Remembering Fun, Dangerous, and Sometimes Deadly Toys

Here's Proof That Our Parents Wanted To Kill Us!

Anyone born up to the mid 1980s can remember a favorite toy, that now looking back makes you want to say, "What the hell were my parents thinking?!" Now I am talking about toys outside of M-80s, BB Guns, Swiss Army Pocket Knives and Cherry Bombs. What I am thinking about are toy products that were advertised and sold with the best of intentions. I know there are a lot more toys I could have listed, but really outside of writing a book; I thought it best just to find a few of my personal favorites.

Many of these death traps...er..eh...mmm...I mean children's toys can explain a good chunk of the reason behind the baby-boom era. Face it... after reading about some of these toys... no wonder many families were large. Because many parents probably believed that the toy manufacturers were doing a little bit of "weeding out the heard"... so to speak.

Between toxic fumes, fire hazards, the potential for losing a limb (or an eye) and even a shot at radiation sickness or poisoning. Who would have thought that just by the sheer fact that you are reading this you are a survivior... you are part of the fittest of the spieces. Your parents must be so proud of you, or maybe not.

So let's take a look at some toys, that were around before the start of a new era. The era of the law suite craze. If anything these toys have proven one thing. That the one thing that makes these toys so damn attractive... is the one thing Madison Avenue couldn't advertise: the potential for real danger.

The kids today don't know what they are missing out on.

Clackers

Click Clack Clackers

Such a simple toy, and to some  people it looked so harmless. But to some Clackers looked a lot like the Argentine weapon known as bolas. The 1970s briefly popular toy called Click Clacks (or, depending on where you grew up, Knockers, Knocker Bockers, Clackers, Ka-Bangers, Knicker Knackers, etc.) was meant to be a noisy twist on the classic paddleball game. If you don't know the story, then you're thinking the ocassional smooshed fingers, and maybe you are partly right. Those spheres could deliver a mighty whack to the untrained hand, and sometimes even even worse consequences.

Clackers were actually two hard plastic marbles, each about two inches in diameter, attached to a ring with sturdy string. Yes, some still believe the myth that the click clacks' spheres were made of glass, truthfully no manufacturer has ever produced glass clackers. Click Clacks were made of  transparent, often colored, or sparkled acrylic which had a close resemblance to glass. The real danger was if you had managed to smack your Click Clacks together long enough and hard enough to reach the breaking point. The thick acrylic balls would shatter, sending flying shards of Click Clack. Usually, the noisy spheres were chipped away a little bit at a time, but there some that were on the receieving end of a surprise shattering, and holy shit...were you in for a treat or maybe some stitches.

The Clacker concept was as basic as the toy itself,  you simply put your finger in the plastic ring, and by using a light  hand motion; the two balls would swing apart and together, making the clacking noise that give the toy its name, and parents headaches. With a little practice, it was possible to get the marbles swinging so that they would clack together above the hand as well as below.

Click Clack Clackers production was ended after reports of children being injured by clacker shrapnel. Come on, the idea of playing with fast-moving, heavy spheres, made out of hard acrylic plastic, that could shatter upon impact of each other, and who could that possibily pose a safety hazard?

Click Clacks had a brief rebirth onto the store shelves in the 1990s. The producer tried a redesign of the clackers consisting of a handle and plastic triangles attached to the plastic marbles. Allowing weight to freely move the hard arcrylic spheres. But the same problem as the original toy concept was the worry. Shattering pieces of clacks were the problem, not the string, or the pastic wand.

This was a great toy...not only for the shatter pieces of plastics globes of death, but face it in the hands of the right child in could be a equilizer against bullies. Let not forget the potential for missing teeth, or the strangulation factor.

Lawn Darts

Jarts or Lawn Darts

Now here's a game that could have sold millions more, if the manufacturers would have been permitted to place a warning label stating that this product may cause serious injury or possible death if misused.

On December 19, 1988, the Consumer Product Safety Commission banned lawn darts from sale in the United States. By 1989, Jarts were also banned in Canada. Lawn darts have been responsible three deaths. It should be noted that the specific incident that caused Lawn Jarts to be made illegal also involved beer, and that, when engaged in responsibly, the recreational use of Lawn Jarts is less dangerous than baseball. Lawn Jarts remain legal for use in the United Kingdom as well as other countries.

Lawn darts (also called Jarts, yard darts or lawn darts) iwas a lawn game for two or more players. A lawn dart set usually includes four large darts and two targets. The dart themselves were basically plastic with a weight metal tip which you would toss the dart underhand into the air and hopefully have it stick into the ground inside a ring target. The game was played with the same idea and objectives as horseshoe and regular darts. Even though the Yard Dart's tip was not sharp enough to be dangerous when played properly, the problem was when the jart was misused, add drunken friends or bad judgement, and suddenly a Lawn Jart can cause skull punctures and other serious injuries.

Another version of the jart game was "nuclear lawn darts": Where old maps were place on theground and used as targets.

I remember once around the age of 10, while a friend and were tossing Lawn Darts in the air as high as we could... one came down and the heavy Jart tip busted through my mom's new bird bath fountain. The rest of the details after that moment still remain...hmm...fuzzy.

Jarts seem to have always kind of been somekind of inside joke amongst the people of the midwest since they were deemed illegal. I've heard stories of people losing grip of the Jart and taking out a window. Play games where the object was to toss the dart into the air and get it to stick into an upside paper cup. I remember playing a version of Lawn Dart "stick" that's when one person stands with feet spread apart, and the other person throws the dart as close as they can to the "victims" feet without "sticking" them. Funny the one who throws the dart and injures the other person is the ...LOSER.

Science Educational Cartoon Video On The Atom

Atomic Energy Lab

This as got to be the scariest toy ever created. Talk about the age of atomic fear brought straight into your living room. This must have been the perfect gift for the young terrorist in your family. Because nothing says "I Love You" more than giving your loved one their own Atomic Energy Lab kit, complete with radioactive material.

In 1951, A.C. Gilbert, creator of the Erector Set, introduced his U-238 Atomic Energy Lab. That's right kiddies! Your own radioactive learning set, that would make you the envy of the science club. Gilbert, was allegedly, "often compared to Walt Disney for his creative genius," must have believed that nuclear power could capture the imaginations of the children of the world, and what better way could there be than to package it, and sell it as a learning tool. Kind of like... in the same way a rock polishing kit, or microscope set is sold. For a mere $49.50 (which would equal around $350.00 today), the kit came complete with three "very low-level" radioactive sources, a Geiger-Mueller radiation counter, a Wilson Cloud Chamber (to see paths of alpha particles), a Spinthariscope (to see "live" radioactive disintegration), four samples of Uranium-bearing ores, and an Electroscope to measure radioactivity. The neighbor kids must have been glowing with envy.

Your child's personal nuclear lab came with an Atomic Energy Manual, that was partionally written with help from the director of the Manhattan Project, General Leslie Groves, and also included a comic book entitled "Learn How Dagwood Splits the Atom" because anybody who can construct a sandwich like Dagwood should have no problem splitting an atom. Plus an added feature... a government manual "Prospecting for Uranium." Hand to God, I can't make this kind of stuff up!

Apparently, nuclear physics didn't rank as high as cap guns on the kid's interest scale . The atomic lab toy was only sold for one year. No one really knows what effects the Uranium-bearing ores might have had on those few lucky, yet unassuming children who's parent actually bought them the set, but we do now know that exposure to the U-238 isotope has been linked to Gulf War syndrome, cancer, leukemia, and lymphoma, among other serious ailments. Even more uncertain would be what the longterm impact on a generation of children who were being raised by the kind of parents who would give them an Atomic Energy Lab. Can I get a "Holy Shit?"

By far, this was the most elaboratetake home Atomic Energy educational set ever created. OK it may have been the only one ever on the market. But I think it may have been a blessing, that it was only available from 1951 to 1952. After all its was very expensive for the time ($50.00 which is equal to $350.00 today) probably because even back then Geiger counters and radioactive isotopes weren't cheap. I'm pretty sure, it may have been a tad sophisticated for the average child.Today, it is so highly prized by collectors (and maybe small countries) that a complete set can go for more than 100 times the original price. Yeah, I'd like see someone try to ship out this kit, in our current Home Land Security climate.

Gilbert offered another set, as well, the No. 11 Atomic Energy set. Which included the spinthariscope, the radioactive ore and the manual. The Geiger counter could be purchased separately.

Gilbert had high expectations for America's youth, and he tried his best to help mold a future of engineers, doctors and leaders by providing the proper toys to feed the imaginations. He was inventor of the Erector Set. He saw its commercial appeal, and then he set higher goal for his company. His company became the leading manufacturer of scientific toys (chemistry sets) and construction sets (Erector), all were highly prized and widely acclaimed at the retail level.

The set originally contents of the lab kit was:

  • U-239 Geiger counter

  • Electroscope

  • Spinthariscope

  • Wilson cloud chamber

  • Low-level radiation sources:

    • Alpha particles

    • Beta particles

    • Gamma particles

  • Four Uranium-bearing ore samples

  • Nuclear spheres for making a molecular model

  • Prospecting for Uranium — a book

  • Gilbert Atomic Energy Manual

  • "Learn How Dagwood Split the Atom" comic book

  • Three C batteries

  • 1951 Gilbert Toys catalog

I'm sure this was just family fun by the boat load. Radiation sickness family fun.

Creepy Crawlers Fright Factory

Creepy Crawler's Fright Factory

Creepy Crawlers and its fright factory is the most common name associated with a toy made by Mattel beginning in 1964. A more generic term for the toy is "Thingmaker". I like calling it exposed hot plate with metal cast trays, that you could pour liquid plastic into, and watch it cook (proper term would be cure) until it becomes somekind of rubberized thing. No fire hazard, chance to sevre burns or inhalation a toxic fumes here boys and girls.

A Thingmaker toy consisted of a series of die-cast metal molds, that kids poured a liquid chemical substance called Plasti-Goop. The Goop wasavailable in many colors and varieties. The mold is then heated atop an open-face electric hot plate oven. Fun, Fun, Ouch! Fun... The Goop is cured by the heat, and when its cooled (that is important...cooled) whatever it is you molded can be removed from the mold. Look you now have a solid, rubbery replica of a bug, or an other critter.

Imagine the hours of fun that could have been had if you had this toy and the atom lab...Good Times.

Of course, Mattel packaged other molds and the sets were sold separately. Not to mention larger mold set with themes, and exclusive mold sets like Superman,Tarzan,original Mattel concepts like Squirtles, and Gangly Danglies.

I know what you youngsters in the audience are saying..."Hey, that's not dangerous...it uses a damn light bulb!". Wrong kiddies, that's the lasest version of the Thingmaker...the original 1960s version used a plug in cooker that reached about 3000 degrees fahrenheit so that it could cook the Goop in its lead molds. After testing the Creepy Crawler for doneness (done properly by poking the Creepy Crawler with a pin, usually done by touching mold with bare finger), the mold was then removed from the inferno using a bent piece of wire and was dunked into a tray of cold water. Parents had to put up with many trips to the emergency room, thanks to this little gem of a toy.

Extremely hot surface, Fingerprint removal. A chance at serious injury or disfigurement, just for critters that were toxic. Since it was the ’60s, and even though there was an out cry from the singed and sickened masses, was able to turn a deaf ear, and go right on marketing their electric 3000°F hot plate carrier of toxic fumes to children. Making this child's toy still to this day, one of the top most dangerous toys of all time.

Shrinky Dinks Commercial

Shrinky Dinks

Shrinky Dinks kits were basically large flexible sheets that, when heated in an oven, would shrink to small hard plates without altering their color or shape. Some sets are pre-printed with outline images of popular children's characters or other subjects, which kids then coloured in ..then bake.

Shrinky dinks were invented in 1973 by Betty Morris of Brookfield, Wisconsin. The first kits were manufactured by a major toy company. The shrink plastic is supposedly still available, so check with your local retailer or hobby center. All I remember as a kid, is my sisters and I choking on the fumes on melting plastic and thinking this is fun. My parent never thought much about it.

The sets I remember, you would take a sheet of the thin, flexible polystyrene plastic, and trace an image from something, say like a coloring book. Then you color the image in, with either colored felt-tip pens, acrylic paint, colored or pencils.. Then you would cut out the shapes. Now there is a draw back in the coloring deptment...oily or waxy substances, like cheap colored pencils, crayons, or oil paint were not suitable because they would melt or burn inthe  high heat of your mom's oven. Anyway, when heated in the oven or blasted  with a heat gun, the plastic shrinks down and becomes thicker, more rigid poor man's version of the tiny piece of colored design stained (plexi) glass.

Shrinky Dinks are considered to be an arts and crafts product for children, but many adult crafters find the product to be suitable for making jewelry and other projects; that they take to flea markets and new age fairs to sell for high mark up profit. In a serious note, University of California, Merced Professor Michelle Khine has applied Shrinky Dinks to create tiny structures for the application of Microfluidics to topics such as stem cell research. I wonder if this means Shrinky Dinks will be denied government funding in the future, since being associated with stem cell research? 

Over the years Shrinky Dinks have had its share of recalled products, but always seems to pop back up. I'm sure the days of the noxious fumes fromdays gone by... have gone bye-bye. But  like many others I survived inhaling fumes from melting polystyrene plastic. Remember kids anything with the word "poly" before it means that it a by-product from oil.

The Dangers Of Childhood

I could go on for quite sometime about surviving toys. Everything from Wood Burning Sets to turning your Pet Rock into a vicious flying killer. Another favorite toy I had was my Dad's old steam engine.

You would fill this metal tank with water, then pack the burner with sterno and light it. Once the sterno was burning, you would slide the burner into its spot under the metal water tank. The steam would build up enough to make a wheel turn. For more added fun a steam whistle was located on the top of the metal water tank.

Many of us have survive sharp edged metal toys, flying projectials, and toxic fumes. One of my favorite dangerous children's toys during research was Aqua Dots.

Aqua dots were beads that were part of a craft kit that allowed children to create "multidimensional designs." The outside coating actually became toxic when water was added to the little plastic balls. Of course kids being typical children put things in their mouths. The Aqua Dots toxicity was the effects of date-rape drug GHB. Victims of Aqua Dots could become "comatose, develop respiratory depression, or have seizures."

Who said being a kid was easy?

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Comments 54 comments

Sibli Luaxessna profile image

Sibli Luaxessna 7 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

My favorites were always the lawn darts. :0 I would delight in getting them out and being the first to...get out of range. You didn’t have to be in projectile distance to still be within ear shot. That was even more fun than the Fourth of July. I always loved that song cruel to be kind. These days I try and be more judicious about who I randomly maim though, blindfold please...alright know if some karma from the audience will assist me...oops I said I was going to wait till the count of three didn’t I, I am sorry here lets try again...wait come back! come back!

*hugs*

Sib


BrianS profile image

BrianS 7 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

Love the things you write about, it's either quirky or murder, mystery and intrigue but always entertaining and interesting. I think you should have swingball on this list, how many times has this been played without someone getting the ball full in the face or the string wrapped around their neck? I rest my case.


St.James profile image

St.James 7 years ago from Lurking Around Florida Author

Sib... Thanks for you for your blast of Jart art, I still thik the human moving target made Lawn Darts that much more fun.

BrianS... Good call Swing Ball if I am not mistaken was something like a small ball (tennis, or baseball sized) with a long string connect to a aluminium ploe that anchored into the ground (the pole had a sharp point) the idea was to use it for batting practice. But hours of fun could be had as Brian stated or you could use the pole in a spear-like manner with a friend as the willing victim.

Another great product was the Snoopy Snow Cone Machine... basically a hand cranked cheese grater good for shaving ice, cheese, or fingers.... mmmm meaty and my favorite flavor... RED.


Lisa HW profile image

Lisa HW 7 years ago from Massachusetts

My little brother (and I mean "little" - like six) had VacuForm (a version of the Thing Maker), and we both absolutely loved melting those toxic-smelling plastic sheets into useless, molded, "pictures" (because it never really did work out when you tried cutting them and turning them into a "toy"). (Besides, who needs a two-piece plastic knight's head?)

As for me: Tin. Tin doll house, tin toy kitchen appliances, lots of tin with little sharp corners., :) (If it wasn't technically tin, it sure look and felt like it.)


Amy G 7 years ago

Love this hub! We had lawn darts, which were really good to toss over the fence at the neighbor boys while they were re-lighting black cats to return fire! And my brother had the bug thing... I don't remember a stink, but I remember how damn hot that thing got. Ironically, all we have now is lead-based toys from China... MUCH safer!

Thanks!


imadork profile image

imadork 7 years ago from St. Peters, MO

Slip N Slide is one that I hated. It never failed...you think you cleared the yard of all rocks...ouch, there's one you missed!


St.James profile image

St.James 7 years ago from Lurking Around Florida Author

Lisa HW... My sisters had a kitchen set like you are talking about...mmm...tetinous.

Amy G... I remember re-lighting the Black Cat duds...sometimes they weren't duds

ImaDork...I feel ya I thought about writing about the slip an slide for that reason...and not to mention the occasional dry spot while sliding on your stomach.

Thank you for writing about your toy experience.


LelahKimball profile image

LelahKimball 7 years ago from USA

Had the lawn darts. Survived. I had Creepy Crawlers growing up too. We had tons of Shrinky Dinks. Wow. I can think of a ton of toys that wouldn’t be approved anymore. Of course, my three boys can turn a stuffed animal into something dangerous.


rongould profile image

rongould 7 years ago

Black Cat fircrackers were tops on my list. I even had a Grandmother who ran the fireworks stand. Score!

I am surprised many of us survived to adulthood. It isn't like we weren't trying to maim ourselves or something. How about the Gilbert chemistry sets? They even had warnings about doing many of the experiments outdoors. Loved the hub. It brought back many memories - some of them with fondness...


Proud Mom profile image

Proud Mom 7 years ago from USA

Beware the lawn darts!! i still cringe at the mere mention of their name!

Great hub! Thanks for the memories....


jjrubio 7 years ago

OMG!!! I loved Shrinky Dinks.....Yeah toys have come along way. I guess common sense wasn't too prevalent back then or they just didn't care. Whatever the case I still LOVED your hub....and those Clackers do look like bolas....wow!


St.James profile image

St.James 7 years ago from Lurking Around Florida Author

Well Gang...Lelah, Ron, Proud, and JJ

Toys back then were fun regardless of the danger. Many got us out of the house, and promoted imagination. Scary look back...sure. Fun? .... You bet your sweet A..never mind.

Here is a couple more that come to mind,

The EZ Bake Oven... Back in the day, a high wattage light buld that cooked a mini cake in only 2 hours... chance at fire? maybe

Johnny Reb Cannon.. It fired mini plastic cannonballs... easy to swallow, or was your friends mouth an easy target?

The Bow with the suction cup arrows... easy to remove suction cup leaving you a flying stick to shoot your sister's eye with.


Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna Marie Bowman 7 years ago from Florida

I had lawn darts as a kid!!!!  We must have got them before they were removed from the market, because we had them for years!!! I would have been 9 when they were banned, and we still had them for a few years after that!  Big thanks to my parents!!


imadork profile image

imadork 7 years ago from St. Peters, MO

I wonder how many people's heads were penetrated by the Jarts?


Proud Mom profile image

Proud Mom 7 years ago from USA

You know what's cheaper than buying the shrinky dinks? Visiting relatives who store their tupperware IN THEIR OVEN. Trying to be a nice house-guest, you preheat the oven while you're mixing up the biscuit dough. Suddenly, a strange smell fills the kitchen.....

I found out that it's not as cute when you're an adult. :-))


Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna Marie Bowman 7 years ago from Florida

I have no idea, but a few times I got hit in the leg with one and it hurt like hell!!! Either my sister had terrible aim, or she was trying to take me out.


Proud Mom profile image

Proud Mom 7 years ago from USA

OUCH!!


St.James profile image

St.James 7 years ago from Lurking Around Florida Author

As far as Jarts are concern the Consumer Safety Council wanted all lawn darts, even the one already privately owned destroyed... Once in awhile you can still find them for sale at yard sales and flea markets.

Proud Mom...thanks for the tupperware tip.


Benson Yeung profile image

Benson Yeung 7 years ago from Hong Kong

I used to love the click clacks. thanks for bringing back this warm nostalgic feelings. I was also trying to murder a few of my enemies sharing with them this favorite toy of mine.


St.James profile image

St.James 7 years ago from Lurking Around Florida Author

Benson... Click clacks are another product that would had sold millions more if the manufacturers would have been permitted to place a warning label stating that this product may cause serious injury or possible death if misused.


Peppermint Thrift profile image

Peppermint Thrift 7 years ago

Great Hub! I remember even Tonka trucks being dangerous because they're made completely of metal and when thrown, well duck or get hurt pretty bad. My brother had a microscope/lab set and he swears to this day that the kit had ether in it! It's surprising that we survived but I must say we were a bit tougher than today's kids.


St.James profile image

St.James 7 years ago from Lurking Around Florida Author

We are alot tougher than kids today Peppermint,

We had monkey bars and playground equipment that were made of metal, embedded in concrete, with screws that stuck out, and everything was rusty. I remember as a kid my favorite park to play in had everything made out of wood. We became pros at removing our own splitters, not to mention everything was held together by rusty bolts and nails.

Other great toys came from old penny gumball machine (I still have a jar full of these) The badges had extra long pins in them, I even have mini zippo type lighter that actually worked when fluid was added, and tiny knive with bendy metallic blades; that still hurt when you poked with them. Either America was trying to create a bunch of West-side story junior gang members, or started us early into the world of hoodlum.


jjrubio 7 years ago

E-Z bake oven....I got burned with that...and Jacks are another danger. I once left them on the floor of our bathroom and my dad stepped on them barefooted. Lets just say my toosh was red for a long time!!! (**WHIPPED! with the belt ) =(

But I never did that again!


imadork profile image

imadork 7 years ago from St. Peters, MO

I think my parents thought I was gay because I asked for an EZ Bake oven for Xmas. Needless to say, Santa did not bring that one.


St.James profile image

St.James 7 years ago from Lurking Around Florida Author

What about the Water Wiggle?.... hose could wrap around your neck and as an added bonus drowned. Summer fun


Proud Mom profile image

Proud Mom 7 years ago from USA

I'd forgotten about those, St. James!

An Easy Bake oven, dork? What was the reasoning behind that?


St.James profile image

St.James 7 years ago from Lurking Around Florida Author

I remember building model cars with model glue with intoxicating fumes. Toy guns that shot plastic pellets.


Christa Dovel profile image

Christa Dovel 7 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

I loved the shrinky dinks set my mom had, but my dad threw out his Atomic Energy Lab (or something very similar to it) when I was small.

My favorite was bottle rocket wars, shot from the hand. If we were considering death though, we took a trip to the barn to swing from the rope in the haymow. Three children hanging on the pulley end could raise one twenty or so into the air. All those poor toys we had so much fun with, now considered deathly -- what a shame!


St.James profile image

St.James 7 years ago from Lurking Around Florida Author

Right On Christa!

Barn swinging, bottle rocket wars, and don't forget tree vine swinging Tarzan style...Good Times! We used to good to my grandparent and duck in and out of the bull pen. Once I got the back of my pants caught on the barbed wire...that was a close call.

I remember how we used to build "Choppers" out of our banana seat bikes. I once jumped a ramp with my chopper and the front extension forks flew-off. My exposed bike fork buried into the pavement and I launched over the handle bars... road rash was served.

Remember tetherball injuries?


Christa Dovel profile image

Christa Dovel 7 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

Oh I hated tether-ball! I always was the one injured by that game, and my cousin thought it was so funny. However, I did enjoy jumping bikes, and even more, motorcycles... not a sport I enjoy today, but, at 10, jumping through the ditches (with younger siblings on the back) was a ton of fun. Now my boys want motorcycles. :D

Of course, an ordinary swing set can be just as dangerous...


St.James profile image

St.James 7 years ago from Lurking Around Florida Author

Let's not forget Ping-Pong...even though know a Ping-Pong paddle can bring a tear to my eye, and a warmth to my heart.


luvintkandtj profile image

luvintkandtj 7 years ago from USA

I love this hub! The worlds so much more fun when there's the element of danger.


St.James profile image

St.James 7 years ago from Lurking Around Florida Author

I agree... Children need to experience more than what's on a video game.


miracles02 profile image

miracles02 7 years ago from Canton, IL

Oh! I SO remember those 1970's toys! I LOVED my clackers....and yard jarts!!! GREAT hub!


St.James profile image

St.James 7 years ago from Lurking Around Florida Author

The toys were great, and what made them so great was the daily chance at pain and doom!


Cailin Gallagher profile image

Cailin Gallagher 7 years ago from New England

Very cool hub. I think back to all these old toys and wonder why we all survived. We were actually let out of our house unattended to play too! What about the kidnappers? Its so sad that our children have lost this freedom. Parents are so afraid for their kids that they don't let them play with anything unless it's a non toxic ball let alone let them outside to play. Then, they go away to college and play like crazy! And why not? They haven't had freedom before this.


Laura Spector profile image

Laura Spector 7 years ago from Chiang Mai, Thailand

I don't know how I'm still alive. Between the lawn darts and the shrinkydinks...(that smell is still vivid! Boy were they fun!). Remember that stuff that came in a tiny tube that you could squeeze out a little blob of it, stick it on the end of a tiny hard plastic straw and blow bubbles? Ahhh, the smells of fun toxic materials. Thanks for the walk down memory lane. By the way - the packaging back when - rocks!!! Way better than today's graphic design.


Einzee 7 years ago

Being born in '73, I kinda missed out on the opportunity to play with a few of the most dangerous toys. I do have vivid memories of a certain toy that my older brother had. It was a gasoline (or other flammable liquid) powered airplane that was attached to a long cord. If my memory serves me correctly, the object of this contraption was to get the engine started and hold onto the rope and spin in a circle. The person would contol the elevation and the rope would control the path of the plane, usually a circle of about 20 feet in diameter. I mentioned "usually" because I do remember the rope breaking and the plane was destroyed by the nearest wall :(


St.James profile image

St.James 7 years ago from Lurking Around Florida Author

Einzee... Brilliant memory of a killer toy!


credit report 7 years ago

WOW talk about memory lane... the clackers ROCKED, i loved those things and was sad when my parents threw them out (sniff), lawn darts... still have 'em (dont tell anyone) and I forgot all about the Creepy Crawlers... those were cool too (or should I say HOT)... what a fun Hub...


RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin

I loved the clackers. They were great. Especially when defending yourself from other clackers. :)


Dink96 profile image

Dink96 6 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

There's a new candy store in Phoenix called "Smeeks" that has a lot of cool retro candy and toys. I even spotted some Shrinky Dinks in there. Smeeks is just west of Central Ave. on Camelback between "Red Hot Robot" toys and Stinkweeds records.


St.James profile image

St.James 6 years ago from Lurking Around Florida Author

Dinky... Smeeks, Red Hot Robots and Stinkweeds all sound like places I would love to hang-out at.

My new writing moniker starts soon! Look out for Jimmie Mac


Dink96 profile image

Dink96 6 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

Jimmie Mac: If you ever get out this way, I promise to take you there. I think they'd be right up your alley--especially Stinkweeds and RH Robot....REALLY avant garde toys in there. Dinky the Tripster in the heels ;)


Julie Randolph 6 years ago

LOVE the Atomic Energy Lab kit. Holy crap. How did I miss this?


St.James profile image

St.James 6 years ago from Lurking Around Florida Author

I'm with you Julie... some kids had ALL the fun


Jennifer 6 years ago

I had a thing maker!! We would collect bugs like preying mantises and throw them on there and watch em' fry! Loads of fun!


BlacKats 6 years ago

Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball


jcasey110 5 years ago

I'm not old enough to remember most of these toys, but i've seen the re-makes, & shrinky dinks works with wax paper & crayons in the oven, too, but we had a gully swing in my nana's back yard! It was so awesome, my big cousins built it, & under you was like a 30 ft. drop into briers & rocks & a 2 in. deep creek! But it was wicked anyhow!


jcasey110 5 years ago

Has anyone seen the Krazy Kars lately?


wendy 5 years ago

can anyone remember the name of the craft set that my sister had, where you make jewellry etc like cufflinks and can set flowers or shells inside....


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IzzyZ 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Nothing said 'alpha female' like a girl with a pair of fast moving clackers. They were the pretty, sparkly sling-shot cajones that terrified every boy in the neighbourhood! Those things moved at 100 mph and were hard as rocks. A talented girl could give a boy a black eye or a sporano voice with a set of those; they were the great Freudian feminist equalizer! All a ten year old girl needed was her pretty pink clackers and a dead eye gaze. Thanks for the memories.


lunarrob 4 years ago

except for the clackers I think I still have each of these toys somewhere in my attic storage back home, seriously. And the funny thing I have no problem letting my kids play with them, personally due to some winning mother out there thought oh my, what a dangers toy and started some petition to have them banned. Okay I too heard the story of the lawn darts, even been hit by one, and yes I smacked myself in the arm and even in the head with the Clackers, and the rubber bug maker, yeah it got real hot. it was great for making fishing jigs. I even have a burner in my attic which has an asbestos protective heat shield for setting hot times on. Personally I think there are just too many cry babies in the world. As kids around the age of 8 we built forts and had BB gun fights, there were welts, we wore eye protection, and we came back for more. Okay I would not allow my kid to have a BB gun fight just because I did, but come on now the lawn darts, the crawly bug factory, you bet. We all cook on stoves, and allow our kids in the kitchen, sometimes people even adults pick up a hot pan or pot, so are we now going to ban kitchen appliances.


lespring 4 years ago

Jarts! My siblings were 7 and 8 years older than me so I was the constant target - I mean tag-a-long. "You stand here in the middle of this circle and we'll see if we can get the dart in the target without hitting you."

And what about that plastic stuff that you rolled into a ball, stuck a straw in and blew it up into a ball? (Bubble plastic or something like that) I'm sure that wasn't toxic at all!

My own kids had Sky Dancer flying dolls. Yeah...great whirling projectile to shoot in the air. Toys are just so boringly safe today!

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