One of the trade journals that hobby retailers receive recently ran a story on the Ten Most Dangerous Toys ever made. This piqued my interest, so I thought I’d crawl through my attic to see if I could find any of them.
As of right now, I haven’t. (More on that later . . .) But I did re-discover a couple of other old toys.
These were made from real wood!
From the child-like scrawl on the roof pieces, I used them to build Fort Sumter and the Alamo. Yes, I know now that the Alamo was not built like a log cabin, but I did plan on putting stucco over it.
Judging by my attempts to recreate my childhood, it’s a good thing that I didn’t go into construction.
Lincoln logs are still made, and they’re still made out of wood. Here’s a snippet of what’s on K’NEX website:
“Part of the K’NEX family, LINCOLN LOGS were invented in 1916 by John Lloyd Wright, son of the famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and has been entertaining children for almost a century.
Recently named one of the top retro toys of 2013 by Grandparents.com, LINCOLN LOGS is a classic construction toy beloved by children of all ages. Playing with LINCOLN LOGS encourages creativity, inspires imaginations, helps children devleop fine motor skills and experience problem-solving.
The logs used in all LINCOLN LOGS sets are, and always will be, made from real wood. LINCOLN LOGS offers building sets that combine wood logs with plastic accessories or sets that contain 100% wood parts—just like you remember!”
It’s comforting knowing that they’re still made from real wood, but I’m afraid it didn’t do anything for my motor skills.
This one IS a dangerous toy!
When I pulled some of the pieces out of the tube, I almost sliced my thumb. It’s made from real metal – not some sort of genuine synthetic plastic. The edges are sharp. It came with instructions, but I must have lost them through the passage of time. The picture shows about a far as I could get in assembling it.
Erector Sets are still around, too. Here’s a blurb from their website:
“Challenge the boundaries of your imagination and have fun discovering the world of real engineering with the Meccano-Erector Multimodels 3-in-1 Rescue set!
Develop logic and hand motor skills as you build and rebuild each vehicle, or design own. Your first rescue mission is to construct a Fire Truck that can tackle a towering inferno with its full metal exterior and real extendable ladder! Use the easy to follow step•by•step instructions and real wrench and hex tool to build your models. Display and play with your finished Fire Truck, then rebuild it as another rescue model! With the pieces in the Meccano•Erector Multimodels 3•in•1 Rescue set you can also build a Rescue Airboat or Rescue Helicopter with a revolving rotor. Or use the pieces provided to create any project you imagine!
Once again, I found another career I wasn’t suited at – engineer. But at least this one – just as the Lincoln Logs promised – help develop logic and motor skills! (As in – it’s logical to think that sharp edged objects can cut and ‘let’s see how fast I can get my fingers out of the way.’)
This was in a generic box having lost the original, so I’m not sure what its name is but I’m pretty sure it was called “Young Architect”. I remember building some pretty impressive structures with this and then having the little plastic army men fight battles on it. Come to think of it, the little plastic army men fought battles in the Lincoln log buildings too.
And guess what. They still make this toy. It’s made by Slinky.
From their website:
“Draw, design, and build – Who knew architecture could be so easy?
Everything you need to plan, design, and build your own professional 3D model building is here, waiting for your creative hands to get to work. Grab one of the six large pieces of paper and start thinking about what your dream home will be.
Now that everything’s planned out, start connecting the fifty acrylic walls with the fifty connector stand blocks to actually build a 3D model of the home you designed.
You can even finish it off with the sheet of peel-and-stick doors and windows!”
I did pretty good with this toy, so maybe I should have become an architect.
Most Dangerous Toy
And what was deemed the Most Dangerous Toy Ever Made?
That distinction goes to the Gilbert Jr Scientist Atomic Energy Lab. It came complete with 4 pellets of U-238 Uranium.
Here’s what How Stuff Works said about it:
“Maybe you think it’s obvious that including uranium in a child’s toy isn’t an especially good idea. But apparently that never occurred to the makers of the Gilbert Atomic Energy Lab. Described when it was sold in the early 1950s as “the most elaborate Atomic Energy educational set ever produced” it featured four Uranium bearing ore samples and a preformatted order form for more. Even in an age when science sets routinely came with substances like potassium nitrate (a component of gunpowder) and sodium ferrocyanide (these days classified as poison), the Atomic Energy Lab was positively glowing with danger.”
Imagine bringing that to school as a science project.
“And now for my demonstration I’m going to take this hammer and smash this pellet of Uranium 238. I call it splitting the atom.”
(Duck and cover…..)
A Cautionary Tale
A customer told the story about a science project idea her son had — testing the effectiveness of different hand sanitizers. The process would be for the youngster to wash his hands with different sanitizers, start a culture in a petri dish, and see which one had the least growth on it.
The science teacher at the finest boys’ Catholic high school in Lake Vista – – (for non-locals that’s a neighborhood in New Orleans) said he couldn’t do it.
Because it’s considered a bio-hazard!
Guess that teacher wouldn’t have approved of my atom smashing idea either!
Photos by Jeff Junker, except for the Kid and the set which are courtesy of How Stuff Works