A History of Terrible Toys: The Worst Toys Ever Made

Toys aren’t always fun. Nor are they always safe, useful, or desirable. How many of these terrible toys do you remember?

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Think back to when you were a kid. If you’re like a lot of people, you probably had a favorite toy or two.

But then there were the other toys, whether they belonged to you or your friends. You know… the toys you played with once or twice, then promptly threw into to a dusty pile somewhere.

Those toys were bad enough, but then there are the absolute worst of children’s toys—the ones that were so truly bad we wonder how they were ever greenlit in the first place.

Dangerous? Messy? Scary? Useless? Let’s take a walk down memory lane as we remember the worst children’s toys ever made in our history of terrible toys.

Musical Jolly Chimp (1950s)

The Musical Jolly Chimp, also known more simply as a “cymbal-banging monkey toy,” dates back to the 1950s—and has been terrifying children (and, frankly, adults) ever since.

The fact that this toy has been featured in multiple horror stories, like Stephen King’s The Monkey and the movie The Devil’s Gift, speaks to its off-putting nature.

The problem with the Musical Jolly Chimp is that, even if it wasn’t a scary little monkey with glowing red eyes, it wouldn’t be a very good toy. It claps its cymbals. That’s it.

Could this keep a kid occupied for five minutes? Possibly. Any longer amount of time? Probably not.

The Pet Rock (1970s)

The notorious Pet Rock is just that. A rock. That’s it! It doesn’t have a face. It doesn’t animate in any way. It only does what rocks do… which is, generally, nothing.

It probably won’t come as a shock that the Pet Rock was “invented” by an advertising executive, specifically Gary Dahl, who came up with the idea in 1975.

The Pet Rock was marketed as a true pet. This meant it came in a box with air holes to keep it from suffocating, and it had a bed of straw to keep it comfortable.

Dahl’s idea somehow took off—and it took off so well that other companies tried to repeat his success with other similar ideas.

By 1978, the Pet Rock’s popularity began to wane, so the Fan Club Corporation of America (FCCA) released Kryptonite Rocks, which were simply plain old rocks painted green.

Lawn Darts (1980s)

Image credit: TheDamnMushroom

In case you can’t guess from the name, lawn darts is a game where you throw darts. On your lawn. Usually you play with two people or two teams, in a manner similar to horseshoes.

Horseshoes can be a dangerous game too, but lawn darts took the danger factor and ran with it!

Maybe things were different during the latter half of the 20th century, but it seems fairly obvious in hindsight that a game where players throw pointy metal objects at each other could potentially be disastrous.

In 1970, the FDA began requiring a string of warnings for lawn darts. And even with those warnings, more than 6,000 Americans ended up in emergency rooms between 1980 and 1988 thanks to lawn dart accidents.

Cabbage Patch Snacktime Kids (1990s)

There are two types of people in the world: those who find Cabbage Patch Kids adorable, and those who find Cabbage Patch Kids to be nightmare fuel.

Yet, regardless of which camp you fall into, we can all agree that a Cabbage Patch Kids doll that could eat children’s hair probably doesn’t sound like a good idea, right? Right???

Well, that’s exactly what happened with Cabbage Patch Snacktime Kids. These dolls had a strange gimmick, which was to eat stuff—specifically, they ate little plastic snacks that came included.

Unfortunately, the Cabbage Patch Snacktime Kids were indiscriminate about their eating habits, and they were happy enough to eat pretty much anything that went near their mouths.

If that doesn’t sound scary enough, the rollers in the jaws of Cabbage Patch Snacktime Kids would keep ingesting until the object passed through. If something like your child’s hair got into the mechanism… well, you can imagine.

In 1997, after more than 100 such incidents, Mattel finally gave in and issued a voluntary recall plus a $40 refund for the Cabbage Patch Snacktime Kids.

Nickelodeon Gak (1990s)

Kids like messy stuff. That’s part of the whole “being a kid” experience. Because of this, Nickelodeon Gak may seem like the perfect toy for a kid.

Well, the problem is, Gak isn’t really a toy. It’s not really much of anything. Imagine Play-Doh but much grosser, and that’s pretty much what we’re dealing with here.

What makes Gak somewhat more unfortunate is that it also happens to be a slang term for a street drug.

Was this enough for the product to come off the market? For a short time, yes. But Nickelodeon Gak eventually made its way back into markets and is available for sale even as I write this.

More Childhood Nostalgia for You

These all might seem like toys from a simpler time when we were all a lot dumber than we are now. That’s not the case. Plenty of terrible toys are still out there.

As mentioned above, Nickelodeon Gak is still available. You can buy this weird slime for your kids right now, assuming you never want to be sure that your home is truly clean ever again. There’s worse too.

The “Daddy Saddle,” originally sold by Kenner in the 1950s, is still available to buy from another company. It’s exactly what it sounds like—and as bad as it sounds.

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