Bad For You’s special Christmas countdown of twelve of the weirdest, most outrageous, totally craziest bans, blocks, recalls and protests ever over toys. We’re not saying some of them aren’t earned, but do you think ALL of these toys are dangerous?
WHY IT WAS FUN: In 2002, Barbie’s oldest pal got a makeover, and returned to toy shelves with a bulging belly; curious kids could open Midge up and pull out the baby inside. Pretty cool. Then after playing dress-up with the newborn, they could stick it back inside Midge for easy storage. Even cooler. So how could that be dangerous?
WHY IT WAS BAD: Some parents worried little girls would be programmed into becoming single teen moms. “There’s enough teenagers getting pregnant as it is,” one (older) mother complained to USA Today. “I think they’re glamorizing it, and it’s horrible.” But Midge was part of a “Happy Family,” sold alongside boy-doll Alan (he and Midge wed in 1991) and their child-doll Ryan. Nikki was the name of the fetus/baby. Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, feeling the pressure from protesting parents, pulled the baby – as well as the rest of the “Happy Family” – from their shelves two weeks before Christmas.
And it’s day two of Bad For You’s special Christmas countdown of twelve of the weirdest, most outrageous, totally craziest bans, blocks, recalls and protests ever over toys. We’re not saying some of them aren’t earned, but do you think ALL of these toys are dangerous?
(Actually, this one today…totally dangerous)
WHY IT WAS FUN: Cabbage Patch Dolls were so-ugly-they-were-cute and came with a certified Birth Certificate from a garden where they were “grown.” OK, maybe not so mind-blowing – but for some reason they were still popular Christmas gifts for many years. Both boys and girls liked them and the snappiest one of all was Snacktime Kid. Featuring battery-powered mechanical jaws, a kid could feed Snacktime a special plastic pretzel and then watch the doll poop it out. How could you possibility improve on that?!
WHY IT WAS BAD: Oops – they didn’t add an off switch for those battery-powered mechanical jaws. Armed with “real chewing action,” Snacktime Kid just kept crunching on that plastic pretzel until it swallowed it. Unfortunately, Snacktime Kid didn’t seem to care if, instead, it was chewing on kid’s finger or hunk of hair. The only way to turn it off was to remove the doll’s special battery backpack – something panicked parents didn’t take the time to read up on before their kid became imperiled. Mattel recalled them in 1997 and offered to repay the 500,000 Snacktime Kids owners “a full cash refund.”
‘Tis the season to be jolly – and a good way to make a kid jolly is to give them a ton of toys for Christmas. That explains why 60% of the toys parents buy for their kids are purchased this time of year. But you better watch out! ‘Tis also the season to say nay to toys – either by banning, blocking, or protesting against them! Most toys pulled from store shelves are due to concerns over little kids choking on small parts or exposure to toxic paint – both reasonable reasons to recall them. But occasionally the nay-saying is so weird, so outrageous, so over-the-top, so crazy, so weird (did we say that already?) that Bad For You has decided to highlight them here: a nay a day. Sure, some toys on this list were banned for good reason (the first two on our countdown are clearly BAD ideas), but are others on the list actually dangerous?
THE FIRST NAY OF CHRISTMAS: THE ATOMIC ENERGY LAB
WHY IT WAS FUN: “Produces awe-inspiring sights,” promised the product catalog. “Enables you to actually SEE the paths of electrons and alpha particles traveling at speeds of more than 10,000 miles per SECOND!” And they weren’t lying – those radiating mist trails were truly a sight to behold. The Atomic Energy Lab also looked great; it was designed by the guy who created the Erector Set. The whole thing was pretty pricey, too: $49.50 – a lot of money in 1951. Any kid would be lucky to have it, right?
WHY IT WAS BAD: Wrong – those super-cool glowing mist trails were caused by little chunks of radioactive uranium! Parents feared their budding young scientist – or, more likely, the kid’s younger sibling – would swallow the radioactive ore and light up like a Christmas tree.