The most dangerous toys ever made

You could be forgiven for thinking that we’re all living in a society overrun by ludicrous health and safety regulations. But if you needed evidence of why we’ve ended up wrapped in red tape, then the best place to start is with the humble toy – and how lethal they can be. Many have either been pulled from shelves, recalled in their thousands, or out-and-out banned; and in hindsight you are forced to gawp at the sheer ignorance involved in their release onto an unsuspecting world – like our first example…

atomic toy article

Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab

When? 1951-1952
What? The ultimate educational set to teach kids how to get the most out of, erm, uranium.
It did what?!? This $50 (about £440 in today’s money) science kit featured four lots of uranium ore for your beloved sprog to dabble with. To ensure that these weren’t duds, you could use the Geiger counter included to measure the ore’s radioactivity and order more uranium using a coupon. And to round out the experience, a book entitled ‘Prospecting for Uranium’ was included, with details of a US government initiative that paid $10,000 (equivalent to almost £90,000 today) if little Jimmy discovered any uranium deposits in the garden.

lawn darts

Lawn Darts

When? Circa 1950s-1988
What? A popular American garden game that saw players throw large darts up into the air, hoping to land them in a circular target to score points.
It did what?!? Said darts were big, heavy and had sharp metal tips. While they were banned from US toy departments and stores in 1970, and featured labels telling parents to keep them away from children, the darts were inevitably still finding their way into the hands (and heads) of overenthusiastic kids. After an estimated 6,100 injuries, and the deaths of two children, lawn darts were finally banned in their metal-pointed form in the USA.

aqua dots

Aqua Dots/Bindeez

When? 2007
What? An arts and crafts set that lets kids make designs out of small beads, and then ‘glue’ them together with a simple spray of water.
It did what?!? A massive-selling product (and Australia’s toy of the year 2007), a harmless glue compound was supposed to be used to coat the beads.
However, it was reported in 2007 that in some cases the wrong compound was applied during manufacture, and instead the affected beads were coated in a toxic chemical that, once ingested by a child, could produce the same effects as taking the date-rape drug GHB; cue children in the US and Australia starting to suffer appalling symptoms, in some case falling into comas.
Thankfully all the tiny tots fully recovered, and the toys were pulled from shelves – over 4 million from America alone. After a long hiatus for re-testing, and some strict revisions to the chemicals used, the product was renamed and re-released in 2008.

sky dancer

Sky Dancer

When? 2000
What? A flying doll that kids could shoot up into the air using the doll’s launcher.
It did what?!? Unfortunately, said doll had a horrible habit of being “unpredictable” once airborne, happily flying its way into wide-eyed adults and children alike, causing a reported 150 injuries, including one broken rib, some temporary blindness and facial lacerations.
Nearly nine million Sky Dancers were recalled in 2000 because of the doll’s kamikaze tendencies.