear down the sidewalk when I was a kid. Granted I never had one for some reason my parents didn’t think the kid who once gave himself 18 stitches in his knee because he thought he could jump over a 4 foot plant stand had the responsibility to drive heavy machinery. This would be a totally safe way for MOST kids to enjoy the thrill of the open sidewalks at a blazing five miles per hour without the danger of a real car and all those tedious driver’s license requirements.

Check out the original commercial on YouTube

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How it left the scars

On October 22, 1998 Fisher Price recalled over 10 million battery-powered Power Wheels ride-on cars and trucks. 10 Freakin Million! That’s a lot 0’s kids. Why? You may ask would they do such a thing. Well there was a little problem with the electrical components failing and overheating while the cars and trucks were being ridden, and sometimes when they were parked. 700 little Tommie’s and Tammie’s got their asses collectively lit up by this fabulous toy. Although it did look cool as hell tearing down the street with the ass-end on fire, well at least until it reached the seat anyway.

Fisher-Price has received approximately 700 reports of electrical components failing and overheating while the cars and trucks were being ridden, charged, parked or stored. About 150 fires have been reported


Back yard Gym sets

 

The Idea

This one is as old as apple pie and passing out during the seventh inning stretch, in no particular order. Swing sets are simple things in that you sit and the swing goes back and forth via the power of the feets. Granted like most kids I had two major goals when I was on a swing set as a child. One, get that thing going high enough to do a complete loop. Or when that didn’t work (and it never did) jump off at the apex of the upswing with enough force to crack the ground like iron man when I landed.

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“And THAT my friends is how you kill a spider!”

In the old days (were talking 80’s here) they were made from real metal and took our poor Dad’s 9 hours plus to put one together. Most were very much like they are today. Couple of swings and a little slide that you spent more time jumping off the top of than sliding down. One company decided to go a little outside the box. Hedstrom and Sears brand gym sets said to hell with all this boring slide stuff, how can we put a teeter totter on this thing.

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“Oh my goodness you took the blue pill didn’t you!!”

The idea was to add teeter totter / swing set contraption that one kid would sit on each on each end and go back and forth. Look at the image below and you can see what they were going for. Great idea in theory. Who used the slide anyway.

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“This your honor is a “before” photo”

 

How it left the scars

 

The issue was not apparent at first. Like with all new toys kids were caution for the first 5 minutes. Then boredom set it and they had to try a push a little bit further. When a child stood on the slide or crossbar, reached over to propel or stop the motion of the glide ride, he or she stood a great chance of earning a free amputation.

 

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“What this? It’s just a flesh wound!!”

In November 1988 Hedstrom and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission tried real hard to get people to ask for a free little plastic part that would have easily taken care of the issue. Sadly is was too late. Boo boo’s had already happened.

There have been several incidents of children receiving severe laceration and amputations when getting their fingers caught between the metal slide

 

 

The at home science Kit

 

The Idea

I am a geek. That sadly meant I was a geek child. This included but was not limited to many a lonely Friday night. It also meant I could take apart a trs-80 and put it back together again and some really cool , em I mean small but controlled fires that I may or may not have been directly responsible for. I digress. This also meant that I owned a science kit or two in my time. My favorite was this thing my parents got from radio shack. You were supposed to be able to build an actual transistor radio out of the thing but I could get do was get a hiss from the darn thing.

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Back in 1994 some folks over at the wild goose company of salt lake city got together and thought that kids were just having way to much fun without the benefit of science. So they came up with an idea.

What if instead of preferring being force fed broccoli through a straw kids could have fun with science. Sounds like a pretty novel idea. But hey why stop there lets take this science at home thing one step further, what if we could teach them how to create heat via chemical reaction. Heat is cool right fellas?

 

Two businessmen sharing jokes

“You just lost you black bird, What Ted? Sure great idea!!”

How it left the scars

You see their target demographic was kids under 10 years old.

Issue number one.

The kit has 2 identical bottles of chemicals, glycerin and potassium permanganate. Granted the labels clearly contained different words but hey, who the heck has time to read labels we’re making heat here!

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There were no color codes, nothing to tell the small under 10-year-old minds that hey, maybe you should not mix these. Not to mention the half drunk adult minds. If you do mix these, like say switch caps and just a tiny drop or two sneaks into the wrong bottle, well let’s just say I hope your house insurance is paid up.

Issue number two.

Expecting kids, or adults for that matter to pay attention lids, labels or read directions. There are at least two house fires on the record from this very thing. In 1994 The Wild Goose Company of Salt Lake City, Utah, voluntarily recalled their “Professor Wacko’s Exothermic Exuberance” chemistry kits and I presume moved to desert to train under master Yoda.

If after use, a child or adult inadvertently switches the bottle caps, causing small portions of the chemicals to mix, an unexpected fire may result. CPSC is aware of at least two house fires that reportedly resulted from the above scenario

 

Kid Sized Hammock

funny to spell not so funny as your final resting place…..

 

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The idea

The hammock, meant to be the epiphany of relaxation and “keep away from me or I’ll squirt you with a garden hose at the least, or more likely throw my drink at your face with no regard for the pain it will cause.” Adults have loved them for years, so why not make one for little Timmy or Tammy? It’s a simple enough concept,

1 take full size hammock

2. Shrink full size hammock down to wee little kids size.

3. Have a kid puts their butts in the hammock and that’s about it. Just chill, relax maybe if your gutsy swing back and forth just a little bit. Simple safe and fun.

 

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“What me worry?”

 

 

How it left the scars

In concept even I think this is a good idea. I have enjoyed the occasional afternoon relaxing (well to be honest trying to keep very still and praying that I do not upset the hammock gods and am therefore ejected from their paradise and onto the hard ground below). The thing nobody thought of was that little kids are just that, kids. If you look at most kids they are a lot smaller than their full-sized adult counter parts. As adults we know that if you slip between the ropes it’s going to be a long night at the ER if your lucky or at the very least a long day at work tomorrow when you have to explain the strange rope burns on your body. Kids however lack the foresight. These were literally just shrunk down versions of the adult hammock. The recall and lawsuits were fast and furious.

when children are attempting to climb into or out of, are playing on, or are swinging on mini-hammocks like swings.

YO-YO balls

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“What could possible go wrong?”

The idea

A yo-yo is a simple enough toy. It goes down, it comes up when you flick your wrist. What could be more fun than a yo-yo? The Smothers Brothers made a career of it. Well a company decided they could not only improve the yo-yo but blow it out of the water making it scream uncle while wearing a tu-tu.

 

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“Laugh at me and I’ll chew your face off.”

A simple concept really, a water filled ball with a stretchy plastic chord. You throw the heavy ball out and it comes back. A yo-yo without the talent. Anyone could use this thing. For fun you could swing it through the air as well with your hands high about your head like some roman soldier with an old school sling shot.

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“Krazicus, put your underclothes down and come to dinner!”

How it left the scars

Well let’s start with the chemical makeup of the toy its self. You see to get that squishy tough plastic they use to keep all that glorious “watery stuff” inside they needed something strong. What they came up with is actually made with diesel hydrocarbons. Flammable? No more than a Kleenex dipped in gas. You literally have to wash your hands after playing with this toy it says so on the box. The concept was just a bad idea. The main issue aside from the heavily flammable thing was if you were swinging this thing around over your head wildly and dropped your hands to your body the heavy water filled ball now smacks you in the throat then wraps it’s way quickly around your neck.

There were multiple incidents actually causing this product to be completely banned in three states.

Clackers also known as Ker-Bangers

 

 

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“Looks safe, right?”

The idea

Everyone likes balls. Think of all the sports that would not exists if it were not for balls. What if they took those beloved balls and put them on a string?. We mean come on HEAVY BALLS ON A STRING, in the hands of a child. Sounds like a winner to me!

 

A businessman sat in the corner of the room wearing a dunce's hat with a dumb expression on his face.

“Leave him there for two hours then send him out to test the new teeter swings…”

You took this cool little toy and by moving your hands up and down you could make the balls slam into each other making a click clack sound. Hours and hours of ball clacking fun.

How it left the scars

There were two major downfalls of this toy. One, it was made of acrylic plastic. Somewhat strong but when you have a bunch of fools like us who our only goal was to get them going as fast and hard as possible would often find the balls shattering and filling our collective faces with small, sharp, pieces of shrapnel. Not to mention if your hand foolishly came between the fast swinging balls you would soon be the owner of a brand new finger cast.

consumer Product Safety Commission tested these toys, the balls either shattered or cracked

watch for part two next week, and thank you all for the support! Oh by the way feel free to share your experiences from childhood below.

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