50 Childhood Toys So Dangerous They Ended Up Banned
When purchasing toys for children, we tend to put our trust in the safety regulations that govern the industry. It’s fairly rare (although not unheard of) for toys nowadays to be deemed dangerous after they hit the shop shelves.
Still, that definitely hasn’t always been the case. Below are 50 children’s toys that had to be banned to prevent any further injury or harm to the kids who simply wanted to play with them.
50. Snacktime Cabbage Patch Kid
The premise of the Snacktime Cabbage Patch Kid was that children would be able to feed the doll pretend food. Kids could feed their doll a variety of plastic snacks, which could then be removed from inside the doll and re-used again.
One problem: the jaws on the toys were pretty powerful – and they’d only stop ‘chewing’ once they’d finished eating. So if a child happened to get their fingers or hair near the toy’s mouth, they’d struggle to get the doll to stop trying to ‘eat’ them.
49. Rollerblade Barbie
Barbie is probably the most famous toy in the world, but some of her incarnations have been met with controversy. Rollerblade Barbie was released by Mattel in 1991 and was unique for her flashing skates. While Roller Barbie’s skates flashed with harmless LED lights, they also literally fired out sparks when you rolled them over a flat surface.
Some worried that the doll could potentially cause fires if the sparks got out of control. Unsurprisingly, Mattel quickly recalled the product before any children were seriously injured.
Heavy, metal darts with a rather sharp point at the end – what could possibly go wrong? Lots, as it happens. Before they were banned, there were over 6,100 reports of injuries from jarts – or ‘lawn darts’ – in the US alone.
Tragically, in April 1987, seven-year-old girl Michelle Snow was killed when she was hit by a stray lawn dart. Snow’s father was distraught and began to lobby for a ban on lawn darts, as he feared that it was only a matter of time before the same thing happened again.
47. Sky Dancers
With Sky Dancers, you’d pull a cord to make them spin up into the air, and the idea was that they’d gracefully float back down to earth.
But in their heyday, Sky Dancers resulted in over 100 reports of eye, teeth and facial injuries. It turned out that the dolls were susceptible to firing off in random directions and into peoples’ faces. After it became clear that the dolls weren’t safe, production was halted and an incredible 9 million of the toys were recalled by manufacturer Galoob.
46. CSI Fingerprint Examination Kit
Shockingly, the 2007 CBS-licensed toy CSI Fingerprint Examination Kit contained ‘fingerprint dusting powder’ with 5% tremolite asbestos – one of the most lethal forms of asbestos.
Fortunately, no children or parents were harmed at the time thanks to a civil action filed by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization. The toy’s manufacturers were forced to stop production and sales of the kit immediately.
45. Easy-Bake Oven
In May 2006, Hasbro received a flurry of complaints about its new Easy-Bake Oven, as children were getting burned and catching their fingers in the door. To address the problem, Hasbro replaced the 2006 model with another model that included a protective plastic grate. Still, a further 249 reports were lodged – including 16 complaints of second- or third-degree burns.
One 5-year-old girl had to have part of her finger amputated because the damage caused by the oven burn was so severe. After Hasbro learned of this particular incident they issued a recall for a staggering 985,000 Easy-Bake Ovens.
44. Splash Off Water Rockets
While Splash Off Water Rockets initially seemed harmless, they actually injured a number of children following their release back in the late 90s.
In some instances, the rockets broke apart while being filled up due to the water pressure. The toy’s manufacturer, Ohio Art Company, received 37 reports of the rockets breaking while being filled, causing plenty of injuries. The Ohio Art Company went on to recall over 67,800 Splash Off Water Rockets.
Clackers were a popular toy in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The premise was simple: you just had to knock the two plastic balls together as quickly as possible.
While it was fairly common to accidentally bruise oneself if your hand got in the way of an oncoming acrylic ball, that wasn’t the real danger with Clackers. As kids moved the balls faster and faster they would occasionally shatter on impact, showering shards of plastic everywhere. You won’t be too surprised to hear that they caused a number of injuries before being finally banned in the US in 1985.
42. Atomic Energy Laboratory
In perhaps the most shocking example of a dangerous toy that we’ve ever come across, the Atomic Energy Lab was found to contain actual radioactive materials.
The Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Laboratory was a lab set released by the AC Gilbert Company in 1950. However, the kit had to be pulled in 1951 as it actually contained samples of the radioactive element uranium. Thankfully, the kit didn’t reach many children anyway – it was commercially unsuccessful and fewer than 5,000 kits were sold.
41. Aqua Dots
Aqua Dots – also known as Bindeez, Beados, Pixos, and Aquabeads – were a children’s toy from the early 2000s. These small, coloured beads could be stuck together to make images.
However, it came to light in 2007 that one of the cheap chemicals used to make Aqua Dots broke down into GHB when ingested. Some unlucky children suffered seizures, with two children in the US slipping into comas as a result of eating the beads. US officials recalled over 4 million of the toys, while manufacturer Spin Master was fined over $1 million.
40. Quik-Clik Polly Pocket
Toymakers Mattel had to recall over 4 million of their Quik-Clik Polly Pockets after it was found that the toy’s magnets were coming loose.
Some of the magnets were being swallowed by young children, with the magnets potentially causing serious internal damage as they attracted each other once ingested. Three children were hospitalised and required surgery after swallowing them. There were 170 reports of these small magnets coming loose from the dolls and accessories.
39. Barbie and Tanner
The Mattel Barbie and Tanner toy from 2006 was also cursed with faulty magnets that could come loose.
The dog’s pooper-scooper contained a magnet that was prone to falling out and being swallowed by children. Thankfully, no injuries were reported, although there were three separate reports of the magnets coming loose. Shortly after the reports were lodged, Mattel recalled all 683,000 units of the faulty toy in 2007.
38. Hannah Montana Pop Star Card Game
You wouldn’t think that a card game could possibly be dangerous – but after various toys were tested for lead levels in December 2007, it was discovered that the Hannah Montana Card Game was pumped full of lead. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that no children’s toys contain over 40 parts per million lead.
The game contained a staggering 3,000 parts per million. As a result of the tests, over 6 million toys had to be recalled. Other toys that exceeded the recommended levels of lead included a Go Diego Go! backpack and Circo brand shoes.
37. Yo-yo water ball
‘Yo-yo water balls’ – who knew that was their name? – were a firm favourite among 90s kids. But they were made from a highly flammable material, the liquid inside the ball was toxic, while the toy’s stretchy cord posed a serious strangulation risk.
By December 2007, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission had received reports of 409 injuries. While the CPSC refused to ban the toys outright, they were subsequently banned in Illinois, New Jersey, and New York. The toy was also redesigned to limit the cord to a shorter length and reduce the risk of strangulation.
36. Slap bracelets
A simple but effective toy, slap bracelets were all the rage in school playgrounds in the 90s. Slap bracelets were all made of a flat strip of metal coated in a colourful fabric – but some of the cheaper knockoffs used poor quality fabric that the metal strip could rip through.
One unlucky four-year-old girl cut her fingers on one of these knockoff bracelets, prompting several schools to ban them. Given the fact that these bracelets were being slapped around necks as well as wrists, banning them from playgrounds was probably a wise decision.
35. Aqua Leisure Inflatable Baby Boats
The Aqua Leisure Inflatable Baby Boat was essentially an inflatable boat that babies could sit in. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the boat’s leg straps were prone to snapping. The seat itself could also rip and in some cases send the baby straight down into the water.
Thankfully, no children actually drowned, although several were affected by the faulty boats and put at risk of drowning. Aqua Leisure were forced to recall over four million boats. Ultimately, the company was fined $650,000 by the CPSC in 2012.
34. Battlestar Galactica Colonial Viper
The Battlestar Galactica Colonial Viper toy hit the shelves in the late 1970s following the Battlestar Galactica show premiere. Even though the original series was cancelled after just 24 episodes, the toy continued to fly off the shelves.
However, tragedy struck in December 1978 when a four-year-old boy aimed the toy into his mouth and launched a missile down his throat. Sadly, the young boy choked to death. The toy was subsequently pulled off shelves immediately. This tragedy is the reason why most toys now come with a choking hazard warning.
Magnetix – as the name suggests – completely centred around magnets, with kids using the magnet-filled plastic pieces to build structures with. The small magnets found in the toy’s plastic pieces could easily become detached and posed a serious choking hazard.
Tragically, Magnetix killed a 20-month-old baby after he swallowed a bunch of loose magnets that blocked his small intestine. Several other children suffered serious injuries after swallowing magnets from Magnetix sets and the toys were eventually recalled in 2006.
32. Gilbert Glass Blowing Set
Bizarrely, glass blowing was a necessary skill for chemistry students in the 1950s, as they were required to make their own test tubes. Glass has to be exceedingly hot before it reaches its ‘softening point’, which is around 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that encouraging children to play with unbelievably hot glass isn’t the best idea. It’s no surprise that the Gilbert Glass Blowing Set was eventually taken off shelves for being too dangerous.
31. Austin Magic Pistol
The Austin Magic Pistol certainly stood out from other toy guns on the market back in the 1940s, but for all the wrong reasons. The pistol used ‘magic crystals’ – made from dangerous compound calcium carbide – that would explode when mixed with water.
Using the force from the explosion, the gun would also powerfully launch plastic balls 70 feet or more. The Austin Magic Pistol was sold briefly in the late 1940s, but nowadays this ‘toy’ would probably be classified as a firearm. Originals can fetch high prices at auction and are hugely collectible items.
30. Creepy Crawlers’ Thingmaker
Mattel launched the Creepy Crawlers’ Thingmaker way back in 1964. This toy came with an oven, a mould and a chemical gel called Plastigoop that allowed children to make casts of their favourite insects.
The oven could heat up to 199 degrees Celsius, which unsurprisingly resulted in a lot of reports of burns. What’s more, the smoking Plastigoop produced toxic fumes that caused kids to fall ill. The toy was eventually taken off shelves. Mattel revised the product to make it safer before taking it to market again in the late 70s.
29. Fidget spinners
Fidget spinners were all the rage a few years ago, becoming immensely popular around the summer of 2017. However, some kids found that they were able to pop the metal bearings out of the toy. Naturally, this posed a choking hazard, as well as further issues if the bearings were actually ingested.
Between March 2017 and February 2018, ten children were treated for swallowing fidget spinner components. Many fidget spinners also contained dangerously high levels of lead, leading Target to pull the product from its shelves in November 2017.
28. Fisher-Price Power Wheels
The Fisher-Price Power Wheels brand name dates back to 1984, but demand for battery-powered vehicles for kids really took off in the 90s.
Unfortunately, Power Wheels had their first major recall in 1991 when it was discovered that contacts in the foot pedal of a kid-sized Porsche 911 could weld together and make it impossible to stop the vehicle. Then in 1998, Fisher-Price were forced to recall a staggering 10 million units after the vehicles were denounced as a fire hazard.
Hoverboards were all the rage a few years ago, but their time in the spotlight was extremely short-lived.
It turned out that the lithium-ion battery packs in hoverboards were prone to overheating and posed a serious fire risk. Ten companies recalled more than 500,000 hoverboards after almost 100 reports of the boards catching fire.
26. Mini hammocks
The innocuous mini hammock turned out to be one of the most deadly kids’ toys of the 20th century. To accommodate smaller people, these kid-sized hammocks lacked the ‘spreader’ bar that normally holds adult-sized hammocks open.
Without this bar, mini hammocks were prone to getting twisted and ensnaring young children climbing in or out. Tragically, at least a dozen children died of strangulation between the 80s and 90s after getting entangled in them. Ten manufacturers eventually recalled 3 million mini hammocks in 1996.
25. Burger King Pokémon toys
Burger King began giving out a seemingly harmless Pokémon ball toy with their kids’ meals towards the end of 1999. It wasn’t the toys themselves which posed a problem – instead, the issue lay with the balls that concealed the toys.
Tragically, a 13-month-old girl and 4-month-old boy both suffocated to death when one half of the plastic balls became suctioned onto their faces and rendered them unable to breathe. In one of the biggest product recalls in history, Burger King recalled 25 million of the balls.
While Buckyballs were never marketed as a children’s toy, that didn’t stop kids from getting their hands on these extremely powerful magnets. The product launched in 2009 and, soon after, reports of children ingesting them began to flood in.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated that 1,700 children visited the ER after swallowing powerful magnets like Buckyballs. A recall was eventually forced in 2012 and the Buckyballs manufacturing company was made to shell out $375,000 in refunds.
23. Kite tubes
The premise behind the ‘kite tube’ was that you’d be lifted into the air by a 10-foot-wide tube that dragged behind a speedboat. However, once the user was in the air, there was unfortunately no real way to control the tube.
Tragically two people lost their lives after sustaining fatal injuries as a result of using these dangerous gizmos. There were, in addition, many reports of injuries resulting from use of the gadget. The manufacturing company, Sportsstuff, voluntarily recalled the tubes in 2006.
22. Sky Rangers Park Flyer Radio-Controlled Airplane
The Sky Rangers Park Flyer toy’s premise was simple: turn the plane on, give it a gentle throw, then steer it through the air using the radio controller. However, the batteries the toy required were prone to exploding while the plane was in use.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission documented 45 reports of exploding planes that resulted in injuries – including damage to the eyes, ears, hands, face and chest due to shrapnel. There were also reports of temporary hearing loss. Eventually, in 2007, the company behind the Sky Rangers plane recalled over 21,000 units.
Slime-based toys are a firm favourite amongst kids – but Hasbro’s 1960s creation Flubber was flooded with a deluge of complaints. Around 1,600 of reports came in detailing cases of rashes or sore throats in kids who played with Flubber.
It turned out that Flubber could cause folliculitis – a painful inflammation of the hair follicles. After a mass recall, Hasbro were unable to burn all the useless Flubber due to the toxic fumes it would exude – and so, allegedly, the company buried the lot under a parking lot outside one of their warehouses in Rhode Island.
20. Moon Shoes
Originally made from metal, this 70s footwear formed miniature trampolines for your child’s feet. You strapped them over your shoes to put a spring in your step.
Moon Shoes fell out of favour after causing a number of ankle fractures and leg injuries, as they could propel kids head-first into obstacles. Marketed by Nickelodeon, Moon Shoes returned in the late 80s with heavy revisions, including a softer plastic design.
19. Slip ‘N Slide
This 30-foot-long plastic water slide first hit markets in the 70s, and it was a huge commercial success. When used by children, as instructed, the Wham-O Slip ‘N Slide was actually harmless. It was only when adults wanted a go that the product started causing serious injuries.
Temporarily taken off the market in the 70s, this item just wasn’t designed for adult bodies, which could violently judder to a halt if they were too heavy to be jettisoned by the water. From 1973 to 1991, around seven adults and one teenager were paralysed or suffered neck injuries from using the Slip ‘N Slide.
18. Toothpick Crossbows
A 2017 craze in China saw kids stocking up on Toothpick Crossbows, which could reportedly pierce an aluminium can from a distance of 20 to 66 feet. Schools, naturally, began to confiscate these distracting and potentially dangerous toys. One ten-year-old suffered permanent sight loss after one toothpick launched from a crossbow hit him in the eye.
For many of the banned crossbows, it was impossible to trace the manufacturers. Chinese state news called upon the general public to report anything they knew about the “evil-minded” creators of the toys.
17. Plug Aqua Ballistics Water Balloon Launcher
Designed for three people to use together, the Plug Aqua Ballistics Water Balloon Launcher could send a water balloon flying over 100 metres.
A little too powerful for a conventional toy weapon, these balloons posed an obvious threat to unlucky passers-by and property. Popular in Australia, the balloon launchers were recalled in 2018 with the offer of a store refund – although they had already been on the market for over five years.
16. Fisher-Price Trikes
These sweet-looking Fisher-Price tricycles were recalled in their millions after they were found to have a painful hidden feature. Just behind the handlebars, these toys had a plastic ‘ignition key’ that jutted out from the tricycle’s frame.
If a child on the trike fell forward, they could end up with a groin injury – as was the case for ten children in reported cases. As well as recalling the product, Fisher-Price also offered existing customers a replacement key, with a less angular design.
15. Swing Wing
Not unlike a hula hoop for your head, Swing Wings consist of a hard hat with a rope and streamers attached to it. You swing your head around to keep the streamers flying in a dizzying circle.
These classic 60s toys presented a pretty clear risk of neck injuries and concussions. This bizarre craze of the past has more recently appeared in skits for The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Fox New’s Red Eye with Greg Gutfelt.
14. Wham-O Air Blaster Gun
With the ability to hit targets from up to 40 feet away, the Wham-O Air Blaster shot air rather than any physical ammunition – but it could nevertheless cause some serious harm. Commercials said you could use it knock things over “safely and accurately”: “It’s invisible, the magic power to surprise, to tease! Yes, the air blaster is fun for all the family.”
The product was pulled in the late 70s, following rumours that children were damaging each other’s hearing by sending compressed air straight into their ears.
13. Super Elastic Bubble Plastic
Throughout the 70s and 80s, kid could get their hands on these semi-solid bubble kits. A tiny amount of liquid plastic was added to a tube, and then blown into a ball. However, the plastic contained a particularly nasty blend of toxic chemicals.
The liquid plastic gave off noxious fumes, which could then build up in the straw, creating a potentially dangerous mouthful of gas. Super Elastic Bubble Plastic was eventually discontinued because of this risk – although similar products are still around, like Amazing Elastic Plastic and B’loonies.
12. Little Lady Stove
Long before the Easy Bake Oven, the Little Lady Stove was a favourite among aspiring young chefs. This fully-functioning electric stove was described as “just right for tiny girls” by its manufacturers, despite the risk of serious burns.
Still, it wasn’t injuries that took this particular oven out of toyshops – it was actually the Second World War, which created tin and steel shortages, that took Little Lady Stoves off the market.
11. The Water Wiggle
Another Wham-O classic, the Water Wiggle was a seven-foot hose with a jet nozzle for frolicking in the back yard on summer days. However, this water toy also came with an aluminium nozzle that was a serious hazard.
Tragically, in 1978 one four-year-old drowned when he got the nozzle lodged in his mouth – similar to the death of a three-year-old playing with the same product in 1975. After selling around 2.5 million Water Wiggles in the USA, Wham-O decided to voluntarily recall all of the products following these deaths.
10. Plush Uterus
The American company I Heart Guts created an unorthodox line of plush toys shaped as major organs, marketed more towards adult biology enthusiasts than to kids. However, their uterus plush proved to be a danger to young children, as the ovaries could be pulled off and swallowed, presenting a choking risk.
After recalling the toys in 2007, iheartguts.com published a statement: “A new kid-safe uterus will be available in 2009 for those of you with kids who must have a plushie uterus. In the meantime, please refrain from swallowing any ovaries.”
9. Thomas and Friends Wooden Railway Toys
The fictional island of Sodor is home to copper mining – but a different kind of metal made these Thomas the Tank Engine toys dangerous.
It was discovered that these wooden toy trains could be toxic to young children because their surfaces were painted with lead. Made in China, a total 1.5 million of these Thomas and Friends toys were hastily recalled in 2007.
8. Build-A-Bear Swimwear Set
Build-A-Bear’s make-your-own toy stores won massive popularity in the 2000s. In 2011, though, a new bear accessory was deemed a strangulation hazard. The Build-A-Bear Swimwear Set included an inflatable-style rubber ring with tubing that could get caught around a child’s neck – and did, in the case of one nearly-strangled three-year-old toddler.
After just three months on the market, the swimwear sets were recalled. In 2015, Build-A-Bear issued another recall, this time for its Starbright Dragon, which could leak stuffing that presented a choking hazard.
7. Pottery Barn Kids Dolls
The potentially lethal design flaw of these cuddly dolls was actually hidden in their hair. Some strands of hair on the toys were ‘looped’, meaning both ends were attached to the scalp. In five cases, children caught a loop of this hair around their necks and struggled to take it off – though fortunately no one was injured.
Over 80,000 of these dolls were recalled. Manufacturers suggested that adults cut the hair and headbands off the dolls to remove the risk.
6. Radio Flyer Scoot ‘n Zoom
Sold at Walmart, target.com and amazon.com, these plastic Radio Flyers were far from road-worthy. They just didn’t stay balanced, and if they tipped over in motion, they could cause unpleasant injuries.
Three children lost or loosened teeth in Radio Flyer collisions, while three others needed stitches after crashing the tiny cars. Around 165,000 of the toys, specifically ones with the model number 711, were recalled when it became apparent the faulty design was a recipe for disaster.
5. Creatology Pottery Wheel Kits
For creative kids, it could be immensely fun to set up a pottery studio at home – but the Creatology Pottery Wheel Kits for kids brought more risks than joy.
It wasn’t the spinning wheel or ingredients that posed a risk in this case, but instead the battery compartment. As the batteries overheated, they could burn the user, or even start a fire. Over 260,000 of the wheels were taken out of action in response.
4. Tiny Message Bears
Russ Berrie and Company created these cute stuffed bears in the 80s. Their unique selling point? They came bearing a heart-warming message on a tiny wooden stick.
The stick was a bad combination with young children, as kids could easily poke an eye with it. What’s more, the bears carried miniature balloons that were a choking hazard. Though not strictly banned, one attorney chose Tiny Message Bears as one of the ten worst toys of 1985.
3. Belt Buckle Derringer Toy Gun
Made by Mattel, this wearable faux-weapon from 1959 looked (relatively) ordinary when clipped in place. However, when the wearer stuck out their stomach, the gun would swing open and fire off a cap.
Customers soon discovered that the gun had a tendency to go off without warning. The caps could also ignite while still in the gun, causing serious burns.
2. Super Jumper Trampolines
Trampolines have long had parents wringing their hands, with the risk of serious injuries from a bad landing – including concussion and broken bones. But in 2019, 23,000 Super Jumper Trampolines were recalled because of a flaw with the toys themselves.
97 people had complained that the trampolines’ metal railing welds were snapping under pressure, with four people wounded as a result.
1. The humble bouncy ball
The bouncy ball is in fact one of the most dangerous playground items, in one year causing twice as many emergency room visits as trampolines did. The main risk is that young children will choke on them.
Still, it may come as a surprise that these innocuous toys have been banned from countless school playgrounds over the past few decades because of its hazards.