When you're a kid, every loud, music-filled commercial for every brightly colored toy grabs your attention instantly and practically enchants you into annoying your parents until they buy it for you - often regardless of how dangerous it actually is. In the '90s, the TV landscape was jam packed with incredible looking toys that promised the world but often only ended up disappointing kids, and that's if they were lucky. The less fortunate ended up getting a face full of spinning plastic fairies or having their hair ripped out by the hungry, gnawing mouth of a soulless Cabbage Patch Kid.
For decades, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has fought to protect children from the unforeseeable (and sometimes very, very foreseeable) dangers of poorly made toys, and issue recalls and product bans. For toys of the '90s, sometimes the danger came from a manufacturing defect, while others were inherently disastrous and it just took the world a little while to realize it. Either way, here's a look at all of the most dangerous '90s toys sold to children and their parents.
The Slide 'n Slide is one of the most beloved backyard summertime toys of all, with its long, plastic trough that serves as a wet, slick surface that kids can rocket down at ridiculous speeds. According to a recall warning from the CPSC, Slip 'n Slides are only meant for children, and "use by adults and teens has the potential to result in neck injury and paralysis." The CPSC continues:
Because of their weight and height, adults and teenagers who dive onto the water slide may hit and abruptly stop in such a way that could cause permanent spinal cord injury, resulting in quadriplegia or paraplegia. The slider's forward momentum drives the body into the neck and compresses the spinal cord.
According to the warning, released in 1993, the company that made the Slip 'n Slide reported "seven adults and a 13-year-old teenager suffered neck injuries or paralysis" just by using them.
Sky Dancers were one of the most exciting toys for kids in the '90s, and presented hours of fun, until your flying, spinning, hovering Sky Dancer flew out a window or into a fireplace or, more commonly, right into your eye.
According to a 2000 recall notice from the CPSC, "The hard plastic Sky Dancers dolls can fly rapidly in unpredictable directions, and can hit and injure both children and adults."
The company that produced Sky Dancers reported more than 150 injuries suffered by consumers that ranged from "scratched corneas and incidents of temporary blindness, broken teeth, a mild concussion, a broken rib, and facial lacerations that required stitches."
This special type of Cabbage Patch Kid had a motorized mouth and children were supposed to feed it plastic fruits and vegetables as it pantomimed an eating motion with its mechanized jaws. In what was a very foreseeable turn of events, reports started rolling in that little children, the exact demographic for the dolls, were instead getting their hair and little fingers stuck inside the cabbage Patch Kids’ hungry maws.
Less than one year after they were introduced to the marketplace, the CPSC ordered a voluntary recall, and Mattel - who claimed no one was seriously injured - offered to payback $40 to anyone who purchased the doll.
Originally invented in 1983 by a high school shop teacher, slap bracelets became the primary fashion accessory of the '90s, with children across the country smacking the thin, fabric-covered steel bands around each others' wrists and ankles all day. As the name brand slap bracelets, known as Slap Wraps, increased in popularity, there was a sharp increase in the importation of cheap, overseas knock-offs, primarily from China, where safety regulations weren't as high of a priority.
The knock-off slap bracelets were made of cheaper fabric that tore more easily, as well as lower-grade steel bands with sharp edges that could rust quickly and shred the protective, decorative fabric covers. Considering the slap bracelets were wrapped around kids' wrists, necks, and ankles, and parents typically don't want their kids smacking sharp pieces of metal onto themselves, it wasn't long before the product started drawing heat from concerned consumers. Some schools in New York banned students from using the bracelets on campus and there were several voluntary recalls across the country.