The Phoenix

Monday, December 18, 2006

Santa Baby, Put That Thing Away!

World Against Toys Harming Children Inc., or W.A.T.C.H., released its top 10 most dangerous toys for 2006 just before the Christmas shopping season began. It's a pretty comprehenive list, and I'd have to agree with their choices for some of the most dangerous toys you can give a kid this year.

The most dangerous toy for 2006, for example, are Heelys. I know you've seen them. They're the shoes with that wheel that pops out. They're popular with 'tweens. A kid will be walking along, and suddenly, they start gliding like Kristi Yamaguchi. No shit they're dangerous...massive head trauma anyone?

Reading their list, it made me think of the toys of my generation. I would venture to say that 80% of ALL the toys that came out would make W.A.T.C.H.'s list. It's amazing more of us weren't impaled, chopped up, slashed, and permanently disabled from these great toys.

So here's my Top 10 List of toys that I shake my head at today. These are toys that make me think, "No way in hell my kid is playing with these."

Slip 'N Slide. Do you have fond memories of this great summer toy made by Wham-O? Do you remember any kids getting severely injured as well? These things are death traps. This toy is simply a long slippery sheet of plastic that you hook up a garden hose to. Water jets out of these little perforations along the edges of the plastic, and kids run and slide all the way down. Sounds fun, right? My nipples were bloody from this damn contraption. Oh, and if there was some sort of object underneath the plastic, like say, a sharp rock, the results can be deadly.

Home Chemistry Set. They still make these for kids, and I'm sure they're much safer. But my kit came with all kinds of unstable materials and an alcohol burner. Nothing is more fun than mixing a bunch of chemicals and heating it up with the burner until the concoction blows up in the test tube. Playing with acid is so much fun! At the heart of every mad scientist today is the need to blow shit up. And we can thank the makers of these volitile kid chemistry sets for that.

Superballs. Yet another fun product from Wham-O. The Superball was a little rubber ball that was capable of being bounced 100 feet into the air. We'd zing them all over the place, nearly taking out an eye here and there. None of us knew the Heimlich Maneuver, but thankfully none of my friends choked on one. But these things were amazing. They were most amazing when thrown off a roof. But the best game was "playing catch" with Superballs. This consisted of hurling this tiny hardened ball at your friend, aiming for his crotch.

Super Elastic Bubble. Guess who made this toy? That's right, Wham-O. This toy consisted of a straw and some gooey gel you put at the end of the straw. You'd blow a bubble that you could really play with. The bubble could be mushed and molded without popping. Of course, we never made bubbles really. We'd just inhale the noxious fumes that this liquid plastic emminated to get a buzz. Toxic fumes that killed brain cells and probably damaged our lungs. Oh, what fun times!

Stretch Armstrong. This toy was so much fun. Stretch Armstrong was the rubber figure with blond hair, bulging muscles, and a tight little bun-hugger swimsuit...wait a minute. What the hell? This toy obviously promoted homosexuality! Apart from that, this thing could be stetched to the point where you swore it would just rip in half. This thing was amazing. So amazing, my friends and I had to find out what made this thing stretch like that. We stabbed the gay bastard and found this foul-smelling syrup inside it. I'm sure this stuff was highly toxic.

Big Wheel. The Big Wheel could make any kid feel like Evil Knievel. You were supposed to ride this thing, pedal fast, and then hit the brake lever to do cool 180 skids. That's not how me and my buddies played with this. We'd find the biggest damn hill we could find, build a ramp at the bottom, and then hurl oursleves while kneeling on this little plastic rocket. I remember one Big Wheel just shattering when the fat kid landed after flying through the air.

Slinky. A classic toy for sure. In the commercial, you'd see this metal spring seemingly go down the stairs by itself like a robot caterpillar. "It's Slinky, it's Slinky, what a wonderful toy..." Of course, just ignore that this is just a tightly wound metal weapon. We'd grab one end and just hurl it at someone, like a barbed-wire yo-yo. Even if a kid was innocently playing with this thing, do you really want your kid playing with some strangling-hazard near some stairs???

Verti-Bird. This is one toy I wish I had owned. A neighbor kid had one, so I'd go over there at take this cool helicopter for a spin! The helicopter on that metal wire would spin and spin, and spin so fast, it'd turn that helicopter into a deadly flying chinese star. You get a group of kids around this thing, and it could turn into a sword fight scene from Kill Bill in a hurry. I wonder how many kids lost an eye from this toy.

Battlestar Galactica Ships: In 1978, a boy actually died from this toy. The ships fired these little red missles, and this kid fired one into his mouth, killing him. His parents sued Mattel for $14 million. I remember this whole event quite vividly, as I had the Colonel Viper ship. There was a weird recall too, as Mattel asked kids to mail in their red missles and receive a hot wheel car for their trouble. Yeah right! Kiss my ass Mattel. Not too long afterwards, the new Battlestar Galactica toys came out, but the red missles were glued and couldn't be fired. Hahaha...but mine continued to fire. Oh sweet victory.

And Finally...

Clackers. I believe this is the first toy ever made that was inspired by actual ninja assasin weaponry. A pair of clackers was simply two very hard glass-like balls with a string attached to them, and a plastic ring at the other end. You were supposed to put your finger in the ring, and then thrust your arm up and down to make the balls fly up in a deadly arc and smash against each other over and over again, up and down. They were pulled from shelves because kids were knocking the crap out of each other with them.

My favorite use for them would be to pretend my Clackers were Batman's bolo batarang. A willing friend (victim) would run away from me, and I would throw the Clackers at their feet, hoping they would quickly wrap around my escaping prey's shoes and make him trip. My dreams of being Batman were quickly dashed when the hard balls would simply smash my friend's ankles, and he'd be writhing in agony on the floor.

It's a miracle any of us survived childhood with toys like these.

Merry Christmas!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

My daughter, Junior, was too smart to try the Slip 'n Slide I gave her last year. But, her dad wasn't. It works like a charm.

My most dangerous toy. GI Joe, after dousing him in gasoline, lighting him on fire, and tossing him off a fire escape of a nearby building.

Come on, we were playing "The Towering Inferno" at the time.

12/18/2006 12:07 PM  
Blogger Curare_Z said...

I think that company was called "wham-o" because that's what would happen to you if you used or played with any of their toys.

But man...they WERE fun..

12/18/2006 12:48 PM  
Blogger KC said...

I fondly remember all these toys except the Battlestar Gallactica one with firing missles. I'm a bit older than you so I guess it was after my time.

God, I loved those clackers. They hurt like hell, but they were fun.

Twister might not have been "dangerous", but I do recall getting a few sprains from it.

12/18/2006 1:08 PM  
Blogger Kay said...

Good post. Don't forget the Lawn Darts!

12/18/2006 1:15 PM  
Blogger Kay said...

Oh yeah, and the Thunder Punch He-Man doll that fired caps. It was the only toy I ever stole from my brother (and emitted smoke).

12/18/2006 1:19 PM  
Blogger O Ceallaigh said...

This consisted [of] hurling this tiny hardened ball at your friend, aiming for his crotch.

You played cricket?!? :)

I was wondering why they make Slinkies out of plastic now ... they're just not the same.

12/18/2006 3:49 PM  
Blogger David Amulet said...

Yup, we survived--because lawyers like Curare weren't as rabid as in the past decade about blaming toy manufacturers for stupid kids' actions.

-- david

12/18/2006 4:02 PM  
Blogger OnMyWatch said...

I saw that list too and also remember the toys you pointed out. People are too scared nowadays.

They make me wish I could launch Magic 8 Balls into large crowds just to see what happens. Then again, maybe I'm wrong. Ask me again later.

12/18/2006 5:54 PM  
Blogger Keshi said...

Some pretty scary toys there!

**wait a minute. What the hell? This toy obviously promoted homosexuality


Well I guess some toy-makers r Bin-Laden and Ted Bundy types. Wut can u do!


12/18/2006 6:17 PM  
Blogger BuffyICS said...

Hilarious post--I don't know why we used to think Slip N Slide was so much fun. We all looked like child abuse victims after playing with that thing.

12/18/2006 6:36 PM  
Blogger goddess said...

I miss the great old playground equipment. We had tire jungle gyms that apparently bread too many mosquitos. Those great 10 foot high monkey bars that were made out of metal. I hung upside down from them all the time, they were awesome. The big concrete tubes that we would crawl into or on top of. A little concrete burn never hurt anyone. The teater totter. Man, that was always a problem when the neighbor kids were all younger and you couldn't get the weight to balance. So when the heavy kid (me) went down the other kid flew off. Man I miss those days!

12/18/2006 6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A very good list..
Remember the Deadly BB gun, you know.. ''That thing will put somebodys eye out''.

12/18/2006 7:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved Clackers. I hit myself so many times with those things.

Merry Christmas.

12/18/2006 8:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had at least six of these. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger...Or gives you brain damage.

12/18/2006 8:56 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Phoenix used his Slip 'N Slide until his nipples were bleeding, and he's blaming the toy. Interesting.

12/18/2006 9:25 PM  
Blogger Big Pissy said...

Those clackers were the worst.toy.ever.

12/18/2006 10:23 PM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

mr. friendly, I've watched many GI Joes get smashed, burned, drowned, and buried.

curare, Wham-O must have great lawyers.

KC, Twister! I forgot about that one.

Kay, Thunder Punch He-Man! I forgot about him too. It shot from his shield, right?

OC, Many of these toys are still on the market, but modified - like plastic slinkies and clackers made out of softer plastic with handles.

Amulet, I think the $14MM against Mattel back in 1979 started it all.

onmywatch, There are several different lists out there. I can say that this list is completely my own. Magic 8 balls are awesome!

12/19/2006 8:26 AM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

keshi, He-Man was pretty gay too.

buffyics, It was fun until you noticed all the sores and strawberries all over your chest and stomach.

goddess, And why is there a childhood obesity problem??? Hmmm...

phred, That's a Red Ryder BB gun. And they sell new ones - with the bright orange cap on the barrel.

goldennib, They bruised your arms very easily. Merry Christmas to you too.

grafs, Or puts you in a coma.

jim, I guess I didn't mention how sliding pulled on my nipple rings.

big pissy, The new ones have a handle, and they are still damn annoying.

12/19/2006 8:29 AM  
Blogger cube said...

Oh pleeeeze! Are they trying to destroy everything that is fun about being a kid?

Why don't they do something about truly dangerous toys like those slutty doxies of ill repute, namely the Bratz dolls, before we are awash in a veritable sea of Lindsays, Brittneys, & Parisi!!!!

12/19/2006 9:32 AM  
Anonymous stephanie said...

Slip 'N Slide. Whoo-hoo! My mom would turn the sprinklers on--we insisted on about 10 of them--and the whole backyard would turn into a mudpit. After awhile, we'd abandon the Slip 'N Slide and just roll around in the wet grass and mud, probably contracting malaria or something.

I did have a slinky, but I did not have the Battlestar Galatica ship. Too bad, it looks like fun.

12/19/2006 9:54 AM  
Blogger AnonymousCoworker said...

I would kill for a grown-up sized pair of Heelys.

12/19/2006 10:44 AM  
Blogger Curare_Z said...

David Amulet -- I resemble that remark, sir!

12/19/2006 11:46 AM  
Anonymous the weirdgirl said...

Oh, this made me laugh! I tried out a Slip N Slide as an adult... NOT a good idea! And I don't know one kid who didn't either stab his Stretch Armstrong or leave it out in the elements until it "melted". (It has to be out there a LONG time! Those kids were dedicated scientists.)

That shooting Battlestar Gallactica ship was the best!

12/19/2006 12:27 PM  
Blogger Sar said...

Oh man this brings back memories! I even remember the commercial jingle for Wham-O. Talk about representing your corporate name through your product.

And congrats again to you for FINALLY winning the caption contest, my friend! :)

12/19/2006 1:17 PM  
Blogger Sherri said...

I'm the worlds worst mom....

My oldest son has Heely's, my youngest has a big wheel, we invested in a slip and slide last summer....

I'm surprised my kids are still in one piece! LOL!!!

12/19/2006 4:01 PM  
Blogger angel, jr. said...

I liked Slip and Slide--my brother used one at his fraternity (don't ask).

12/19/2006 8:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'm thinking they called it "Wham-O" for a VERY good reason.

(But I still loved the slip-n-slide!)

Tai (who recentley switched to NEW blogger and can't get a comment in edge wise!)

12/19/2006 11:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'm thinking they called it "Wham-O" for a VERY good reason.

(But I still loved the slip-n-slide!)

12/19/2006 11:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'm thinking they called it "Wham-O" for a VERY good reason.

(But I still loved the slip-n-slide!)

12/19/2006 11:22 PM  
Blogger jay lassiter said...

what about that toy with a lemon on the end of a black cord that wrapped around your foot and your ran and skipped over?
i can't remember the name of it, but that sucker landed me in the ER at least once.

oh and the bubble thing? i used to love that too. good times, indeed.

12/20/2006 8:21 AM  
Blogger Pixie said...

I saw an add the other day on TV for a kids party pack It had all the usual streamers etc but they also contained party poppers (I think they called them champagne poppers) which surprised me because they can be quite nasty if they hit you in the face.
In the UK you have to be 16 or over to even buy them.

12/20/2006 8:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL Phoenix - I was looking at the Slinky thing thinking "SLINKY?!" - But yeah, I remember fondly stretching those things out as well and then flinging it to the other person before they could do it to me - with the metal ones a person could always manage to give the other person a few dozen scratches. ;-)

12/20/2006 10:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Daisy air rifle was partialy responsible for producing a generation of young boys who wanted to be cowboys. Flash forward up to 30 years:

Though not really a toy, I remember Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards being a wildly popular game with junior high and high school students. Let us remember that this is the same group of people behind the technology that produced the Internet porn revolution in the late nineties. The abundance of anal midgets and Asian she-males can be traced back directly to the geeks hanging out in the computer lab playing Leisure Suit Larry during lunch in 1989.

12/20/2006 12:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about the Pogo-Ball and the Pogo-Ball Blaster? Those weren't exactly safe either.

But my personal favorite was probably Jarts or Lawn Darts. They pre-dated my childhood, but I did have a set that were hand-me-downs from my older brothers... One of which accidentally put one of these lovely toys through a neighbor's foot.

12/20/2006 1:02 PM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

cube, I'm on the fence with those Bratz dolls. I think maybe they have gone overboard with the slut factor.

stephanie, I've watched four neighbor siblings literally destroy their own lawn after playing on the slip and slide. When Dad got home...ouch.

anonymous, I would kill myself on them.

curare, you're too legit to quit.

WG, I wish I still had my Viper ship right now. I'm sure I'd shoot my eye out.

sar, I bet the President of Wham-O has at least one comatose child.

12/20/2006 1:16 PM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

sherri, You're one superball away from living in a danger zone.

angel, I was in a fraternity too. Did it involve whipped cream???

tai (cubed), It looks like your comments all finally went through! I knew you'd be a slip n' slide fan.

jay, Yeah. I remember those. Lemon Twists...from the 70s. I bet many kids slammed their faces on the ground with that thing.

pixie, I've burned my hands with those things too.

jillian, few scratches was a minor injury for sure from Slinky.

yawn, Either they made internet porn, or they became flashers.

perplexio, Jarts - what a great way to impale each other!

12/20/2006 1:23 PM  
Blogger erika said...

I loved the Stretch Armstrong!

12/21/2006 8:35 AM  
Blogger Zen Wizard said...

Great post!

I remember 80% of these toys.

I guess in the Sixties there was such a surplus of kids because of the Baby Boom, if one little rug rat didn't make it we just kind of blew it off.

With the Heely's, there would seem to be the kid himself in danger, and the person--e.g., an old lady--that he hits. I seem to recall an old lady getting killed on Venice Boardwalk by somebody that was mobile in some fashion, I can't even remember if it was a skateboard or roller skates or what...

12/21/2006 8:44 AM  
Anonymous mojotek said...

Holy crap! I had about half of these toys myself... and I would have had them all if my parents were "upper crust-ish". It's good to know that my brothers and I weren't the only idiots to try and drive a big wheel off of ramps. And damn if the slip-N-slide never set up for us like it did in the commercials. We'd come away with bruises from all the rocks and sticks we were sliding over.

Man... this post makes me want to be a kid again!

12/21/2006 10:18 AM  
Blogger ajooja said...

My son is so good on his Heely's it's not even funny.

If I knew people wouldn't make fun of me, I'd get a pair. However, I know I be a big, rolling joke.

I have seriously thought about getting one of those adult Big Wheels. That would be fun, no matter what people said of me. :)

12/21/2006 10:59 AM  
Anonymous delmer said...

I see Perplexo beat me to the Jarts comment. My neighbor had some. What a bad idea ... I beleive someone was killed with these 15 or 20 years ago.

I had Verti-Bird, but I'd forgotten the name of the toy.

Richard S. had Klackers in elementary school. These things, I remember hearing, would eventually shatter.

It wasn't that long ago that I had a what-the-hell-were-people-thinking moment as I recalled the fun my neighbor and I had with his chemistry set. (This was back in the 60's and he had the Deluxe Set. It actually came with enriched Uranium and a pair of lead gloves. No, wait, it came with Salt Peter and we made smoke bombs.)

12/21/2006 12:27 PM  
Blogger Carmel said...

Some of those are deadly I agree! I had a slip n' slide when I was a kid too but thankfully I didn't have happen to me what happened to you!!
I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and new year.

12/21/2006 4:58 PM  
Blogger starbender said...

Oh, I luv'd all of those gifts! They were soooo much fun!

Phoenix~ I just want'd to wish U a Fantastic Christmas and an even better New Year!

: )

12/22/2006 2:36 AM  
Blogger Fated said...

Wham-O sounds like a fun company!

Slip 'n Slide was a big part of my childhood. It was also responsible for countless cuts and bruises. Oh the memories.

12/22/2006 7:31 AM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

erika, they even came out with a bad guy...some sort of creature that could be stretched out too.

zen wizard, I'm guessing it wasn't somebody on Heelys. You can't go very fast on one wheel.

mojotek, Yeah, but what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

ajooja, Adult big wheels? You mean a wheelchair???

delmer, My set had two kinds of acid. It was the alcohol burner that was so much fun.

carmel, I'm glad you didn't break your neck. Merry Christms.

starbender, We survived without any litigation. Have a great Christmas too.

fated, You know, I would LOVE to work for Wham-O. You'd be the most popular person in the neighborhood.

12/22/2006 7:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The wonderful thing about those Jarts and being able to impale one another was that flesh wounds were the gifts you could keep giving all year round!

12/22/2006 8:53 AM  
Blogger :P fuzzbox said...

Now Slinky has a plastic model. They are a pos. They tangle up even worse than the metal ones.

When I think of dangerous toys, I think of the SNL skit with Dan Akyroyd and the bag 'o glass.

12/22/2006 5:46 PM  
Blogger vani said...

oh, the good ole days..when it didn't matter if you drank tap water, rode a bike without a helmet and toys and music didn't come with warning labels!

12/22/2006 9:38 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

I remember those! I loved clackers, and for the girls (or boys) remember Chrissie Dolls?!!
Hey how about gumby!

Merry Chrsitmas Phoenix, stay safe :o)

12/23/2006 6:15 PM  
Blogger Phats said...

Slip N Slides are FUN!!!

have a merry christmas Phoenix!

12/24/2006 12:52 AM  
Blogger phlegmfatale said...

Merry Christmas - and may all your toys be unsafe for children!

12/25/2006 6:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the trip down memory lane...all toys of my youth...and you're right, how did we survive such death traps as those?

Happy Holidays


12/25/2006 11:34 AM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

Merry Christmas everybody.

12/25/2006 2:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas, Phoenix. Best wishes for a healthy, happy New Year.

12/25/2006 6:23 PM  
Blogger DaBich said...

OMG!! Clackers were evil, I tell you...they were possessed!

Merry Christmas Phoenix!!!

12/26/2006 12:00 PM  
Blogger Sherri said...

phoenix, I officially live in a danger zone now. I bought both boys a super ball for Christmas! LOL!!

12/27/2006 4:11 PM  

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