There’s an age-old saying that goes, “They don’t make ’em like they used to.” This folksy adage can be applied to cars, music, comics, and, such is the case here, toys. As the years have gone on, the tastes of children have changed, leading to a never ending stream of new and exciting toys year after year. But while kids might always be interested in the shiniest, newest toys, there are plenty of toy lines that have managed to hang around for years. But some of the toys that have cluttered toy shelves for decades probably have no business hanging around; after all, many of these toys are so dangerous and controversial that they are practically asking to be banned.
While these toys weren’t given a second thought when they were released, society has changed as the years have gone on; things that might have been totally acceptable at one time are now considered inappropriate and hazardous. Whether it’s toys that could encourage Shaken Baby Syndrome or toys that could maul the fingers of curious children, plenty of classic toys just wouldn’t fly in this day and age. So join CBR as we take a look back through the years to bring you a definitive list of toys you played with, toys you loved, and toys you always begged for that would feel the sting of the ban hammer in 2017. These are 15 classic toys that would be banned today.
15. JIBBA JABBER
Before Jibba Jabba, kids had no way to experience the act of choking the life out of a person. But thanks to this oddball ’90s toy, kids the world over spent countless hour ringing the neck of Jibba Jabba, causing the long necked toy to let out a cartoonish ‘choking’ sounds.
Despite the violent concept, Jibba Jabber was seen as a harmless toy. But after Jibba Jabber became popular, concerns were voiced over the doll, as parents felt the toy could lead to children shaking infants. Ertl, the company responsible for Jibba Jabber, was forced to include a pamphlet with future Jibba Jabber’s, discouraging users from shaking babies. Sure, the saga of Jibba Jabber is ridiculous, but considering the backlash the toy encountered in the ’90s, there is no way Jibba Jabber would have made it to the shelves in this day and age.
14. YO-YO WATER BALLS
At initial glimpse, the Yo-Yo Water Battle looks like an innocent pool toy. Consisting of a squishy ball attached to an elastic string, the Yo-Yo Water Ball could be found in plenty of pools around the world. But with the outrage that followed this toy, we doubt the Yo-Yo Water Ball could have been released these days.
Sure, the Yo-Yo Water Ball looks totally harmless, but it was found that the elastic string could wrap around a child’s neck, serving as a potential choking hazard. Also, the toy was found to be made of a flammable material. This potentially deadly, flammable pool toy has been banned in Illinois, New Jersey and New York, but remains available everywhere else. But if Yo-Yo Water Ball had hit shelves in 2017, a harsh ban likely would have followed.
13. BAT MASTERSON DERRINGER BELT GUN
With how often kids are exposed to guns in movies, TV shows, and video games, we understand that youngsters want to their hands on firepower on their own. While debate rages on the ethical nature of providing plastic guns to impressionable children, there is one thing that both ideas can agree upon: providing kids with a toy that points a pop gun at their crotch is a terrible, terrible idea.
Released in the ’50s, the Bat Masterson Derringer Belt Gun was a plastic pop gun attached to a belt buckle, allowing kids to shoot their friends from down below, From Dusk Till Dawn style. Problem was, the gun didn’t always flip up before going off; every so often, the gun would simply shoot down, endangering the wearer’s dangly bits. A plastic gun that could potentially shoot a child? You better believe this gun would receive a swift ban if it was released in modern times.
12. ZULU BLOW GUN
Here’s a recipe for disaster: give a child a toy that requires placing the item to the mouth to blow an object out, and then count the seconds until choking ensues. This is the Zulu Blow Gun in a nutshell. Rising to popularity among children back in the ’50s, the Zulu Blow Gun allowed kids to shoot harmless foam pellets at each other. Problem is, the Zulu Blow Gun requires a mighty gust of breath to launch its projectile.
Thus, kids would often breathe in too deeply, which could cause the projectile to be inhaled, potentially leading to death. The Zulu Blow Gun is seen as so dangerous that it has been outright banned in the United Kingdom, but the toy remains widely available in the States. With anti-gun sentiments at an all time high, there’s no way the Zulu Blow Gun would have gotten a pass if released in 2017.
11. MISSILE FIRING BOBA FETT
Boba Fett! The coolest of the cool! With his rad mask, his awesome jet pack, and his cool, calm personality, Boba Fett became one of the coolest characters in the Star Wars universe just by showing up. So when it came time to make a toy for the Mandalorian, the stakes were high: after all, how do you capture the pure, unadulterated cool of Boba Fett? Easy: give him a sweet missile firing backpack!
While Missile Firing Boba Fett was a hit when he was released as a promo figure in 1979, Kenner quickly encountered a big issue: the rocket fired from Boba’s back had a nasty habit of flying into kids’ mouths, causing choking. The figure was quickly pulled, but was never formally banned. This fan favorite figure fetches big bucks these days, but Missile Firing Boba Fett would have received a swift ban if it had been released in 2017.
10. RUBBER BAND GUN
It’s been established that kids can’t be trusted with blow guns or crotch pistols; but what about a hunk of wood designed to fling harmless rubber bands? In the hands of children, the Rubber Band Gun became an eye-ruining, welt-causing nightmare.
Since debuting all the way back in 1845, the Rubber Band Gun has allowed kids the world over to chuck rubber bands at sensitive extremities. While the Rubber Band Gun is traditionally found as a standard pistol, manufacturers have pumped out crossbow, assault rifle, and even sniper rifle rubber band gun variations. Problem is, with the high velocity at which the bands are hurled, the possibility of injury is high. While Rubber Band Guns remains widely available, these dangerous little toys would surely have lawyers frothing at the mouth if released today.
9. SPARKING WHEELER
Here’s a terrible idea: take an action figure, put a fire starting flint in its chest, and then put that action figure on toy shelves around the world. This is exactly what happened when the Captain Planet and the Planeteers toy line released the Sparking Wheeler action figure.
Released at the height of Captain Planet’s popularity, this figure allowed kids the world over to play with a plastic recreation of Wheeler, the fire controlling Planeteer. To capture Wheeler’s fire throwing abilities, the figure included an internal contraption, which, when activated by turning a wheel on the figure’s back, caused the figure to spark, allowing the figure to start fires. Somehow, no one realized that a toy that could cause fires was an awful idea, and the toy was never recalled. But there is no way such a dangerous toy could have made it to shelves in this day and age.
8. MOON SHOES
The appeal of Moon Shoes is obvious: after all, these shoes allow children to strap mini trampolines to their feet and bounce their little hearts out. It’s like having a portable trampoline! But much like a trampoline, the potential for injury with Moon Shoes is high. Indeed, with every bounce, kids could bound ever closer to a broken limb and/or neck, depending on said child’s natural jumping ability and devil-may-care approach to play.
As Moon Shoes allow kids to achieve major hang time, its the landing that proves problematic. At their height of popularity in the ’90s, Moon Shoes led to plenty of scraped knees, broken wrists, and generally unpleasant injuries. Kids can barely be trusted with trampolines, so portable trampoline shoes are a recipe for disaster.
7. AQUA DOTS
Toys oftentimes have the pesky habit of being used for something other than their intended use; famously, a Captain Crunch whistle was used to get free calls from pay phones back in the day. But the Aqua Dots have a much worse use than a couple free phone calls; you see, it was discovered that Aqua Dots could be used as a date rape drug.
It was found that the little crafting beads contained a compound which, if ingested, would break down into GHB, a popular date rape drug that causes unconsciousness and a foggy memory. The toy was quickly recalled by its Chinese manufacturer, but Aqua Dots have never been formally banned. Considering this is a kids toy that can be used to cause truly heinous crimes, we have no doubt that Aqua Dots would have been banned if released in 2017 — and rightfully so.
A bored toy executive somewhere probably saw a jump rope, leaned back in his chair, thought long and hard, and decided this age old toy wasn’t nearly dangerous enough. Thus, the Skip-It was born! Gaining popularity in the ’80s, the concept of the Skip-It was simple: take a jump rope, shrink it significantly, stick an unforgiving plastic ball to the end, and strap it to the leg of a not-particularly-coordinated child.
Needless to say, the Skip-It lead to plenty of scraped hands and knees, the occasional broken wrist, and countless black-and-blue bruises from the surprisingly heavy plastic ball. Skip-It remains widely available, but considering the reputation this toy has for child injuries, we don’t doubt that the Skip-It would have been ban hammered if released these days.
5. SOCK ‘EM BOPPERS
On paper, the Sock ‘Em Boppers sound like a solid idea for a toy: give kids inflatable gloves that would allow them to bop and sock each other to their hearts content, all without having to worry about injury. But the Sock ‘Em Boppers didn’t quite work out this way: in fact, the seemingly harmless Sock ‘Em Boppers actually hurt like hell.
Gaining popularity in the ’90s, these glorified padded boxing gloves encouraged children to wallop each other, leading to bruises and black eyes a-plenty. Parents rallied against the toy, finding issue with the fact that the toy essentially encouraged children to fist fight. Sock ‘Em Boppers still exist, and they’re still just as painful as you remember. In today’s more progressive society, we have no doubt in our mind that the Sock ‘Em Boppers would have been banned.
4. SKY DANCERS
Sky Dancers sound so innocent on paper: kids take a pretty doll, place the doll on a special platform, and launch them into the air, marveling as their Sky Dancer glides gracefully through the air. But in reality, the Sky Dancers were eye-threatening, bruise-causing nightmares.
Releasing in the mid ’90s, the Sky Dancers promised to be a breakout toy, with a tie-in cartoon and merchandising galore. Problem is, the little foam wings the Sky Dancers were outfitted with were far from safe; a well placed wallop from one of those wings could cause black eyes, welts, and nasty bruises. And considering that Sky Dancers had a nasty habit of flying just about face level, injuries were commonplace, with manufacturer Galoob reporting over 100 injuries. The toys were recalled but never formally banned; however, if Sky Dancers were to dance their way back onto toy shelves these days, a swift ban would surely follow.
3. SLAP BRACELETS
A toy that features “slap” prominently in the name doesn’t exactly elicit mental images of a safe toy. But this didn’t stop Slap Bracelets from gaining worldwide popularity back in the ’90s, with every child on the playground sporting a Slap Bracelet proudly. Problem is, Slap Bracelets had a nasty habit of being downright dangerous.
As Slap Bracelets contained a stainless steel spring band, the bracelet had the potential to do some serious damage. Welts would develop from Slap Bracelets that were slapped a little too hard, and the band could deliver nasty cuts if the steel interior was exposed. Plenty of schools banned the popular toy, but a nationwide ban never followed. But there are plenty of ’90s kid left with nasty scars courtesy of Slap Bracelets that could attest that a ban on this toy wouldn’t be the worst idea.
2. SNACKTIME CABBAGE PATCH KID
Toy companies have churned out plenty of gimmicky dolls over the years: dolls that cry, dolls that talk, and dolls that pee have all graced toy shelves over the years. So when a Cabbage Patch Kid that children could feed was announced, people hardly batted an eye. However, the Snacktime Cabbage Patch Kid would go down in history as one of the most dangerous toys to ever be released.
The Snacktime Cabbage Patch Kid housed a series of plastic rollers in its mouth, which would allow kids to “feed” the doll, which would push food back via the rollers. Problem is, the doll had no way of differentiating between plastic food and, say, a child’s finger or hair. Thus, the doll developed a reputation of munching on hair and mangling fingers, leading to the doll being yanked from shelves. The Snacktime doll remains widely available on the second hand market, having never received a proper ban, but we have no doubt that this crazy dangerous toy would have been slapped with a ban if released these days.
1. HARRY POTTER VIBRATING NIMBUS 2000
Hoo boy, did the vibrating Nimbus 2000 cause an uproar when it released back in 2003. At a glance, this Harry Potter toy seemed totally innocuous; after all, it was just a recreation of Harry’s famous broomstick. But then it came to light that the toy was delighting fans in a totally unexpected place: between the sheets. Bow chika wow wow.
That’s right, the vibrating toy was quickly labeled as a glorified sex toy. Mattel initially saw no problem with the toy, but when the Nimbus 2000 began popping up in adult stores, the toy was quickly recalled. The toy has yet to receive a proper ban, but if the Nimbus 2000 had hit shelves in 2017, the toy would have been banned quicker than you could say “Expecto patronum.”
Can you think of any other classic toys that wouldn’t fly today? Let us know in the comments!
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