December is National Safe Toys and Gifts Month.  In 2021 there are three things that a toy cannot have: pointy edges, anything that a kid could swallow, and a tiny lightbulb that can reach 20,000 degrees Fahrenheit (looking at you on that last one, Easy Bake Oven). Allow me to quote every old man ever: “When I was a kid….”

It’s true, though. Almost every toy we played with had a risk of death, maiming or disfigurement. Take, for example, Lawn Darts (also known as “Jarts”).  They were giant plastic darts with a heavy, metal tip…

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Death From Above


These things were weighted so that the metal tip was always pointed straight down if you threw it up into the air. Oh, yeah…the entire point of the game was to throw the dart up into the air. After thousands of injuries and at least three deaths, these things were banned in the 1980s.

Here are the most dangerous “toys” we played with, in the late 20th century.

1.)   BB Guns

Every boy in my neighborhood had one and shooting empty cans is only fun for a short while. Then you have to shoot each other. Our parents were aware that we had “BB gun wars” in the woods and they had sage words of caution for us: “Try to only shoot your friends below the neck”.

2.)   Sweet Gum Ball Fights


Behold, the fruit of the Sweet Gum Tree.  In the springtime when they bloomed, the trees were FULL of these HARD, spikey green balls.  I’m told that rubber bullets really hurt so, imagine that except with pointy mace-like barbs on them. Again, “try not to aim at the head”.


3.)    Bicycle (Jousting)

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Not, as you might think, using sticks to knock each other off the bike. The idea was to JAM the stick (usually a broom handle or golf club) into the FRONT spokes of the other kid’s bikes. When we had 20 kids playing you never knew where the attack was going to come from. If done properly, the bicycle would stop and the kid would go flying over the handlebars and onto the asphalt. Good times... Good times...

CHECK THEM OUT: 100 years of Christmas toys, gifts and fads

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