There seems to be a toy that defines every generation, toys that bring a smile to your face and tons of childhood memories when you mention them. Maybe you had a comfortable childhood with your choice of toys. Maybe your parents or grandparents struggled to make ends meet to give you the toy you always wanted.
Regardless of your background, once you become a parent, you suddenly want to do more and provide more for your child than your parents did for you. Part of that is through buying toys - educational toys, toys for their birthday, toys for Christmas, toys just because you love them!
While we shop online for the best deals or on our weekly Target run, we buy toys for our kids without hardly giving their safety a second thought. We expect that manufacturers have done their part in creating toys that have passed safety tests and contain no dangerous parts or hazardous chemicals.
Yet even though both toy companies and governments have strict standards, sometimes failures slip through the cracks and faulty toys make it to store shelves. Some faulty toys are recalled and remade, and others are banned from store shelves completely, becoming the stuff of urban legends. After reading about these 15 toys now banned in the US, you will definitely think twice about buying this year’s most popular toys for Christmas!
15CSI Is Only Allowed On TV
Like many of the banned toys on this list, the CSI Fingerprint Examination Kit released in 2005 was a way to get young kids interested in the sciences. Eventually they’d be inspired to become a forensic examiner like on CSI or purse a career in a related field. There’s nothing wrong with that. The problem with this set is that it -surprise- contained a banned material.
The dust used to check for fingerprint contained asbestos. Enough asbestos to cause cancer in life. The presence of this dangerous material obviously resulted in a recall, but only after a class action lawsuit was filed because the makers were slow to react to public outcry.
It looks like there should be a rule that adults need to test out toys before putting them on the market. Maybe then toy manufacturers will take children's lives more seriously.
14The Kinder Violation
Ferrero, the Italian chocolate company that gave us Nutella, Ferrero Rocher, and even Tic Tacs is responsible for one of the most famously banned toys in the US: Kinder Surprise. A Kinder Surprise is an hollow, egg-shaped chocolate that has inside of it a plastic capsule containing a collectible mini toy.
Since 1974, The Kinder Surprise has a fan base of both children and adults in its home country of Italy as well as all over the world. But what exactly makes the Kinder Surprise so dangerous?
The Kinder Surprise violates the 1938 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act which clearly states that confectioneries must not contain a “non nutritive object” that does not have a purpose. The toys are banned in the US, but in other countries, they are simply labeled as "not suitable for children under three years, due to the presence of small parts.
13Easy Bake Oven - Too Hot To Handle
Easy Bake Ovens went above and beyond imagination and gave little girls a chance to be pastry chefs and bakers using actual ingredients. Easy Bake Ovens aren’t the first functional stoves for children, but Easy Bake Ovens revolutionized kitchen toys for little girls because it used only a light bulb as its heat source.
The only problem is that even when using a single light bulb, temperatures inside the oven reached 350 degrees Fahrenheit inside the oven. This, of course, resulted in young hands getting burned or worse. In addition, little hands and fingers often got caught in the oven’s opening, resulting in injuries nationwide.
Despite several re-designs, the Easy Bake Oven has been recalled numerous times. The most recent redesign was in 2011, after changes in US federal law placed restrictions on the use of incandescent light bulbs. Let’s hope that the most recent redesign is safe!
12The Cabbage Patch Doll Who's Always Hungry
Before Rihanna and Chrissy Teigen became the wig snatching queens of Twitter, little girls across the US became the hairless victims of Snacktime Cabbage Patch Kids. What sounded like a good idea on the corporate boardroom floor turned into tragedy in 1996. A very hyped, must-have Christmas present, the dolls had a powerful, battery-operated jaw that was supposed to eat plastic food. For some reason, the dolls did not have an on/off switch, so kids would end up with fingers, hair, and skin caught in the mouth with no way of being able to stop it! Nearly half a million were recalled not before plenty of little girls had their edges snatched from them, leaving some with bald spots and obviously traumatized.
11Beads With A Dangerous Coating
This super creative craft kit was extremely popular in 2007. Children simply arranged colorful beads in a design on a plastic tray and sprayed a bit of water, resulting in unique 3-D art when the beads dried. Pretty harmless fun, right?
The problem with Aqua Dots is that the beads were actually coated with a chemical that turned into GHB, also commonly known as the “date-rape” drug. This chemical reaction was not discovered until 9 children in the US and 3 in Australia became seriously ill after swallowing the beads. Afterwards, some 4 million Aqua Bead kits around the world were recalled. A year later, the ingredients for the beads were changed, and Aqua Dots are now sold as Beados.
10Pregnant Barbie Is Kicked Off The Shelf
No, this isn’t an urban legend. Mattel actually sold a pregnant doll in the early 2000s, and she was Barbie’s friend, Midge. Mattel intended Midge to go to families expecting the arrival of a new baby because Midge came in her box “pregnant” with newborn baby Nikki. Customers complained that Midge had no wedding ring and that a pregnant doll promoted teen pregnancy.
Midge was actually a part of a “Happy Family” set that also included her husband and their 3 year old son, so it’s not like she was some unwed and knocked up teen mom. Still, public resistance was too much for Mattel to handle, and Midge was removed from shelves. Later, she was reintroduced to the public, only not pregnant and her husband and son were included as cardboard cutouts in her box.
9Yo-Yo Balls Are A Serious No-No
Yo-Yo balls became popular around 2002 and are inexpensive and colorful balls made from a stretchy, sticky material. They are sold by different names and shapes but are all dangerous. Although kids love these toys, the sticky cord can wrap around a child's neck, causing strangulation. According to experts, anything over 6 inches is a choking hazard. But, Yo-Yo Balls can be stretched up to 6 feet.
Because the cord is sticky, once it wraps around itself, it’s extremely difficult remove, resulting in near-fatal experiences for far too many children. Out of the more than 400 injuries reported, 75% of them are related to suffocation/strangulation.
Yo-Yo Balls are banned in several countries including the UK, Canada, and France. As for the US, only Illinois, New Jersey and New York have passed laws banning their sale. Ebay also refuses to allow them to be sold on its site.
8The Nestle Magic Ball
To put it bluntly, Nestle Magic Ball is pretty much a blatant rip-off of Kinder Surprise. Nestle didn’t even try to hide the fact that they copied an existing idea. The only thing they managed to change was instead of adding a nondescript toy, Nestle partnered with Disney to include a Disney character toy inside their ball. How innovative.
Unsurprisingly, the FDA warned Nestle that including a toy inside a food product was in fact illegal. Nestle, however, decided to go on with their product launch. What resulted later was a bit of a messy back and forth between Nestle and the FDA. Even Nestle’s rival, Mars, got in on it. Eventually, Nestle was forced to take Nestle Magic off the shelves, resulting in another banned toy that frequently gets smuggled into the US.
7Fly Away Sky Dancers
Sky Dancers were princess-like ballerina dolls that flew into the air with the pull of a string. Their large, foam wings spun around like a propeller, cutting swiftly through the air with nothing to stop them. You either had to duck out of the way or wait until they bumped into a wall, your eye, your sister’s head, your grandmother’s expensive vase… You might as well file this one under “Recalled Toys That Even Stevie Wonder Saw Coming,” because these are so obviously dangerous.
Sky Dancers were sold between 1994 and 2000 until they were recalled. In the 6 years that they were on the market, Sky Dancers caused nearly 200 injuries. Some of the injuries caused by these toys included eye injuries like scratched corneas and temporary blindness, broken teeth, concussions, broken bones, and facial lacerations. Ouch!
6Creepy Crawlers - Now Crawling Away From Toy Stores
If Easy Bake Ovens gave girls the opportunity to be creative with sugar, spice and everything nice, Creepy Crawlers allowed boys to be boys and make bug like creations.
Creepy Crawlers came out in 1964 with metal molds and colorful "Plastigoop," a liquid, plastic chemical. You pour Plastigoop into the mold, heat it in the oven and when the mold cooled you got your “creepy crawlers.” While Creepy Crawlers could be seen as the boys’ answer to Easy Bake Ovens, they could also be seen as more dangerous. Who thought it would be a good idea to let children play with unknown chemicals, hot, metal molds, and an oven that reached dangerously high temperatures?
Creepy Crawlers were shelved, then re-released in 1978 with a different type of Plastigoop and plastic molds. They were taken off the shelves again until they were brought back in the early 1990s with stricter safety regulations.
5How To Make A Bomb Is Never A Good Idea
You don’t need a nuclear physicist to tell you that putting radioactive materials in a kids’ toy isn’t a good idea. But there must not have been enough nuclear physicists to go around in 1950, because this toy somehow made it to store shelves just in time for Christmas.
Produced by A. C. Gilbert Company, the U-238 Atomic Energy Lab promised to instill a love of the sciences in young boys and girls and create a nation of scientists. There’s nothing wrong with a love of science - except the lab set included 4 samples of radioactive material!
Fortunately for millions of boys and girls, this toy never caught on, only selling 5,000 or so units between 1950 and 1951. Even then, it:s shocking to know that someone's grandmother or grandfather has fond childhood memories of playing with the world’s most dangerous toy.
4Bye Bye Flubber
At first glance, Flubber looks like the homemade slime that is currently trending on YouTube and Instagram. This silvery, stretchy toy, was created by Hasbro to mark the release of the Disney movie, Son of Flubber, a sequel to The Absent-Minded Professor
Flubber sold quickly, as boys and girls all over the US wanted to get their hands on the silvery substance featured heavily in the films. The only problem with Flubber was that makers forgot to test out their product before selling it. The synthetic rubber caused rashes, sore throats, and general illness in practically anyone who touched it. The materials were so problematic that Hasbro even had difficulty disposing of the toxic stuff. Flubber couldn’t be burned nor would sink in water! It all goes to show that a little quality control goes a very long way.
3Breaking Bad Fans Will Be Disappointed
Seriously? A glass blowing set aimed at kids? Let’s just go ahead and make a meth lab kit for kids while we're at it, since clearly no one at these toy companies is thinking about marketing their products to actual children.
The head of A.C. Gilbert wanted to get young boys interested in the sciences. He thought that the best way to do this way through various educational sets like a molten lead casting kit, a chemistry set full of highly dangerous chemicals, an atomic energy lab, and this glass blowing set.
This glass blowing set came out in the early 1920s and provided all the materials needed to make glass and more in an extremely detailed 65 page instruction booklet. Boys were instructed to use alcohol lamps to heat tubes and blow glass bubbles to ultimately create unique science projects. Curious children and open flames - What could possibly go wrong?
2The Shattering Clackers
You might be familiar with the brightly colored plastic version of this toy, which has a handle with grips and two triangles with balls at the end. They’re annoying, but harmless fun. The original clackers that came out in the 1960s did more than annoy, though. Two large, translucent, balls were attached to a piece of string. You hold the string so that the balls swing apart and hit each other, making the clacking sound.
The problem with this toy is that unskilled users would hit themselves in the face or in the eye. Even skilled users were in danger as the impact of the balls hitting each other was so fierce that they would break and shatter. This, of course, resulted in injuries for the players and people surrounding them.
Javelin darts, or Jarts, or lawn darts, work just as you imagine they would. They’re basically like the darts you’d find at a bar, except they’re a foot long. An accident waiting to happen. And unfortunately, an accident did happen: in April 1987, a 7 year old girl named Michelle Snow passed away from complications brought on by a lawn dart injury.
The thing is, lawn darts were already illegal in the US during the 1970s. It’s just that the law was reversed to allow their sale as long as they were not explicitly advertised as toys for children. Michelle's heartbroken father, David Snow, took it upon himself to get lawn darts banned completely in the US. During the investigation by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, it was found that more than 6,000 people were injured by lawn darts. Eventually, lawn darts were banned in the US.
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