While driving in my car, listening to my favorite Christmas tunes over the radio with my dog Dave, I often drift back to Christmas Eve as a child in the early 1950s. The Sears Catalog had been strategically placed on the coffee table, next to the couch, opened to the toy section. All of my choices were boldly marked, and hopefully, mom and dad took note of my choices and caved in. 

This was in an era before the U.S. government decided to get involved in what was proper and safe for children to play or experiment with. These were the same curious “Baby Boomers” who would take “experimentation” to new levels in the late 1960s. As time rolled on, more and more government agencies would step in and begin to monitor what kids could play with, listen to and watch. Here are just a few of the banned toys that left the shelves of American toy stores. 

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Dangerous Boomer Toys From Decades Past   

  • Lawn Darts: The darts were modeled after the classic “dart” used in the dart games played in pubs and home “rec rooms”. But the lawn dart was a monster, compared to the dartboard dart, equipped with a 12-inch long pointed metal tip that would pierce the ground, and unfortunately, anything else in its path. Jarts was a popular brand. The game was based on “horseshoes”, with the darts being flung into a plastic ring on the ground, instead of a metal stake. In 1970, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration classified the sharp-pointed darts as a “mechanical hazard" and prohibited their sale. 
  • Gilbert Chemistry Set: Chemistry sets usually ended up under the “smart kids” tree, right next to the Gilbert Erector Set. The sets were chock full of cool chemicals that a kid could perform experiments with. Such chemicals as Ammonium chloride, Ferric ammonium sulfate, Tartaric acid, and Phenolphthalein. It was in the ‘60s when the government got involved with the Federal Hazardous Substances Labeling Act and quenched the fun. 
  • Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab: From the people who provided the potentially toxic Gilbert Chemistry Set. In 1950, Mr. A.C. Gilbert saw the use of the newly acquired atomic energy as a potential toy for young upcoming nuclear scientists. His U-238 Atomic Energy Lab included a Wilson cloud chamber, a spinthariscope, four samples of Uranium-bearing ores, and an electroscope to measure radioactivity. A Geiger-Mueller radiation counter was also thrown in, which would probably click constantly while sitting in Billy’s bedroom next to his toy chest. Fortunately, because of its whopping price of $49.50, only a few of the labs sold and was discontinued in 1951 
  • Wham-O Air Blaster: What could be so bad about a gun that just shot air? For some pranksters, it was hard to resist the temptation of aiming it at the side of your friend’s head, resulting in ringing ears, and in some cases, deafness. Also, some kids quickly figured out that the gun could do more than just shoot cans off from a fence post. In fact, any object that could fit down the muzzle could become a projectile, shot with missile-like force! It’s not hard to imagine some of the outcomes of that modification. It certainly backs up the Wham-O brand name.
  • Thingmaker: Also known as Creepy Crawlers, it was a nifty gadget that would heat “Plastic Goop” to a whopping 390 degrees. The toy consisted of several die-cast metal molds of various bug-like creatures. Just pour the goop into the mold and push the button. Many kids were impatient, during the cooling process, and scorched their fingers on the semi-molten product. In 1973, the newly formed Consumer Product Safety Commission stepped in and ruined the fun. 

These are just a hand full of the banned toys that eager boomers would dream about on Christmas Eve, while Sugar Plum Faries danced in their heads. A future upcoming article will cover the banned playground equipment. 

Friendly Prank In Kalamazoo Leads To A Fun Christmas Attraction For Families

When Sydney Jean got home from Thanksgiving vacation and discovered there was a TRAIN sitting in her front yard in the Winchell neighborhood on Benjamin st., she could have gotten mad. But as it turns out, she already knew who was responsible and called him right out on it. I reached out to her about the incident and she told me, to explain the prank she had to start at the beginning of her and her significant other started to date: