According to the latest figures from the US, one child is treated in their emergency rooms every three minutes from a toy-related injury. The category of injuries from poorly designed toys is truly horrifying, causing things like chemical poisoning, broken bones, choking, asphyxiation, burns, cuts, bruises, severe eye and head injuries.
Despite in recent times stringent legislation and regulations regarding toy safety having been brought out across the world,evidence clearly shows TRI (Toy Related Injuries) is on the increase.
And though there has been many prosecutions, countless seizures and numerous recalls of these dangerous toys, children are regularly maimed or even dying because of them.
With the global market being estimated to be worth a whooping $90 Billion a year and the rise of internet shopping, means parent’s have to be more vigilant than ever before when it comes to buying that special toy for their little ones.
So here are some examples of toys that have in the past been sold that are dangerous, some even being potentially lethal.
And it may surprise you that some of these toys are still on sale today……
Hannah Montana Popstar Card Game
The Toxic Rock Star!
‘Hannah Montana’ was a hit Disney TV show about a young girl who was by day just a normal student, but at night was secretly a world famous rock star! So it came as a shock when in 2007, it was discovered that the ‘Hannah Montana Popstar Card Game’ contained more than 75 times the legal limit of lead allowed in a product! Lead is highly poisonous and the human body has a hard time breaking it down. Oddly, the authorities could not demand a recall of the product due to a technicality. As the lead was found to be in the vinyl coating of the cards and not in the paint itself, something that was not against US regulations at the time.
Yeti Soft Toy
The Yeti: Cute but Deadly?
In 2019 it was finally proven Yetis do actually exist as they started to pop up all over homes across America! This soft cuddly toy by Douglas Company Incorporated was designed for children two years and upwards. The only problem is its white long, fiber-like hair can easily become detached and therefore pose a real chocking hazard to young children. Despite concerns raised by W.A.T.C.H (World Against Toys Causing Harm), this 9 inch toy is still on sale (2020).
A Deadly Bargain!
No matter how tempting it is to get a half price knock-off Teletubby or Barbie from some shady market stall, it is rarely worth it considering the risk they can pose to your children. For few of these products ever comply to any of the safety standards and are often damn right dangerous. Some contain poisonous toxic materials, while others had hidden sharp edges and worryingly many pose choking or strangulation hazards to young children due to loose parts. For instance during Christmas of 2018, Cambridgeshire Trading Standards in the UK seized 1,000 cheap Teddy Bears that had little eyes and noses that could easily detach and posed a real danger to small children.
Your Feet are made for Walking!
Let’s face it, the Hoverboard was a crazy that never quite took off despite all the hype. Probably because they were so hard to master. After many bruises and a few broken bones, a lot of people started to wonder what was so wrong with walking that it needed to be replaced with such a dangerous and awkward device? Especially, when a good quality hoverboard can cost you in excess of $200! And worse is yet to come, Segway has now introduced an electric Hoovershoes called the ‘Ninebot Drift’.
Vicious Flying Fairies!
The Galoob Incorporated brought out the supposedly graceful ‘Sky Dancers’ toys, that were meant to give the illusion of fairies flying magically through the sky. You achieved this by simply pulling on a cord and it sent a fairy princess spinning through the air, her wings outstretched rotating frantically as she did so. The reality was it would crash into some unsuspecting child; often leaving them with cuts, eye injuries and broken teeth. Hardly creating a magical childhood memory to cherish forever more.
Tightrope Practicing Kit
The Walk of Doom?
Ever been tempted to learn tightrope walking in the comfort of your own backyard with no safety net, proper supervision or prior training? Well, now you can with the ‘Slackers Slackline Extreme Adventure Kit!’ It does come with an extra line to use as a hand held training device, but it is awkward and cumbersome. So despite concerns that it is not appropriate for young children, the manufacturers say it is suitable for children five years and above, it has nevertheless been available widely online since 2017.
Jetts Rear Wheeled Roller Skates With Real Sparks
Feet on Fire!
Razor added to their range of Jett rear wheeled roller skates, one with a sparking feature. This is activated when you push the heel down as you are traveling along, leaving a trail of sparks as you go. This happens because at the back they have replaceable spark pads . Apart from the obvious fire risk this poses when you go over combustible material, they just do not look and feel safe, and make the most irritating screeching sound of any toy imaginable! Though on the company website the product has had a grand total of five reviews in the last two years, all highly favourable.
The Alien Wiggle Toy
What is the one thing you think this Alien visitor could give you? Maybe world peace, an end to all diseases or possibly a power source that created endless clean energy? If you said any of these, well you would be wrong, in fact it be E.coli (Food Poisoning)! As test by Trading Standards in Aberdeen, Scotland found in the toy’s high level of the dangerous bacteria in the Alien Wiggle Toy’s gel outer coating. It was thought to have occurred when contaminated water was used during the manufacturing process. The toy was promptly recalled.
Fruit Head Dolls
When Fruit can be Deadly for you!
So very cute are the Fruit Head dolls, with adorable fruit shape heads. Coming in wholesome strawberry, apple, tomato or blackcurrant (yes a tomato is technically a fruit as it has seeds!). But it turned out they contained high levels of a chemical that can cause cancer, as well as possible deformity in unborn children. So its not surprising that local authorities in the UK and the rest of Europe confiscated all the stock of this toy and banned any further sale of it.
Colonial Viper Spaceship
Sad History in the Making!
This product is a landmark toy for all the wrong reasons. For back in 1978 the giant toy corporation Mattel brought out the ’Colonial Viper Spaceship’ to capitalize on the recent success of the TV show ‘Battlestar Galactica‘. Excitedly, its special feature was it fired tiny pellets that meant to simulate laser fire. Well, the inevitable quickly happened when a young child choked on one of the pellets he had accidentally shot into his mouth. Mattel was subsequently successfully sued and toy manufacturers across the world were then made to put choke hazard warning signs on all their products that contained detachable small parts.
CSI: Fingerprint Examination Kit
What possibly could be dangerous about such a harmless and educational toy? Especially when it is endorsed by the much beloved and respected TV show? It even is responsible enough to have a choke hazard warning sticker, as it contains many small parts. What it failed to notice or mention is the powder used for dusting for fingerprints, contained high levels of Tremolite. This is a type of asbestos that can cause cancer and some very nasty disabling chest diseases. The product was hurriedly recalled and the manufacturer went bankrupt over the whole fiasco.
The Flybar's Pogo Trick Board
What Goes Up, can come Crashing Down!
This is basically a large bouncing ball with a board attached to either side of it. It turned out to be as dangerous and unstable as it looks. Almost impossible to master and even with protective gears on; like knee and elbow pads, helmets and gloves still numerous amounts of kids were getting hurt by it. So much so, that some US hospitals even were issuing warnings against children using this toy. W.A,T.C.H (World Against Toys Causing Harm) is critical of the product saying: ”Despite the manufacturer’s warning to wear a helmet and other “protective gear”, only two of the three children shown on the packaging are wearing helmets, and none are using other protective items”.
Realistic Toy Guns
Bang, Bang. You are Dead!
Police officers have a hard enough time making split second decisions without the added complication that the realistic gun a kid is carrying may well be just a toy. There have been several instances where children have been shot by mistake because law enforcement officers thought the toy gun they were carrying was real. But on the other hand, the Police have on occasions, hesitated not being sure if the youngster is holding a real weapon or not and this has resulted in a loss of life. For example the water balloon firing gun made by the US company, Anstoy. It is virtually impossible to tell the difference between that and a real sub-machine gun.
Nickelodeon Frozen Treats Slime Kit
A Cup of Yummy Noxious Poison anyone?
What was Nickelodeon thinking when they endorsed the ‘Frozen Treats Slime Kit’, that makes realistic looking ice cream that could be served up in snow cones to play with and enjoy (though not eaten). Though the packaging clearly warns this product contains harmful chemicals, is not real food and is not to be eaten. They then go and add to the fake ice cream such enticing scents like mint chocolate and berry smoothie. What six year old (or adult for that matter) is not going to be tempted to take a bite and unwittingly risk a trip to the local hospital!
When a Toy is not a Toy
Household Items can unwittingly make Deadly Toys!
Parents can often forget that as people we know what is a toy and what obviously not. But young children often have yet to learn that common sense. For instance the author of this article when left unattended in the car as a child, decided to play with the car’s electronic cigarette lighter. Out of curiosity he unwittingly stuck his finger inside the lighter socket. It took about a week for his finger tip to heal. This is not an uncommon scenario, but sometimes this can end more tragically. In January 2019, three children in Florida died when playing hide and seek. They had hid in a disused freezer and died of suffocation when they became trapped inside. So remember, if you have young kids, consider that certain everyday items that are left around the house could pose a real threat to the children if they decide to innocently play with them.
Old Public & School Playgrounds
Harmful to your Children’s Health, but so much Fun!
Maybe today’s public and school playgrounds are far too risk adverse, with their wholesome educational themed padded rides placed on rubber impact coated surfaces. The old playgrounds were no doubt more exciting and thrilling, but equally much more damaging to your child’s health with their hard metal frames, many perched far too high above the ground with hard tarmac directly below them. You would be lucky to come away with just a cut knee and a few cuts and bruises. This all changed in the US (and a lot of countries followed their lead) with the first publication of ‘A Handbook for Public Playground Safety’. This looked at why 200,000 American children were going to ER each year due to playground related injuries and what could be done to prevent this. Now playgrounds are safer than ever, but the old style ones were sooooo much more fun!
Snacktime Cabbage Patch Kid
Another mis-step by the giant Mattel Corporation, was when they brought out in the Christmas of 1996 the ‘Snacktime Cabbage Patch Kid’, in an ill thought-out attempt to revive the Cabbage Patch Kid craze of the 1980’s. The cute idea was you would feed it specially provided plastic food (french-fries, carrot sticks etc) and rollers in the doll’s mouth would suck in the fake food via rollers and deposits it in the doll’s ‘stomach’ to be reused later. Of course the inevitably happened and this zombie like creation would eat anything, including children’s fingers and hair put anywhere near its mouth. Within just a couple of months there was a massive recall and all 500,000 customers who had brought this toy had got a full refund.
Belt Buckle Derringer Toy Gun
The concept behind this toy could be seen as either kind of cool or a bit disconcerting. Brought out in 1959, the idea was your child wore a toy gun on a belt buckle around their waist and when they vigorously thrusted their hips forward, causing the gun in a hands free motion to swing out of the buckle. Seemingly of its own accord and open fire. The reality was that the gun would jam setting itself and the buckle on fire, threatening to set your kid alight too. The toy was banned and withdrawn the same year it was launched.
Be just Like Daddy and Mommy!
‘Candy Cigarettes’ first appeared as far back as the 1890’s and the packaging was convincingly branded to resemble as much as possible real cigarettes. Also for awhile you could buy liquorice shaped tobacco pipes. It must make you wonder how many children were to later take up smoking because of this blatant normalization of this dangerous and addictive habit at such an early age? The majority of countries across the world have now banned these products, but a few states in America still allow them to be sold, under the name of ‘Candy Sticks’.
When food especially candy is made out to be fun, there is always the danger of this creating unhealthy eating and social habits among children, that can last a lifetime (see the entry number 8 on Candy Cigarettes). ‘Popping Candy’ first appeared in the late 1970’s and when put in the mouth would pop and sizzle as it melted harmlessly on contact with your saliva. But then stories started to spread that if you close your mouth and pinch your nose shut when eating it, the pressure will rupture your ear drums. Or worse still, if you consume a large amount of ‘Popping Candy’ and soda at the same time, it was rumored your stomach might explode. Well, these are both urban myths and thankfully the product is actually very safe to consume.
‘Clankers’ were popular in the 1970’s and were simply two acrylic balls attached to either end of a piece of heavy duty string. The idea was straightforward enough, you tried to get them to swing in motion and ‘clank’ together, then try to repeat this again and again in a rhythmic motion. When some started to shatter after repeated impacts, schools across the US started to ban the toy, fearing student might get injured. Then in 1976 the US government classed them as ‘mechanical hazards’, which pretty much ended their career as a fun toy.
One Small Step for Man, a lot of Pain for Mankind!
Want the feeling of walking on the moon, where you effortlessly bounce along due to the low gravity, but cannot afford the billions it would cost to get there? Well, in the 1970’s one toy manufacturer came up with the answer: Moon Boots! These in effect were footwear with built in mini-trampolines! Sadly, apart from they resulted in many broken ankles, they were constructed of multiple metal spring that could pierce through the sole of the shoe, causing the wearer’s foot to be painfully impaled. Not surprisingly they proved very unpopular. And they are not to be confused with the more recent rubber band powered Moon Shoe or the Air Kicks Anti-Gravity Running Boots, neither of which work particularly well either!
Target’s Easter and Dino Egg Surprise
Dinosaurs that can really Kill you!
In 2017, the US retail giant Target recalled 560,000 $1 special Easter and Dino Egg toys. These novelty items had toys inside that grow rapidly in size when they came in contact with water. Target had realized shortly after they had gone on sale that these expanding toys represented a dangerous choking hazard, if swallowed by anyone of any age, but especially young children. Luckily because of Target’s prompt action and the success of their recall, no one was ever injured by this product.
Small Lithium Batteries
Power-up your Child!
Gone are the days when children toys were powered by bulky Alkaline batteries (though they can be dangerous too).These days a lot of toys are powered by small shiny coin-sized button shaped Lithium batteries. And if swallowed can not just pose a serious choking hazard, but can leak once inside the body. This would then cause nasty internal caustic burns to soft tissue like the throat and oesophagus, and can even burn its way through into the lungs! The only option if your child swallows a battery like this, is to get them to hospital as quickly as possible so they can have it surgically removed.
Jarts Lawn Darts
Danger Raining Down from Above!
This toy is credited to have injured several thousand children, as well as killing several others. Introduced in the 1970’s, these oversized 12 inch darts were designed to be thrown up in the air and the idea was to get it as near or in a ring laying on the ground. The problem was they have a large metal tip and can be easily thrown quite some distance (over 50 feet). Despite Jarts claiming they were purely an adult toy, it ended up again and again in the hands of children. After much legal wrangling, the product was finally banned in the US in 1988 and then in Canada in 1989. That ban is still in force today.