As people grow older, it’s natural for them to look back fondly on the things they enjoyed as children. But they may also find that the details of their nostalgic romps inspire surprisingly horrified reactions from younger generations.
For instance, the idea of a car where someone’s most beloved childhood memories took place not having seat belts would be unthinkable to most people born after the 1960s. And by the same token, there are quite a few toys that kids in the ’80s prayed to get for Christmas, but that would just be too risky to sell nowadays.
It’s true that lawn darts are far older than the 1980s, but it was also the last decade that most families could enjoy them. Because according to Mashable, they were nationally banned for sale by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission in 1988.
But as fun as the lawn game may have been, the reasons for that ban were understandable. An errant throw could drive the darts’ sharp, metal tips into children’s heads, which was responsible for about 6,100 hospitalizations and three fatalities before the ban took place.
Garbage Pail Kids
Although the Garbage Pail Kids collectible trading cards were trendy among adolescents during the ’80s, the Topps company responsible for them faced pressure from schools, parent groups, and psychologist William F. Walsh to stop producing the cards due to their disturbing imagery.
However, this is not the reason why they can’t be produced today. As AP News reported, the death knell for the original Garbage Pail Kids came in 1987 after Cabbage Patch Kids manufacturer Original Appalachian Artworks sued Topps for copyright and trademark infringement.
For those unfamiliar, the Pogo Ball was a toy that combined an inflatable ball with a plastic disc that worked as a hands-free alternative to a Pogo stick. But while the toy’s design was a recipe for accidental injuries, that’s not what led Hasbro to stop manufacturing it.
And while the toy company was sued over the toy’s patent rights by Rapael J. Van Der Cleyen and Wilifriend F. Ribbens of Belgium, that wasn’t what killed the toy either. Instead, Mashable reported that Hasbro discontinued the Pogo Ball simply because its popularity dried up by the mid-’90s.
Although their popularity spiked in the ’90s, Bustle outlined that Slap Bracelets were invented in 1983 by Wisconsin shop teacher Stuart Anders. And while the flexibility of their metal insides and the colorful designs on their fabric covers delighted kids, the same could not be said for their parents.
This was due to the fact that the bracelets’ metal interiors were sharp enough to cut children’s skin if they came through their coverings. And since this was a particularly common problem for knock-off brands, they were specifically targeted in a mass recall by the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection.
For decades, children going to their local playgrounds could expect to ride a tall metal slide that gave them just the right runway to zoom off the jungle gym.
However, Mental Floss explained that while burns from the sun-heated metal were a common hazard for these slides, it was the falling risk from the top rungs that compelled lawsuits and evolving regulations for playground equipment.
Steve The Tramp
This toy is a simple depiction of the Dick Tracy villain Steve The Tramp, but its packaging featured some copy that inspired backlash for denigrating homeless people. Some choice passages described him as an “ignorant bum” who recruits children into his “army of little street thieves and con artists.”
As The Baltimore Sun reported, the toy barely made it into the ’90s before Kay-Bee Toy & Hobby pulled it from its 1,200 stores across the country.
Wham O Slip N Slide
Although modified versions of this popular summer favorite are still sold today, the original Wham O Slip N Slide with the shorter runway was recalled in 1993.
According to Mental Floss, the toy had not proved dangerous to children under 12 but was responsible for permanently paralyzing multiple adults between 1973 and 1991.
LJN’s original WWF wrestler toys
When pro wrestling exploded in popularity during the ’80s, the very idea of getting a toy with the likeness of a favorite wrestler was irresistible to children. But while their size remains impressive by today’s standards, the fact that their arms and legs can’t be moved almost defeats the purpose of a wrestling toy.
And while Michael Patrick Rogers of E Wrestling News maintained that kids didn’t care how safe toys were back then, he also noted how easy it was to expose the wires under the figures’ rubber exteriors.
Playmobil Happy Meal toys
In the early ’80s, McDonald’s had a deal with Playmobil that bundled these little Western-themed toys with their ever-popular Happy Meals.
However, ABC News reported that the fast food giant recalled about 10 million of these toys in 1982 after they proved a choking hazard for children under three.
At first glance, it’s hard to imagine how a soft, cuddly toy like the Glo Worm could possibly pose a threat to anyone.
However, an old report from The New York Post mentioned that three different chemicals called phthalates were used to soften the toy’s plastic head. These chemicals are considered harmful when ingested.
While some toys couldn’t be made today because they’re considered dangerous or offensive by modern standards, the original line of Manglors couldn’t be released today due to false advertising concerns.
That’s because their original marketing claimed that the toys could be bent and stretched so much that somebody could reattach their limbs after severing them completely. This turned out to be untrue and vintage Manglors are now difficult to find in good condition as a result.
Hang Ten Mini-Hammocks
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Hang Ten mini-hammocks were children’s net hammocks sold from 1979 until the product was recalled in 1996.
When used without spreader bars, the hammock proved a severe enough suffocation risk to claim 12 lives and to cause at least two other near-fatal incidents between 1984 and 1995.
Clacker ball toys like Ker-Bangers were marketed as helping kids’ hand-eye coordination as they slammed plastic balls together. Unfortunately, the polymer used to make these toys throughout the ’60s, ’70s, and early ’80s wasn’t sturdy enough to accommodate this purpose and was prone to shattering.
This meant that the balls could explode in a child’s hands and potentially fling small plastic shards into their eyes. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the product was recalled in 1985 for this reason.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, these Princess Telephone toys sold between 1989 and 1990 were about four-and-a-half inches long, came in multiple colors, and were packaged in sets of two.
However, they didn’t last long on the market because the phone’s dial was found to break off easily enough to become a choking hazard. The CPSC announced a recall of the product on September 6, 1990.
Power Wheels Porsche 911
Although Fisher Price’s Power Wheels series of motorized toy cars remain a popular item today, certain models over the years were recalled for malfunctioning parts.
As Vice reported, one of the most infamous of these recalls came after the line’s fever pitch in the ’80s and saw this Porsche 911 model discontinued in 1991. The problem, in this case, was a defective pedal that left children unable to stop the car.
Scowlene was a villainous character from the ’80s cartoon series Moon Dreamers. But while the main characters of the series made for adorable dolls in the vein of Rainbow Brite, the same couldn’t be said for Scowlene.
Since there was nothing inherently unsafe about the toy itself, the only thing preventing it from being sold today is the likelihood of children simply not wanting it due to the potential nightmare fuel.
Sesame Street Rhythm Band Set
Although there are Sesame Street Rhythm Band Sets from this era that are safe to use, they were released after July 1990.
Because according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the original run from the late ’80s featured Oscar the Grouch heads on the cymbals that detached too easily. Thus, they were considered choking hazards for young children.
The Happy Tricycle
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, this was a wind-up toy sold before March 1990 that featured either a police figure or a thief figure riding little tricycles.
Unfortunately, the sharp edges of the toy were found to be puncture wound hazards. Additional testing found that small parts could break off of these toys and become choking hazards.
JSNY Dress-Me Clown
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 250,000 of these clown dolls were sold by mail-order catalog between 1986 and 1989.
However, the commission recalled them in 1990 because the buckle, button, and zipper on the dress-up doll were found to come off easily enough to constitute a choking hazard for young children. The recall took place before any such incidents were reported.
Busy Elephants were soft crib toys with a string attached to the belly that allowed the elephant to connect with a little mouse in the pocket of its overalls.
Unfortunately, some of the cords on the Busy Elephants from this original 1987-1989 run would come unraveled. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, this led to cases where they wrapped around the necks and bodies of infants. Although the elephants made in China didn’t have this problem, the ones made in Korea were considered too dangerous to sell.
Big Bird Trike
This Sesame Street wind-up toy saw Big Bird pedal a blue and green tricycle and sold about 3,000 units between June 1989 and January 1990.
As for what was supposed to be so wrong with the toys, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission cited the small screws placed under Big Bird’s feet as choking hazards if separated.
Although the Kensington Bear collection has spanned decades, one particular design from 1989 was considered dangerous enough for the Heartline company to launch a recall.
According to U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the issue at hand were heart-shaped buttons on the front of the bear’s dress. These carried a high risk of detaching from the dress, making them a choking hazard.
Disney Donald’s Fun Farm
Disney Donald’s Fun Farm was a playset manufactured in 1988 that featured classic Disney characters in a rural setting.
But while most of the set lived up to the box’s promise of safe play, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission explained that the manufacturer had to replace the tractor shown here. That’s because the original model’s wheels had a habit of falling off, which left parts small enough to be choking hazards.
Although plastic Big Wheel riding toys remain a staple of early childhood, some motorized models based on real motorcycles during the late ’80s weren’t as fun as they seemed.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, that was because the “on” switch on the bike had a tendency to overheat. When it did so, it could either burn a child’s hand or get stuck and prevent its rider from stopping the bike.
Ghostblasters were noisemaking toys bundled with Hardee’s kid’s meals during the summer of 1989 as promotional tie-ins for the release of Ghostbusters II.
However, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission explained that the promotion had to be cut short after 15 reports of children ingesting the batteries surfaced. Since the Ghostblasters were deemed a choking hazard after these batteries were found to be easily dislodged, the toys were recalled.
Color ‘N Contrast Busy Box
Between March and May of 1989, Playskool manufactured and sold the Color ‘N Contrast Busy Box activity center. But while it looks innocent enough, one subtle but serious problem cut its run short.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the paint on the printed logo exceeded federal limits for lead content in consumer products, and Playskool voluntarily recalled the affected products.
In 1988, Artsana of America started manufacturing a top spinning toy with a central ball that opened up to reveal this bumblebee. Although this toy was never recalled because most of the unit was safe, the company did advise retailers and customers to remove a specific part.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were four rubber “feet” under the toy’s blue base. Since these were small enough to constitute choking hazards and didn’t affect play, there was no reason not to remove them.
Snoopy Wind-Up Train
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Lionel Leisure Inc. ordered a recall of this Snoopy Wind-Up Train on May 16, 1989.
As for why, it turned out that the toy was more fragile than expected and broke into small pieces on impact. These small pieces constituted choking hazards.
Mickey Mouse In N Out School Bus
The Mickey Mouse In N Out School Bus was a toy intended for pre-schoolers that started appearing on the market in 1986 but was eventually recalled in 1989.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, both the bus itself and the four Disney characters that came with it were susceptible to breaking apart. The resulting small parts were considered a choking hazard.
Hot Looks dolls
While many little girls were gifted Hot Looks dolls when they were young, there was something seriously wrong with the Mattel line.
While the dolls were fashionable in their own right each having their own style, the fact that each was blatantly a stereotype of their country of origin makes it so there is no way they would pass in today’s society.