While there may be a few toys that make the news each year because of a loose button or the lack of a “choking hazard” label, the vast majority of modern toys are perfectly safe for your kids to play with. On the other hand, there are a few infamously unsafe playthings that flew under the radar that have sent thousands of children to the hospital or worse…
5. Sky Dancers & Dragon Flyz: The “Most Dangerous Toy” I’ve Owned!
The concept of these toys was super-simple: You’d hold the plastic launcher with one hand, point the doll on top upward, and pull the string to launch the sparkly Sky Doll or scaly Dragon Warrior spinning high into the air. You’d watch the figure slowly twirl down to the ground with its soft foam wings, and then it’d be time to dart off to the other side of the yard, load it into the launcher, and do it all over again. They were fun! I’d know because I had the red “Dreadwing” dragon model myself when I was a kid!
Good thing I listened to my mom when she told me to play with it outside, as the Consumer Product Safety Commission ended up declaring that Sky Dolls, the sister product to Galoob’s Dragon Flyz toys, was an unsafe toy in 2000. 8.9 million Sky Dancers were recalled because the hard plastic dolls “can fly rapidly in unpredictable directions, and can hit and injure both children and adults.” The recall details how much unexpectedly dangerous the frilly pastel-colored dolls were:
Galoob® has received 170 reports of the dolls striking children and adults resulting in 150 reports of injuries. They include eye injuries, including scratched corneas and incidents of temporary blindness, broken teeth, a mild concussion, a broken rib, and facial lacerations that required stitches.
It may be because the Dragon Flyz weren’t nearly as popular as their girly counterpart, but I can’t find anything about my crimson dragon launcher being nearly as scary as those Sky Dolls were…
4. Cabbage Patch Snacktime Kids
This otherwise normal, soft and squishy doll’s main selling feature was the ability to consume plastic foods with its motorized mouth. Sadly, this monstrosity doesn’t come with an off switch, and there were several horrific cases where the doll inadvertently began to munch on a little girl’s hair, and before she knew it, the mechanisms would end up ripping out a portion of her scalp.
— 🏳️🌈 Cara Santa Maria 🏳️🌈 (@CaraSantaMaria) October 1, 2017
I should’ve picked up a set of this popular desk toy when I had the chance because the CPSC website notes:
It is illegal under federal law for any person to sell, offer for sale, manufacture, distribute in commerce, or import into the United States any Buckyballs or Buckycubes magnetic set.
Why? At least 54 children and teenagers consumed the small spheres, which would end up ripping holes through sections of their digestive systems as the powerful magnetic pieces pulled themselves back together. Even though Buckyballs have been discontinued for years, cases of kids ingesting them still pop up from time to time, like the recent case above where a toddler consumed a chain of 28 Buckyballs.
2. Slip ‘N Slide
Wait, please read the whole section before you freak out and toss your kid’s Slip ‘N Slide away! This ultra-popular summertime toy has been an American classic since WHAM-O released it in 1961, and if set up properly, it is a safe and entertaining way for little kids to cool off in hot weather under adult supervision.
The problem is when teens and grown-ups think, “Hey, this five-year-old is having a blast on that thing- I want to try it next!” Seriously, enough people who are far too big to play with a Slip ‘N Slide suffered neck injuries, quadriplegia, or paraplegia upon throwing themselves onto a slick strip of wet plastic, that the CPSC had to put out an official warning to remind us all that the little baby toy is for little babies. Don’t put yourself into a wheelchair for the rest of your life because you wanted to slide on the baby toy.
1. Lawn Darts: The Most Dangerous Toy of Them All!
— Mickey Yarber (The Retro Rambler) (@yesterdayville) August 31, 2017
This formerly popular outdoor game has been banned from being sold in the United States since December 1988, and it only took thousands of children getting severely injured to get lawn darts permanently pulled from store shelves. More specifically, David Snow led the charge to ban the game after buying a volleyball set that included some bonus lawn darts. Although he had set up the volleyball net and left the box of lawn darts in the garage, his nine-year-old son discovered the darts and took them into the backyard to play with some of his neighborhood friends.
Before I go on, I should mention that “lawn darts” were essentially a large weighted dull metal spike on one end, with a brightly colored plastic grip on the other. The goal was to set out plastic rings on your lawn, throw the lawn darts upward in an underhand motion so they would arc down and plunge into the grassy area inside of a ring, and the player with the most points at the end won the game.
Sadly, one of the kids threw a lawn dart over the fence where Snow’s seven-year-old daughter was playing with her dolls. The hefty metal dart punctured her skull, and she passed away three days later. Snow soon launched a campaign directed at the Consumer Products Safety Commission but soon found out that lawn darts were already banned unless the packaging noted that the game was intended for adults only. Snow pushed the group to look into how dangerous lawn darts actually were, as he had personally learned of at least 24 instances where people were injured by the bulky darts.
The commission went back to reinvestigate lawn dart related injuries and confirmed that over 6,100 people were sent to the hospital within an eight-year period. The product was banned from being sold nationwide that next year. Many hospitalized kids suffered severe puncture wounds to the eyes, ears, and face, and several others died from their injuries.
While you can’t buy a set of lawn darts from any store in the US or Canada, (even online retailers like eBay will go out of their way to remove listings for lawn darts) the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has a stern warning for anyone who comes upon a set of these oversized darts:
CPSC banned lawn darts in 1988, but some of these dangerous products may still be in garages, basements, or second-hand stores. Parents should destroy these banned lawn darts immediately.
Don’t worry too much if this story freaked you out, parents. Feel free to check the official CPSC website for the latest list of recalled products before going Christmas or birthday shopping. If buying toys gets to be overly stressful, just buy your kids some harmless videogames so you’ll know that they’re parked safely in front of the TV.