What do a doll that can eat a child’s hair, a cancer-causing science kit and a deadly prop gun all have in common? They’re all real toys that were once available on store shelves. Over the years, countless dangerous toys have made it through safety regulations and into our homes.
Today, we’ll be counting down the worst of the bunch. Did you ever play with any of these toys? Then you might want to pay attention.
Don’t let their bright colors fool you. Only in 2019, more than 220,000 people were admitted to emergency departments in the U.S. because of toy-related injuries. More than 160,000 were kids aged 14 or younger. Sadly, some of the infamous items we will explore today have severely injured and killed children. If you have any of these at home, you’d better follow along so you can survive these colorful killers.
How could one toy produce a date-rape drug? Why did water make a toy gun explode? And how did these things put kids in a coma?
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Number 5: Austin Magic Pistol
Launched in the 1940s, this toy gun could shoot ping pong balls at an astonishing speed, due to an explosive chemical reaction. It included ‘magic’ calcium carbide crystals, which mixed with water produced acetylene gas, a highly flammable substance. So when the kid pulled the trigger…. bang! Today, the Austin Magic Pistol is considered a firearm by many U.S. states.
An explosive chemical reaction on your hands sounds like a terrible idea, so you’d better wear safety gloves and goggles. Also, remember acetylene gas is extremely dangerous close to open flames. Keep this pistol holstered at your next barbecue.
Number 4: Cabbage Patch Snacktime Kids
The popular Cabbage Patch dolls of the 1980s acquired a bad reputation when this toy was released in 1996. This iteration had mechanical jaws that chewed the included plastic carrots and french fries fed to it by its young owner. The problem started when children got their hair or fingers caught in the doll’s jaws and it wouldn’t let go. Upset American parents were calling 9-1-1 to deal with the aftermath, and after 100 reported incidents Snacktime Kids were removed from shelves.
If you end up playing with this hungry toy, you’d better tie your hair back or keep your beard out of the way. Pick up some tongs instead of getting your fingers too close.
Number 3: Sky Dancers
Also released in the 1990s, these flying fairy dolls were propelled into the air by pulling a cord at their base. They were supposed to launch straight up like a helicopter, then gently fall back down. But the reality is that they were terribly unpredictable and hazardous. According to reports, more than 150 people suffered eye injuries, broken teeth and even fractured ribs. Eventually, nearly nine million of them were recalled.
To survive playing with these dreadful little propellers, consider wearing a face shield and helmet. Remember to take them outside, as it can be more dangerous if one collides with a ceiling fan or other household objects.
Number 2: Aqua dots
With this toy, children could create amazing figures by putting small dots together and then spraying them with water. The dots were coated with a chemical that, when reacted with water, fused them together. Trouble began when the children started putting the beads in their mouths.
The chemical was 1,4-butanediol (BDO). When swallowed, it metabolized into GHB, a substance known for being a date-rape drug. Aqua Dots were directly linked to causing seizures, breathing issues, and, in extreme cases, comas. As a result, more than four million kits were recalled from stores in 2007.
In court, the company that manufactured the toy was accused of substituting the safer chemical 1,5-pentanediol for a dangerous one to save about $7,000 per metric ton. In this case, not cutting corners on the part of the manufacturer would have meant producing a toy that wouldn’t do serious harm to children.
Number 1: Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab
Released in the 1950s, this toy was intended to teach children about nuclear energy, so it included four different uranium ores. What could go wrong, right?
It also featured a Geiger Counter to measure radiation and other instruments to observe nuclear decay. The creators claimed that uranium 238, included in the kit, wasn’t able to cause a nuclear chain reaction and that the alpha particles it emitted were blocked by human skin. That was true. But what adventurous child doesn’t have open wounds here and there? This left them vulnerable to uranium entering their bloodstream. This could lead to leukemia, lung and bone cancer, and kidney damage.
Fortunately, the Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab has been shelved for decades. If you happen to come across one of these antiques, you toss on a Hazmat suit. Unfortunately, even that would not offer you full protection against the alpha particles it emits. Your best bet is to keep as much distance between you and it as possible.
This list of treacherous toys shows you that just because something looks warm and inviting doesn’t mean it can’t kill you. It’s like these cute little creatures. If you let your guard down, one of them could kill you in under 10 minutes. Want to know which one?
- “Gilbert U-238. When Atomic Power Was Experienced At Home.“. 2021. Medium.
- “Do You Need A Hazmat Suit For Radiation?“. 2022. Pksafety.Com.
- “$40 Refund Is Offered For Hair-Eating Dolls (Published 1997)“. 1997. Nytimes.Com.
- “Trial over Aqua Dots toy coated with date-rape-drug begins ” 2022. Usatoday.Com.
- “Why Sky Dancer Dolls Were Way More Dangerous Than You Thought“. 2020. Grunge.Com.
- “7 Absurdly Dangerous Toys That Your Parents And Grandparents Probably Got For Christmas“. 2020. All That’s Interesting.