When you look back at the ’80s, it really feels like it was a different world back then. There weren’t many TV shows, social media didn’t exist, and cellphones weren’t really a thing. How did kids survive back then you ask? Well, toys. Toys of all shapes and forms.
Actual toys (not ones on screens) were a big part of the culture. Some were a hit, some were not, and some were a hit but then were banned. Most of the toys that were removed from the shelves were banned because they were downright dangerous.
We bring you the most dangerous of them all…
Slap bracelets are a total throwback for many people out there. These loud pieces of jewelry were one of the hottest things to sport back in the ’80s. The trend even tiptoed well into the ’90s as well! A huge bonus point was that they were cheap, which meant that parents had no problem purchasing them.
At first, these fashion accessories seemed harmless, but eventually, they were taken off the shelves because they were pretty dangerous. They were essentially made of a metal band covered by a thin piece of fabric. You had to slap it against your wrist to get it to coil around and make a bracelet. But it didn’t take long for the cloth covering it to tear and for the metal to cut your wrists…
Monster Science Colossal Water Balls
Children are absolutely enchanted by anything science and all things magic. This super hyped toy was a bit of both, and it drew in kids from all over the world. These water balls were truly popular with youngsters. They were these small capsules that would expand when you placed them in water.
They would become huge, up to 400 times their original size. Pretty awesome, right? Well, unfortunately, some kids thought it would be a good idea to ingest these little balls. And sadly, these balls blew up in their tiny stomachs. They had to undergo surgery to remove them.
Many people assume that the simple solution to the problems caused by these toys would be to just keep them away from small kids who might potentially swallow them. Well, parents can’t watch over their kids every second of every day, right? And young ones are known for putting things in their mouth. This was precisely the problem with this toy as well.
Aqua dots were tiny beads that stuck together when set alongside each other and sprayed with water. People believed it was a fantastic way for kids to explore their creativity by creating all these different designs. However, the dots were toxic because they were spray painted. They were also made of plastic which meant that, obviously, they weren’t meant to be ingested.
It may be a bit unfair to put this on this list because we doubt people bought this for their young children. However, they might have bought it for their teenagers. This toy was a small inflatable boat that was attached to a much bigger boat. The rider was supposed to yank the cord which would in turn send them flying up in the air.
Fun? Maybe. The real problem was that when you were up in the air, there was nothing you could do to control the craft. The Kite Tube had just a few handgrips you could hold onto. Sadly, this toy led to a host of injuries before being pulled from the shelf.
Snack Time Doll
Parents waited hours in line for this bizarre toy, all so they could surprise their little monsters at home. While there was nothing wrong with the actual doll, the company released a variation of it that proved to be a huge mistake.
In comes the snack-time doll, which was an interactive version of one that would nibble on little pieces of plastic food. This made it seem like your child was feeding the doll. The issue was that the doll couldn’t tell the difference between its food and your kid’s little fingers. Curious youngsters would stick their fingers in their doll’s mouth and get bitten in return.
Bucky balls weren’t really child’s play; they were aimed at older kids, or kids with a crafty, scientific mind who loved to build things. They were these little magnets in the form of black marble-like toys. Kids could stick them together and create all sorts of designs.
But yet again, this game brought about another swallowing issue. Whether on purpose or by accident, kids would gulp down the magnets. If one or more of these were ingested, they would stick together and become lodged in the kid’s body. Next step: the hospital.
CSI Fingerprint Examination Kit
Some kids dream of becoming detectives just like the ones they see in different shows and films. But as we already know, Hollywood usually makes things seem so romantic, when in reality, solving big cases and chasing down bad guys is incredibly messy. In any case, the romanticization of the field led to this CSI kit.
This fingerprint examination kit was a must for every young detective in town. It came with everything needed to do some fingerprint testing, like black dust to capture the print. The issue was that this black dust was one of the most dangerous forms of asbestos. The powder contained 7% of this substance!
Splash Off Water Rockets
If a kid’s toy has the word “rocket” in its name, something is probably off. All I can picture is someone’s house (or health) being destroyed. And, sure enough, while this rocket might have been a massive hit in the ’80s, it was also terribly destructive.
The Splash Off Water Rocket utilized water pressure from a hose to create enough energy so that when you stepped on the launcher, it would spring up in the air. Or at least that was the original intention of the game. The problem was that the rocket often exploded from the pressure or unpredictably flew off in other directions.
Aqua Leisure Baby Boats
Baby boats still exist on the market; however, it’s a known fact that they shouldn’t be used without an adult supervising the situation. In other words, it’s advised that you keep an eye on your kid when they’re using it. But even then, no matter how much parents watched over their kids, disaster still struck.
The company that manufactured Aqua Leisure Baby Boat was fined $650,000 for the defected toy, a defect they knew about. This company used such cheap fabric that the bottom of the boat would rip apart and the toddler would often plunge right into the water.
Easy Bake Ovens
Here’s another toy that was so popular that stores had to keep restocking their shelves. Parents were extremely eager to buy their kids this toy. Seemingly harmless, this oven gave kids the chance to make their own snacks by using a little lightbulb. While the toy is still available today, it’s nothing like the one that was used in the ’80s.
At the time, those ovens were burning their little kids’ fingers. They could reach high temperatures of up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. More than one million models had some severe design flaws which would trap children’s fingers in the oven and cause some pretty nasty burns.
With a name like Clackers, you can already assume the sound this toy makes. Clackers actually had a very simple concept – two hard balls attached to the end of a string that when moved in the correct way, would make a clacking sound. Sounds safe, right?
Well, these were actually little weapons in disguise. Children got severely injured by these acrylic balls. They hit their hands repeatedly, and if they held it close to their faces… ouch. There are toys like Clackers today, but they’re made of plastic and swing on a stick which is way easier to control than a thin strand of string.
Initially, this game seemed like a fun, family friendly activity. A nice toy that could be used out in the fresh air. The game was essentially a popular version of a dart game. It included darts and hoops and the goal was to throw your dart and have it land right inside the hoop lying on the ground.
This toy was banned in 1988, and it was highly advised that whoever had their hands on this at the time should toss it away. Why? Well, in a span of eight years, 6,000 people were rushed to the emergency room because of injuries related to Jarts. Nearly all of them were kids under the age of 15.
Moon Shoes may have looked really fun and cool, but they were actually incredibly dangerous. At the time, when some kids weren’t allowed to have them… they cried and cried and couldn’t fathom WHY. But now as adults, I’m sure they all understand.
Basically, these were feet trampolines. Kids would place their little feet in straps and bounce away! It would give them the sensation that they were walking on the moon − except that they were getting hurt, constantly. The strands didn’t actually support your feet and many kids broke and sprained their ankles as a result.
This toy appeared to solve one of life’s most pressing issues – how to balance on a ball. As it turns out, children in the ‘80’s desperately wanted to balance on a ball, and the Pogo-Ball was their best bet. It was basically a Pogo-stick with no handles. Kids would put their feet on their sides and attempt to hold themselves up while balancing.
So, while the toy wasn’t made of anything that could harm a child, the lack of support meant that kids suffered multiple injuries while using it. Needless to say, no parent wants to see their kid toppling around and hurting themselves.
Wham-O Slip N’ Slide
Ahh…. good ole’ Slip N’ Slides. On hot summer days, these toys were great to play with. They were the perfect activity if one wanted to cool off. The commercials on TV made these slides look like a lot of fun, but, actually, they were quite painful.
The slides were normally placed on very hard surfaces which caused a lot of injuries, particularly in the spine. The good part was that these bruises seemed to only happen to older people, so the instructions on the packaging were changed so that only small kids were allowed to use these.
Hang 10 Mini Hammocks
Hammocks are a wonderful, rocking, soothing place to chill out. They are comfortable, easily hangable, and perfect to place in your backyard. They serve as a wonderful nook for a good book. Kids love them as well, which is why parents rushed to buy them.
However, the rules of the game changed when the Hang 10 Mini Hammocks were introduced. They were smaller hammocks for kids that were hung next to a larger one. But sadly, this version caused some issues and made it impossible to relax.
Up until now, we’ ve mentioned the really dangerous toys of the ’80s. But here’s a look at some of the weirder ones that were released. These didn’t necessarily cause any harm, but they were pretty eerie, so I guess you could say emotional harm might have been an issue. Like a lot of the toys from the ‘80s, Wuzzles was based on a TV show.
They were some creepy-looking animal-hybrids with wings on their backs. This was a weird concept, and really, looking back, why were we so attracted to them in the first place? Eventually, this concept evolved into the homes that they lived in and the food that they ate.
Here’s another bizarre plushie – Popples. These stuffed toys were designed to look kind of like teddy bears, with pom poms on the edge of their tails. They would also curl up into a ball. In fact, the inspiration for this toy sprung when the creator was rolling up some socks.
These toys were created in the late ‘80s and they were an absolute hit. Nowadays, a toy like this would never become such a hit because kids are way more advanced than they were back in the days (thanks to technology), and it takes a bit more to impress them.
This toy just seems scary. It’s quite easy to understand why it was taken off the shelves (and never saw the light of day again). I mean, if you tried to give your kid one of these, they would likely just toss it out the window. They were released in the mid-’80s by a company named Galoob.
The whole gist of this was that its face morphed between a human and animal face. This would happen by using a vacuum suction technique. There were a bunch of different types with many accessories to add. Technically, they were harmless. In reality, they gave you nightmares.
What in the world were these supposed to be? Aliens? Monsters? Animals? We’re not sure. But they were very popular back in the 1980s and were eagerly noted on many kids’ Christmas wish list. The evil characters came with demons and the good ones with “Trobbits.”
In addition, a TV show came along with these little creepy fellas. These odd-looking creatures were made after the show itself was canceled, but their shelf-life wasn’t any much longer than the show’s screen time.
The problem with toys nowadays is that it takes a lot to impress this generation of kids. They need a lot more creativity and stimulation and loud noises and colors and whatnot. For that reason, this next toy would have surely been a flop if it were to have been released today. Released in the mid-’80s, Moondreamer dolls were simply little figures with glow in the dark hair.
That’s pretty much where the fun ends. There was nothing unique about them other than that. They came out around the same time as My Little Pony galloped onto the scene. Sadly, these dolls weren’t as popular as the ponies and were shelved pretty quickly.
Converters were kind of like Transformers, except that they came a little too late to the market. There are only so many versions a company can release of the same toy before kids get bored. And when you’re up against Transformers, a massive and well-established brand, you’re pretty much doomed.
Converters had a very simple mechanism to them – they converted into other toys. As cool as that sounds, they never got their own TV show to accompany their awesomeness, which may be the reason they failed miserably. They also transformed into animals, which wasn’t very appealing apparently.
The idea behind this creation is a tad bizarre and its theory is a bit more advanced than anything a child should try and figure out. Produced in the late years of the decade by Mattel, these warriors were part of a group of evil soldiers. They would hide in everyday items like cans for example.
But while there was no TV show or anything to promote these toys, they were shelved pretty quickly. There was only just one brief pilot episode that aired but that was that. Nowadays, there’s no way this concept would have worked out any better.
Parents normally tell their kids not to play with their food, but it appears that a toy company in the ’80s decided to change the rules of the game. Mattel released a line of toys named Food Fighters, which consisted of two teams. One was good – the Kitchen Commandos and the other team was bad – the Refrigerator Rejects.
The design of these toys included some most popular junk food brands. Sadly, they never took off (and we have a feeling they wouldn’t do any better today either). Essentially, the game had no storyline. It was just plain weird.
At the end of the day, dolls will always be popular. They keep evolving over the years and companies have been releasing more variety so that each doll looks more realistic. In the ’80s, Mattel decided to manufacture dolls that lasted for just three short years.
In the mid-late ’80s, kids could buy My Child toys. Dolls that came in a variety of skin tones and with a diverse range of hair colors. But these dolls were a bit weird-looking and ended up being a total flop. I believe there are still a few figures floating around on Amazon or something.
Metal playgrounds are something that just gradually vanished from our lives. In most places in the world today, they’re basically non-existent. Back in the ’80s though, they were everywhere.
Jungle gyms, slides, and teeter-totters were all made of metal. And really, who didn’t enjoy sliding down a metal slide under the blazing hot sun while feeling inferno-like levels of burn on their skin. To be fair, while the disappearance of metal playgrounds was a wise decision, most kids from the ‘80s and ‘90s probably have some really fond, nostalgic memories.
This list doesn’t include just regular old toys. Books are included as well! And really… creepy children’s books are just, well, they’re everywhere. But let’s stick to one of the eeriest ones out there – Coraline, written by Neil Gaiman.
Gaiman’s eerie story (which is spooky enough to scare the heebie-jeebies out of any adult) centers around a girl with buttons for eyes and a thirst to venture out into the world! We don’t want to spoil it for you but in case you were thinking of reading this book to your kid – then don’t.
The Jungle Book
Disney has been releasing movies ever since the late ’30s, but some of them are truly inappropriate for kids. Several of Disney’s films have been deemed too intense or too gory because they send out a message that parents don’t want their kids to learn.
The reasons why some forbid their kids from watching these memorable classics may vary, but we have one example. Remember the song called “I Wanna Be Like You” from The Jungle Book (sung by an ape called King Louie)? In the case of this musical number, some parents believed it is racist and depicted African Americans as lazy.
Who can forget the romantic tale of Cinderella and how she was found by the prince after losing her glass slipper? Sigh. As it turns out, many parents weren’t impressed by this stereotypical, damsel in distress tale.
Many believed it sent the wrong message – of a woman saved by a rich man to pull her from her grim situation. Why didn’t she take the initiative herself, huh? Parents wanted their little girls to feel empowered, not helpless and dependent.
Peter Pan may seem like an innocent and playful film for kids. However, the way it depicts Native Americans is what puts it on this list of inappropriate kids’ stuff. The Lost Boys in the film describe indigenous people with racial slurs and make fun of their culture by hopping around in headdresses.
People were so angry with the movie that Disney was forced to make some modifications to suit people’s tastes. They changed a musical number called What Makes the Red Man Red” due to the song’s racial connotations and how viewers perceived it.
The Little Mermaid (1989)
The reason why some parents don’t let their little ones watch The Little Mermaid is like the reason they disapprove of Cinderella. In other words, it’s the same anti-feminist message that is truly outdated and doesn’t deserve a stage anymore.
Ariel gives up her ability to speak and sing just so she could be with a man she had seen once. Also, she disobeyed her dad in the process. While there’s nothing wrong with a little rebellion, the messages in this movie are all wrong.
Some people enjoy hunting, that much is true. But to include hunting in children’s movies may be a bit too much. Some parents were worried about the scene in the moving film Bambi, where Bambi’s mother is shot and killed.
Most deem it too traumatic and worry that their kids are in no way ready to take on such a scene. Looking back, that scene was really sad to watch. To be fair though, opinions vary when it comes to this scene, as some parents view it as an opportunity to introduce their kids to complicated topics.
Beauty and The Beast (1991)
If you’ve seen the movie, I believe you can agree with me that most of the characters in this Disney film made some horrible decisions. For that reason, a lot of parents have decided to skip showing their kids this classic.
There are some really questionable moves; for example, in the movie, the dad gives up his daughter in exchange for some freedom, and when the Beast tries his hand at love, he’s thrown in jail. And somehow, miraculously, Belle the princess falls for the whole shebang. Adding to that the Beast is, well, not human, which some parents saw as a problem.
Fantasia had some parents changing the channel whenever it popped up due to its scary content that many believe isn’t appropriate for such tender ages. The dinosaurs can cause quite a fright for some (remember when the T-Rex decided to kill the Stegosaurus?).
The movie also included some nudity scenes, and even if nothing specific was shown, some still feared that it could lead to unwanted conversations with their youngsters. Combine these two facts and you get a film that many believe was better to skip.
The Aristocats (1970)
The Aristocats was a fun movie, right? Actually, there’s quite a lot of racism in it, which many parents understandably don’t appreciate. For example, there’s a chopstick holding cat with slanted eyes and buck teeth (talk about stereotypes).
The movie even has some pretty sketchy lyrics in its song “Fortune Cookie.” The words basically mock Asian culture, which is precisely another reason many parents decided to ban their children from watching it.
In the ’90s, Disney created a wonderful movie that put Native-American culture on center stage. However, with the release of Pocahontas, they were bombarded with a host of criticism. Disney tried to release the next big hit, but they strayed so far from the actual truth that people refused to let their kids watch it.
Parents believed the movie romanticized serious issues like forced marriage when Pocahontas was still a child (it’s disgusting when you think about it). Add to that the false depiction of historical “facts” and you get a twisted movie.
Back in the ’40s, the world was introduced to Dumbo, a movie made at a time when racial segregation was still prevalent with the Jim Crow laws. This movie basically reinforced this way of viewing humans because one of the birds in the film was named Jim Crow.
Moreover, one of the songs that the birds sang in the movie referenced racist minstrel shows. There was even a song named “The Song of the Roustabouts” that makes fun of African American workers in a way that left viewers horrified.
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1995-2000)
For a long, long time, Saturday mornings were a time when people, and in particular children, would sit down in front of the TV and enjoy animated shows. Nearly all the biggest networks aired cartoon shows that were meant for kids.
Some TV shows though were based on movies that weren’t meant for a younger audience; for example, Ace Ventura, which today is recognized as a problematic comedy. Even though the film was meant for adults, the cartoon was viewed by many kids. The humor wasn’t suitable for youngsters, which made many parents worry.
Back to the Future (1991-1992)
Back to the Future is one of the most beloved movies of the ’80s, and it remains a classic of the period. Rapidly, major networks wanted a piece of that cake and decided to create a cartoon series.
The Back to the Future cartoon takes place after the original film, with protagonists Marty and Doc traveling through time. Sure enough, this lasted just a couple of seasons as many parents believed it was too much for their kids.
At first, it might seem weird that a rather chilling movie like Beetlejuice would one day become a TV series. But that was exactly the case. And the thing is, it worked! But that’s probably because the same guy who directed the film signed on to be the executive producer of the show.
This animated series had a quirky and one-of-a-kind animation style with a talented voice cast to accompany the bizarre storyline. While it did a great job at recapturing certain parts in the film, it also managed to spook children out.