Toys are all fun and games until somebody gets hurt.

As the U.S. toy industry began to take off in the 1950s and '60s, emergency rooms noted a rise in ingested toy pieces, and doctors reported frequent eye injuries from toy arrows and ear injuries from cap guns.

Toy safety standards emerged during this time when post-World War II incomes and families started expanding, and the toy industry began to grow.

There were some isolated incidents of toy banning, such as when New York's director of safety advised state fire chiefs to seize fake Davy Crockett coonskin caps from stores in 1955. Made of shredded paper, the caps burst into flame "after the most casual exposure to a live cigarette or to any spark."

In 1967, the National Commission on Product Safety was established, and two years later it banned eight toys. Among them was the Zulu toy blowgun, which was responsible for numerous children accidentally ingesting plastic darts, and the Empire Little Lady Stove, which could reach temperatures of 600 degrees.

Under existing law, such toys weren’t considered dangerous because they weren’t made of hazardous substances.

In 1969, President Richard Nixon signed the Toy Safety Act into law, which authorized the testing and banning of hazardous toys. A year later, 39 toys were banned.

By 1974, the newly established Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) had banned more than 1,500 toys. Among them were a highly flammable Smokey the Bear tent and a Betsy Wetsy doll held together with a straight pin.

During the 1970s, toy industry representatives accused the federal government of taking its regulations too far, arguing that it’s not always poor toy design that causes injury but parents’ improper selection and use of toys.

Today, the CPSC regulates the sale and manufacture of playthings, and it keeps detailed records on toy-related injuries. Despite the regulations, toy-related deaths still occur.

In 2011, there were 13 reports of toy-related fatalities in children younger than 15. Most of the deaths were from asphyxiation.

Take a look at some famous toys that were deemed too dangerous for playtime.

Lawn darts

lawn darts were banned due to toy safety issues

After three deaths and more than 7,000 injuries, the CPSC banned this horseshoes-style yard game played with weighted metal darts in 1988.

Sky Rangers Park Flyer Radio Control Airplanes

Sky Rangers Park Flyer Radio Control Airplane deemed unsafe toy

The CPSC recalled these toys in 2007, noting that they "can explode near the consumer's head, posing a risk of temporary hearing loss and injuries to eyes, face and hands."

Cabbage Patch Snacktime Kids

Toy safety standards led to ban of Cabbage Patch Snacktime Kid

These dolls featured battery-powered mechanical jaws that allowed them to "eat" plastic snacks, but the dolls kept on chewing no matter what found its way inside their mouths — including fingers and hair — and Mattel recalled them in 1997.



This toy earned its name from the two large acrylic balls, which made a loud noise when they hit each other. When swung too hard though, the balls could shatter.

U-238 Atomic Energy Lab

U-238 Atomic Energy Lab

In 1951, the inventor of the Erector set released this lab that contained four uranium-bearing ore samples. It originally sold for $49.50, but was pulled from the shelves after several months due to concerns that children could ingest the radioactive materials.

Related toy safety stories on MNN:

Click for photo credits

Photo (lawn dart): TheDamnMushroom/flickr

Photo (airplane): CPSC

Photo (doll): Banned Toy Museum

Photo (Clackers): Wikimedia Commons

Photo (lab): Wikimedia Commons

Laura Moss writes about a variety of topics with a focus on animals, science, language and culture. But she mostly writes about cats.

Toy safety: Were these toys ever a good idea?
Take a look at how U.S. toy safety standards came about and consider some of the most famous banned toys.