Toys That Kill

Deadly toys discussed include Steven’s Model Dockyard Locomotive, Slip ‘n’ Slide, lawn darts, Cabbage Patch Snack Time doll, the Gilbert Atomic Energy Lab, Flubber, Silly String, Koba Kick, Hang Ten Mini-Hammock, Bucky Balls, Water Balz, Aquadots and more!

Music: “The Toy Trumpet” by Raymond Scott

CHARITY DE JOUR: British Toy & Hobby Association –
Established in 1944 to raise safety standards of practice in the toy industry, from safety in design to manufacturing of the products.





35 Responses

  1. Gama radiation is made of rays(photons), not particles. I refer you to your own episode on radiation.

    1. “Gama radiation” is spelled “gamma radiation”. I refer you to a dictionary and to The Iron Law of Nitpicking.

      To be fair, Toren was reading the Wikipedia article about the toy set which incorrectly said “gamma particles”: Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Laboratory – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

      Polonium-210, mentioned in the Atomic Energy Lab, is the chemical suspected to have been used to assassinate Alexander Litvinenko and has caused other deaths.

    2. It’s all quantum anyway. I find it’s more a matter of taste than substance whether you call photons particles or not.

  2. I can verify that a patch of hair yanked out by a toy does grow back. Eventually. At about age 10 I had a bald spot for a few weeks or months about the size of an American quarter from a battery operated car I got for Christmas: my hair wrapped around the wheels and as it kept on going towards my face I panicked and ripped it out.

    I still don’t like Jeeps much. Or Christmas.

  3. That Russian Roulette toy sounds very similar to the idea of the game where everyone puts a finger into a slot and one person gets zapped – can’t for the life of me remember what they’re called or what to Google for. Useful for drinking games.

    Great ep guys.

  4. I actually owned the gilbert atomic energy lab. I received it a gift from a teacher when I was in high school back in the 80’s. I remember using the Geiger counter and fluoroscope. The radiation disks were no good so I would scavenge the Americium sources out of smoke detectors. Of course I had to take the Uranium Ore out of their bottles and play with it.

    While this “toy” sounds dangerous, I am 46 now and haven’t sprouted any tentacles or a 3rd eye.

  5. A major point about the Micronauts: Believe it or not, Baron Karza was NOT a Darth Vader rip-off. At least not directly. Baron Karza’s design was originally modeled on a super-robot called Kotetsu Jeeg. The robot was created by the legendary Go Nagai. Steel Jeeg, as he’s known in the West, aired on Japanese TV a few years before Star Wars.

    When Mego got the rights to sell the toy line in the US, they took the basic models of both Jeeg (Baron Karza) and Panzeroid (both Baron Karza and Force Commander’s centaur form) and repainted/remodeled them. Baron Karza then took on his final form as a cross between Steel Jeeg and another Go Nagai super-robot; Mazinger Z…with a little bit o’ influence from that Lucas guy.

    Toy companies were notorious for doing this back in the day. I don’t even want to get into the whole Transformers/Macross Valkyrie rip-off saga!

    In the end, both Lucas and Go Nagai got the look for Vader from the same source; medieval era samurai armor.

    And Bill Mantlo, the writer who would create the Micronauts comics for Marvel, saw the US rendition of the models and took it from there…

    1. I love this comment! Great info!

      I still own an original Transformers “SkyFire” and he’s definitely a Macross Valkyrie ripoff. A beautiful, transformable metal ripoff. I don’t have his gun of snap-on armor any more. Hm… I wonder if a 3D printer could recreate those lost parts.

      1. The information regarding the Transformers/Macross connection came from the late, great Carl Macek. He was the guy who spliced together three different anime series (Super Dimensional Fortress Macross, Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross and Genesis Climber Mospedia) to create the 80s classic Robotech.

        Mr Macek was a guy who knew where all the bodies were buried. He gave quite an in-depth interview on ANNCast, a weekly podcast from the Anime News Network site, just a few weeks before he died back in 2010.

        To say that it was very informative regarding Japanese/American toy and media licenses, and the shenanigans that go on behind the scene, is an understatement.

        1. You know a LOT about Japanese toys and the American rip-off counterparts. I would say, “Too Much!” but I don’t think it’s really possible to know too much about anything.

          I’m starting to think after reading all these posts, we might already have enough new material for a “Follow-ups: Toys”….

  6. I can personally vouch for the danger of lawn darts. We used to huck them overhand at an old door as kids. The darts would punch right through if you threw them with enough force.

    Here’s another toy that I played with as a kid: Wood Burning Kits. I don’t know if you talked about them and cut it out but I think it deserves a mention. If you are not familiar with a wood burning kit, it is essentially a soldering iron you get really hot then etch pictures on thin pieces of wood. The copy I had was from the 40’s or 50’s and the soldering iron was not equipped with protective guards nor did it have an off switch. You had to plug it in to turn it on and unplug it to turn it off. You can imagine a kid plugging it in then getting distracted an not unplugging it. I certainly don’t have to imagine. My brother did just that and the piece of wood he was etching caught fire. We put it out before it became a serious problem.

    1. Oh man, my sister got something EXACTLY like that as recently as the late 90’s. After I turned into an enterprising teenager I sold it as a soldering iron… For which I guess it was sufficient, but pretty cheesy. Like you said, no off switch and crazy easy to burn yourself. Great for kids!

  7. I remember Lawn Darts, I think we played with them once. It was quickly obvious that they were dangerous… after I accidentally lobbed one over the fence.

  8. I’m a little surprised that Invader Zim wasn’t mentioned in pop culture,as Gaz has a small army of man-eating toys that she threatens her brothers life with.. It’s in the episode in which she is cursed to taste nothing but pig. If anyone watched Invader Zim I was almost sure it would be you guys.

  9. One for the followups: in pop culture you missed “Puppets Who Kill”

    Twisted, hilarious, and may not be well known outside Canada

  10. It’s kind of amazing that anyone ever survives to reach adulthood. As kids we all do stupid stuff. When I was 8 we would play in the woods with hatchets and matches unsupervised all summer long. When we weren’t chopping down saplings to start fires we could often be found digging pit traps or dismantling old swing sets to make weapons. Nobody was ever killed or even seriously injured though. Too bad really, if one of us had accidentally been killed maybe we could have had a moment of fame and been featured on this episode…

  11. Been meaning to add this all week: I was astonished to hear how long that hammock was on the market, given the deaths. What was it, 16 or 17 years?!

  12. I remember in the mid-90s my cousin and I found lawn darts in her shed. We were teenagers and had heard they were banned… so as rebel teenagers do we decided to play a round. And we are both still alive to tell the tale.

  13. I don’t know if it ever claimed a life, but the KFC toy ‘Oopee’ -an inflatable ball that had a small water bladder in it- could change direction and bash you in the nose pretty hard. I don’t remember much of a certain family picnic in the early 90s, but i do remember seeing an Oopie ball wildly tumbling through the air at me.

  14. The story about the murderous Cabbage Patch doll reminded me of when I got a toy electric train snarled in my hair… this is my favorite episode, interestingly.

  15. There is a section of the old SNES game Soul Blazer that takes place in a model and had you fighting miniatures and what not. It’s probably been at least fifteen years since I’ve played it, but for some reason I remember it being particularly frustrating.