Sunday, June 14, 2009

More toys from our youth that would be illegal today

After writing about the Johnny Seven One Man Army rifle (a toy from the sixties that Chuck Schumer would personally ban), I resurrected this old list. If you can think of more toys that would be completely illegal today, please let me know in the comments.

Jarts! a.k.a. "Lawn Darts." I'm not sure how many thousands of punctured limbs these things were responsible for, but the class-action lawyers must have cleaned up.

Tonka Dump Trucks: fabricated entirely from Ginsu knives by Tonka. They could slice fingers off if slightly mishandled.

Stretch Armstrong: the kind filled with jelly. If these were sold today, a hypo-allergenic, ADD nutcase would swallow the jelly, get sick, and his parents would sue the Chinese manufacturer. The entire episode would be the basis for a 20/20 special hosted by John Stossel; Nancy Grace and Greta would also devote a week of shows to the injustice.

Bow and arrows: remove the suction-cups from the ends of the arrows and -- whhoooooeeee -- you really could put an eye out; and I'm sure some kids did.

Bangsite!: evil-smelling, granular crap that came in an industrial-strength toothpaste tube -- it may have been calcium carbide. Mixing Bangsite with water made an explosive gas. Some kids had Bangsite cannons, heavy cast iron things that were relatively safe to use. Normal kids took a metal baking soda can and punched a nail hole through the bottom. This turned the can into a three-man, crew-served weapon. One kid tipped some Bangsite into the can, spat on it, jammed the lid on, and placed the can on the edge of the curb. Second kid put his foot on the can to brace it. Third kid applied the match to the nail hole. KAF---INGBOOM!!! -- with a burst of flame, the lid goes flying clear across the street. I still cannot believe that my parents knew I was doing this, and let me.

Airplane, ship and tank models: yep, we spent hours in our rooms with model glue... and our parents didn't care a bit. These days, an ambulance would be called and our rooms fumigated for a month.

Flexy Racers: a sled on wheels that was missing only one thing: brakes. These mysteriously disappeared from the market after -- I'm guessing here -- some kid rolled onto the Interstate and got pancaked by an 18-wheeler.

Wrist Rockets: basically a weapons-grade slingshot that fit around your wrist and used massive rubber tubes as the bands. The ammo was indistinguishable from a heavy ball bearing. Slightly less powerful than a .357 Magnum, and slightly more powerful than a .38.

Snow sleds with steel runners: on a decent hill, you could hit 70 MPH and some kids did, may they rest in peace.

Water-air rockets: I don't remember the brand, but this was a rocket that you filled with water and then pumped full of air. Let's just say that after a couple of hundred concussions and numerous missing teeth, it was removed from the market.

I'm sure I've missed dozens. Let me know in the comments if you can think of other noteworthy dangers from our youth.


Commenter Airedale remembers Crazy Clackers, "...a string with a golf ball sized glass marble. I use to see those things wrapped around telephone pole lines. They were ninja weapons in the wrong hands....which meant every kind of kid had the ability to give themselves permanent brain damage if they got a bit too curious with these miniature bolos."

Commenter Paul J. recalls the Kenner Mold Master (I had one of those!): "Hot soft plastic you poured into into a mold and made toy guns and vehicles. Rarely came out right but you could reuse the plastic. How many times I burned my fingers I could never say. How I didn't burn the house down who knows."

Exceller observes that a chemistry set and the ubiquitous Slip-n-Slide could be highly hazardous as well.

Update II: After a little research and Tom P.'s comment, I think I actually had a Mattel Thingmaker and not a MoldMaster.

This was a freaking hotplate that allowed you to bake goop in molds. What could possibly go wrong with 300-degree plastic goop?

Linked by: Doug Powers, who reminds us of the brilliant Irwin Mainway. Thanks!


Anonymous said...

Let's not forget the "johnny Reb" cannon that fired plastic cannon balls across the house. Also was the "Tiger Joe" tank that fired (wooden?) bullets. The tank was large enough for a little kid to sit on and control with the wired remote.

Anonymous said...

There was the "Sonic Blaster" - a pump up bazooka that shot a ball of high velocity air. It got banned after kids were losing their hearing.
There was a science kit from the '50s that had radioactive material included in the kit for kids to experiment with.
There was a pyrotechnics company in NJ, USA that would sell fireworks components through the mail. You could make a 6" x 1" firecracker (bomb?) filled with flash powder that could make some real craters in the ground. They also sold the makings for a 1/2" x 3"; a 1" x 4-1/2"; cherry bombs; M-80's, etc.
Mattel made the "Shootin' Shell" line of cap pistols and rifles that would propel a small plastic bullet across the room.
You could buy chemistry sets that came with alcohol lamps and readily available chemical replacement vials in dozens of toxic, explosive, flammable, and corrosive chemicals.
There was a chemical rocket that used little pellets of fuel. If you connected a string across the length of a football field, the rocket could cross it in less than a second.
There were wooden boomerangs, and metal tipped arrows.
There were potentially dangerous toys packaged in popular brands of kid's cereal. I remember a spring loaded rocket you could shoot across the kitchen table.

joe said...

My toy would have been ban because it had a burner and you had to know not stick your fingers on it. You also could pour hot lollipop syrup on yourself. The Lollypop Factory would be considered unsafe today.

gregor said...

Mattel Vac-U-Form... I still have scars on my fingers from that one...

Anonymous said...

I still have my tiger joe tank,with plastic shells.We used to put baby powder on the shells to get smoke when it fired.I also have the sonic blaster.We found that a styrofoam ball the right size would fly 40-50 ft when you fire it from the blaster.I'd already lost some of my hearing on one side from childhood illness,so the threat of more deafness wasn't a problem.

kcj4Tec=xas said...

I had lead soldier molds, danger on several levels: lead, molten lead, miniature bayonets, the fun just keeps coming! Still have 'em, thank you.

Anonymous said...

I must have made 100s of plastic models in my young life. I never once considered sniffing the glue because, to tell the truth, it didn't smell all that good. And my main objective was to build a 1/48 scale B-17 Flying Fortress (painted to look like the one my father flew). I didn't want it to come out looking like some alien rocket ship from a 1950s sci-fi movie.