Santa Baby, Put That Thing Away!
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.
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.