Of course consumers want toys to be safe. No one wants to give a child a doll made with toxic materials, or a gadget that might spontaneously combust. But for all of the real-life mishaps that have afflicted toy lines, there are plenty of crazy conspiracy theories about toys, too. You've probably heard a few of these myths about toys, from the spooky to the downright silly.
Plenty of toy myths focus on government meddling, whether out of parental fear that shadowy powers are out to corrupt innocent young minds, or just garden-variety paranoia. And then there are the stories that are almost too weird to consider. Why would Beanie Babies be filled with spider eggs? And could Pokemon actually cause cancer?
If you're curious about toy conspiracy theories, be prepared to laugh, cringe, and do a whole lot of eye-rolling.
In April of 2015, a story circulated about a couple who bought a "rare" Princess Beanie Baby from a garage sale. This limited-edition toy was made to commemorate Diana, Princess of Wales, and proceeds benefited her memorial fund. The couple researched the value of the bear, and found that it was worth an astounding $93,000. They promptly put it on eBay for that price, and '90s kids everywhere went rushing to their old toy collections to see if they had any winners, too.
Bad news, collectors: this story is false. Most Beanie Babies are still selling below their original asking price, including Princess.
This particular myth has more to do with misleading headlines than an actual hoax. It all began when scientists at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in 2005 found a new gene that, when aberrant, could potentially cause cancer. They called it the POK Erythroid Myeloid Ontogenic factor or POKEMON. This lead to headlines everywhere saying "Scientists Find that POKEMON Causes Cancer." Some people read just the headline, and jumped to the natural conclusion that the articles referred to the children's games.
Pokemon USA was none too happy about the mix-up, and actually threatened to sue the cancer researchers for their inappropriate naming. The researchers quickly changed the name, but not before the confusion had spread to many concerned parents.
On November 5, 2014, the satirical website Clickhole put out an article joking that Beanie Babies were actually filled with spider eggs rather than little plastic beans. Instead of checking the source or laughing it off, people on the Internet started spreading the story around as fact. Parents and collectors alike became concerned that their Beanie Babies were going to bust a seam and give birth to a whole bunch of bouncing baby spiders. As you might assume, there was absolutely zero truth to this story.
Video Game Cabinets Were Used To Experiment With Mind Control
Ever since the invention of video games, concerned parents have worried that they're a corrupting influence on the mind. All those worries came to a head when a rumor began spreading about a video game cabinet in arcades that could possibly control people's minds.
The legend of Polybius goes a little differently depending on who you hear it from. In Portland, OR in the early '80s, an arcade game supposedly started making people feel a little funny. They had headaches, did strange things, and felt like they could not control their actions. Then, mysterious men in black would show up to the arcade and collect data from the machine.
To this day, there is no actual evidence that the game existed, though there are many fan versions. Some have compared it to project MKUltra, but in reality, there is no sign that Polybius or any other video game has been used for mind control.