Beyond the Mind's Eye - Thoughts & Insights from Marriott_GuyBeyond the Mind's Eye - Thoughts & Insights from Marriott_Guy

Posted on Oct 11th 2012 at 09:43:26 AM by (Marriott_Guy)
Posted under Old as Dirt

While kicking back this past weekend, the unexpected befell this aged bachelor - emergency babysitting duty of my 6 year old niece.  With little time to prepare, it was decided that we would just hang out at my humble abode for the evening.  To my surprise, she was not disappointed at all but actually ecstatic.  This would be her very first visit to my home and entrance to my 'Room of Doom' was included in the evening's events (in addition to a Kung Fu Panda video).

Upon her arrival, she politely declined my offer of the Dora the Explorer juice box and simply looked up at me and cautiously asked "Can we go check out the video games Uncle Terry?"  So off we went, skipping the whole way (why do kids like to skip so much?) to the Man Cave.

She was initially awestruck by all of the mysterious goodies contained within my secret gaming domain.  She had experienced the Nintendo Wii and gaming apps on her iPod touch, but this was a completely different animal.  After receiving my A-OK, she immediately plopped down in front of one of the bookcases to pick out a game for us.

Within a few minutes, she began organizing games taken off the shelf into distinct, but as of yet unidentifiable, piles.  She then stated in a rather dubious manner "Uncle Terry, what are we going to play???"  It was only then that I recognized the pattern: titles were being sorted by their ESRB rating.  Her frustration was being fueled by the inability to quickly locate any "C" (children) or "E" (everyone) rated games.  This realization caused me to pause prior to answering her.  I took a moment to reflect upon my own early years, an era when ignoring similar cautionary flags could actually lead to incurring substantial physical harm ...

Handy Andy Toolbox

Complete with a steel hammer, finishing nails and a metal serrated saw, the Handy Andy Toolbox provided the urchin everything needed to impart destruction.  Family furnishings were primarily the target, but annoying little sisters could also become the recipient of 'Handy Andy Terror'.

Betty Crocker Easy Bake Oven

Looks pretty innocent at first glance, but this demon actually caused more house fires than anything else on this list.  In addition to being able to actually heat your morning biscuit to a fairly high temperature, the Easy Bake Oven excelled at exploding ball point pens, melting crayons and torturing the wayward insect.


For those unfamiliar with Jarts (or lawn darts), the premise is the same as horseshoes but you use high-flying metal tipped darts in lieu of slow moving steel projectiles.  Participation required nimbleness to avoid the errant cast that could turn this seemingly harmless toy into a potential death missile.

Pen Knife

For whatever reason, this always seems to be an item gifted from one's Grandfather.  Receiving one of these multi-functional instruments is almost like a rite of passage for the youngster.  The possibilities this tool afforded were overwhelming, as were the  self-inflicted injuries this device could inflict.

Kaster Sets

Like the Play-Doh Fun Factory, the Kaster Kit enabled  the young buck the ability to craft their own toys.  But instead of using a malleable clay product, the material that was provided was solid lead.  The  manufacturer 'wisely' included an apparatus to heat the lead to its melting point (621 degrees F!!).

Wood Burning Kits

Before the age of electronic labeling devices, the wood burning kit was the inscribing king.  Within a matter of minutes, hooligans could apply their initials to virtually anything.  From baseball mitts to the coffee table, everything could be branded by the youth, including human flesh for the careless.

The Junior Chemist

Now if the Junior Chemistry Set isn't a recipe for disaster, I don't know what is.  With over 20 chemical  compounds, test tubes and its very own Bunsen burner, the adolescent was provided with everything they needed to create any number of mysterious, bubbling cocktails.  Without a doubt, this product had to be the Poison Control Center's biggest nightmare.

Atomic Energy Lab

This has got to be the most outrageous toy in the history of mankind.  This monstrosity came with four different types of uranium ore, a cloud chamber with its own short-lived alpha source and an electroscope.  An optional Geiger counter was also available for purchase, a popular add-on to ensure that radiated family members were appropriately quarantined.

I snapped back to reality to see my niece, still sitting there patiently awaiting my answer.  What game were we going to play?  If I could have survived the hazards detailed above, then she could certainly weather virtually any title within my collection.  A glance down at that young bug quickly dismissed that thought.  To her delight and my dismay, we ended up playing the following, a true horror that rivals any of the items listed above:

High School Musical 3: Senior Year DANCE!
What Hazardous Toys Do You Remember?

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lol, what a delightful story!

I dont remember any particularly dangerous toys at my place. I think my parents were more worried about things with foul language and nudity though than me hurting myself. 
I used to love Jarts, and we had a wood burning kit. 

To demonstrate the sign of the times, I started carrying a pocket knife to school somewhere around 6th grade with no issue.  And during junior high, we all thought ourselves cool when we would slide an unfired .22 shell into that little red Levi's tab on the front of our jackets.  There were no arrests issued or school board meetings scheduled, and no one got hurt.  We were just being cool.
LOVED.  JARTS.  Had a set and still trying to find one.  The end cap came off of the end of one of my yellow jarts and I simply screwed a nut on the end, which typically cut my finger every time I threw it.  I truly miss the days of getting tetanus from my metal Tonka trucks.  Kids these weak.
I was born in the late 80's, 1987 to be exact so these toys do not ring a bell.  pocket knife however is something still popular to this day.  I never really had any video games growing up,  I would have to go over friends houses to play.  But the only time my mom relized she bought me something so voilent was when I bought a PS2 with Grand Theft Auto Vice City.  I loved the game and it is still a great game.  Nothing ever happen of it but it was good times. 

I really do like this article and it was written well.  Hopefully one day you can introuduce your niece to Mortal Kombat or Killer Instinct.  It is a shame if she just sticks to games like High School Musical
Though it pains me to admit, I am old enough to have experienced most of the items portrayed in this article (except that Atomic Energy Lab).  It was certainly a different era back then, but somehow most kids were able to survive it.  Another favorite was the cap \ dart-plunger gun:
Irwin Mainway would have no issues with these toys

@singlebanana: you're a little late... check the first comment. Tongue
I had a chemistry set when I was a kid, but was too scared to play with it, for fear I'd accidentally turn myself into some mutated monstrosity, or burn the house down. I also had a wood burning set I never used, for pretty much the latter reason I never really tried out my chem set.

BTW your list of irresponsible old-timey playthings reminded me of a recent article. And it's no wonder, seeing as how four-and-a-half* of the things you mentioned were also brought up in the article:

*the "half" part being the tool set. Whereas you brought up a hand tool set, the article discussed actual working power tools.
@Zagnorch: From your tone, it seems that you may be insinuating that this article is being copied from, or inspired by, the referenced article,  I was not aware of their post, but found it to be another interesting article on hazardous toys released during my time.  It is not surprising to find others also reminiscing about the oddities released during their/my childhood.  Hopefully you enjoyed my perspective on this topic, with my "four-and-a-half' plus take on the subject.
@Marriott_Guy: @Zagnorch: From your tone, it seems that you may be insinuating that this article is being copied from, or inspired by, the referenced article

I was just struck by how many matches and near-matches there were, is all. I didn't even realize how many there were until I dug the Cracked article up and re-read it. Hey, if it did indeed inspire you, then cool. If not... then, also cool.

BTW my dad still has his old "Handy Andy" tool set. And I remember trying my hand at lawn darts at a cousin's house back in the late '80s...

@Marriott_Guy: As previously stated, I am sure similar articles exist on this vintage gaming topic.  My experience with my niece provided the inspiration for this writing, coupled with subsequent conversations from my father (Atomic Energy Lab) and lady friend (Easy Bake Oven).  As you plainly can see from this article, my personal insights and comments on these items are unique, though maybe not as colorful as those presented in the piece.

Please feel free to share other web articles on this topic, but discontinue your further implications of plagiarism.
i don't remember what it was called, but in the 90s i used to love those toys where you could create little gooey insects by pouring the prepackaged liquid into a metal mold and putting it into a plastic oven. pretty much easy-bake for boys.
@techwizard:  They were called Creepy Crawlers.
@Marriott_Guy: My sincerest apologies if my posts seemed to imply plagiarism on your part; that thought never crossed my mind at all.

BTW did you ever own the atomic energy lab set? That's the most mind-blowing one of all to me...

@techwizard: Were the bugs edible? If so, you might be thinking of the Dr. Dreadful playsets, which are still around:
I was never allowed a chemistry set, my parents where convinced I would find a way to blow up the house. The most dangerous thing I had as a kid would have been my dirt bikes but I don't remember have any particularly dangerous toys.
Back in the ol '84 I was allowed a chemistry set, but to my dismay I never could get anything to explode.  Bubble and stink, yes, but never explode.  I did manage to cook small pizzas using flour tortillas in my sis' Easy Bake Oven though.  Whomever came up with the idea of cooking brownies with a light bulb should be given a (posthumous) high-five.

I also had a large, industrial magnifying glass.  I can also attest that getting burned with it was quite painful.

I think the dancing game is more a hazard to human culture than to personal safety though.  Shows just where the ESRB's thoughts are...
@singlebanana: My dad is selling a set on Craigslist:
He may have other sets too, I know he had a couple that were still in the box. Let me know if you want them, I'll be home this weekend and can get them shipped out to you.
@techie413 ya creepy crawlers that was it

@zagnorch i remember the edible ones too, but i don't think i had that as long, the non-edible seem to stick in my memory better...maybe i ran out of the liquid for the edible ones and we never replaced it.
I remember sooo many of these Terry! My friend down the street had a chemistry set (although we really had no idea what to do with it.) We also had a Matchbox toy that let you melt wax to make cars, which of course we used to burn each other with molten hot wax.

I remember getting a microscope set when I was around 10, which included all sorts of sharp objects like scalpels.

Kids these days have it so easy that it makes survival a snap.
Being a chemist now, It's amazing looking at the kids chem sets. Reading over what is included, all i have to say is yikes! Some of that stuff I can't get a hold of...and I'm a grad student doing hazardous materials research!

Unfortunately, i diddnt have many dangerous toys as a kid...over protective parents...
Glad everyone enjoyed the article.  The only item I was not exposed to was the Atomic Energy Lab (my father told me about that for this article).  Times were sure different back then.

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