Childhood’s Most Dangerous Toys…But They’re Fun!

by Marshal M. Rosenthal

There was a time when safety and toys didn’t have anything to do with each other. Back in the “good old days” (read that as the ’50s and ’60s), pretty much anything could be made in the USA for children to have fun with and to heck with the consequences. Here’s some examples of what we now know were disasters waiting to happen and which would never make it through the toy censors today. But boy were they fun!


Consider it the grandpa of today’s 3-D printers: place the plastic sheet on the heating element and let it soften before swinging it over onto the object to be duplicated as you pump out the air. Of course there couldn’t be any protection on the sheet — think of it as an exposed hot plate — so a misplaced finger touched to its surface would result in one screaming kid running for Mom.

Shootin’ Shell Cap Guns

Shootin' Shells

courtesy of & ©

Mattel decided to go beyond a simple “bang” by coming up with realistic, working ammunition to use with their cap guns. Now any kid wanting to be a cowboy, policeman, detective or crook had to learn how to load bullets first. That the projectile fit on the casing and then was fired by a built-in spring when struck by the gun’s hammer was as much genius as obvious. That it could easily put out an eye of little sister or the cat should have been too.

Nuclear Physics Atomic Energy Lab

A bombs were big stuff back when the cold war was hot. So what better way to soothe a child’s fears than by giving him his own nuclear play set? And what good would it be if it didn’t come with radioactive samples to experiment on? No, lead outerwear wasn’t included.



(c) is “That Lost in Space Guy” – Spike

Giving kids the finger was easy with this hard plastic representation of a digit. It’s scary appearance was only moderated by the variety of missiles it could fire and which could be aimed at close range so as to cause mayhem. And don’t get us started on whether anyone ever accidentally fired it off while picking their nose with it.

We bet the theme song's playing in your head right now.

We bet the theme song’s playing in your head right now.

Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture. Visit his website.

Mark Setrakian in exo-suit with training robot used in the time challenge featured in the premiere episode.

Mark Setrakian in exo-suit with training robot used in the time challenge featured in the premiere episode.

Marshal found the sound of the future in Christopher Tyng’s 31st Century Beat and learned how to build his own battle bot when he interviewed Sy-Fy’s Mark Setrakian in Slaughterbots: Roll Out!

More from Marshal Rosenthal

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