|Ahhhh, childhood. Back in the 60's and early 70's, the toy industry provided young Americans with dozens of truly insane toys. Here are a few of my favorites|
I know what you youngsters in the audience are saying..."Hey, that's not dangerous...it uses a damn light bulb!". Wrong my young wards, that's the CURRENT version of the Thingmaker...the original 1960's version used a plug in cooker that reached about 3000 degrees fahrenheit so that it could cook the PlasticGoop in lead molds. After testing the Creepy Crawler for doneness (done properly by poking the Creepy Crawler with a pin, usually done by touching mold with bare finger), the mold was then removed from the inferno using a bent piece of wire and was dunked into a tray of cold water. Kids put up with frequent trips to the emergency ward, because Creepy Crawlers were so damn cool.
The CURRENT version of the Wham-o Slip'n Slide
Note how the toy is placed safely on the lawn. Notice also the inflatable bumper at the end of the slide...how safe!
The 1965 Reverend Dan version of the Wham-o Slip'n Slide
Note how the toy is placed mostly on the lawn, but also onto the concrete patio. Notice also the seam on the Slip'n Slide where the lawn meets the concrete. Unhappy look on young Reverend Dan's face is a result of having split open his chin when it smacked into the patio. Yes, we really did have blue concrete in the backyard...
Another prime bit of sixties mayhem, I'm proud to showcase both the current and Reverend Dan Classic model. Here's how it worked...one would lay this long plastic sheet on the family lawn, hook up the hose to the edge of the slide and secure the slide to the lawn using huge metal stakes. The youth would then run and fling themselves on the slide and skid down the water soaked plastic, coming to a stop on the grass at the end. This toy was responsible for the first time I split my chin open. My lovely sister Karen placed half of the slide on the sidewalk, and you can figure out the rest...I think she was still mad about me cutting her nose with a 45 rpm record when I was three.
Another winner from those fine folks at Whamo, the Air Blaster was a must have for any junior militia man. While not dangerous per say (the gun only shot a burst of air, which was supposed to be aimed at the shown Gorilla target or a pyramid of Dixie cups), most kids managed to push the envelope of the toy. All manner of projectiles were shoved into the gun, providing loads of after school terror.
Look at this thing...what the hell izzit supposed to be? The year is 1963, and this is the first toy that I can really remember. How it works is, you stick this dog or frog or whatthefuk across the room on a hardwood floor. If you can roll a ball into the dog/frog/whatthefuk's waiting arms, then the thing becomes a alive and crawls toward you, returning the ball...a fun toy as I remember, but this is one damn bizarro toy to be lurking around the early sixties.
Here it is, the deadliest toy of them all! Oh sure, it looks like a harmless water toy, but this toy strangled me and practically ALL of my friends at one time or another. You attach the Water Wiggle to your garden hose, and a jet nozzle hidden under that goofy face would rocket the Water Wiggle all over the lawn, wrapping itself tightly around any stationary object, usually somebody's neck. They pulled this version of the toy off the market back in '78 or so, but if you care, you can buy the current impotent version of the Water Wiggle today, the Wacky Wiggle...pathetic looking isn't it...like it has some kinda social disease or something.
The Roller Derby #10 Skate Board
Wait a second, maybe THIS was the most dangerous toy ever. The classic Steel-Wheel Roller Derby Skateboard! You couldn't steer it, you couldn't control it in any way, and if there were a microscopic chunk of gravel on the sidewalk, the damn thing would lock up, tossing you forward in a crushing impact onto the pavement. Still, it was a skateboard. I'm sure many of you out there are rubbing (formerly) long forgotten wounds caused by this little monstrosity.
Mattle and Marx were in a deadly battle over who made the coolest toys...Marx made lots of action playsets: Fort Apache, by MARX!, Cape Canaveral, by MARX!, Kennedy Airport, by MARX! (if you've ever seen a Marx Toys commercial, you understand), but this self contained shooting gallery had to be the coolest offering from the demented toymakers. The gun could shoot one projectile at a time, or, with the flick of a switch, it could shoot like a submachine gun. Guess which setting the gun never saw. Lotsa great targets ("Bag the Lion! Rock the Clown!") and the damn thing made a hell of a racket...four stars!
The Eldon Wood Burning Set
This one still amazes me...what better hobby for a kid than sitting alone in a bedroom burning pictures into sheets of wood...with a red-hot soldering iron with interchangable tips! Burn a bunch of "X" shapes onto the wood, then switch tips to burn "-" lines into the balsa. Did kids ever wait for the damn thing to cool off before switching tips??? Cool as hell, the smell of burning wood is still very intoxicating...but what the hell were they thinking??? Oh, and for safety, they put a piece of cork around the handle of the iron...amazing.