These days, if a stuffed animal's plastic eye so much as wiggles, that toy is recalled faster than you can say "class action lawsuit." Back in the day, though, child safety consisted of just getting out of the way and letting natural selection do its thing. If a kid was too dumb to play with a toy the right way, well, he'd just have to learn to get along with one less eye.
That meant molten glass, molten metal, hazardous chemicals -- all were included in toys back then ... on purpose.
#8. Gilbert Glass Blowing Set
That kid behind him is eagerly waiting for a bong.
Glass blowing, if you didn't know, is the art of working with molten fucking glass to make your very own glass containers. Oh, and you do it by blowing into a wad of molten glass with your mouth. Bizarre as it sounds, glass blowing was considered a useful skill for a young man to have half a century ago. Universities actually required chemistry students to make their own test tubes, once they were done carving their desks out of lumber.
They'll be fine if they don't inhale. Or slip.
Keep in mind that in order to be able to change the shape of the glass, first it has to reach its softening point, which is around 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The Gilbert Glass Blowing Set encouraged children to try this with their bare hands in order to carry out a series of wildly irresponsible experiments detailed in the manual:
We did find that when the glass becomes red hot it removes all the skin from our hands.
Another one involved blowing up a bubble of hot glass until it burst in your face, as if that's not how every single project would end anyway.
#7. Gilbert Molten Lead Casting Kit
"Over 10 IQ points lost with every pack!"
Gilbert's Kaster Kits (yes, Gilbert, the same people who gave you the glass blowing kit) allowed you to create your own army of tiny metallic minions ... which sounds kinda awesome until you realize it involved casting them from molten lead by yourself.
Try not to feel like Saruman while you do so, we dare you.
As in, put metal slugs into a little melting pot, and once they were molten, scoop up the molten metal and pour it into a mold. That really sounds like a risk someone should be paying you to take, not the other way around.
These sets came out in the late 1920s and early 1930s, but holy shit, we're pretty sure they'd invented common sense by then.
They included supplies for making soldiers, battleships, airplanes, cannons and horses, among other things. Ten bucks says more than one kid injured his hands trying to hastily reshape a hot chunk of lead into a nudie girl.
Or you could use a knife to sculpt boobs directly into the mold. We've given this some thought.
Later models did include a machine that did the pouring, but it still had an open top, which doesn't sound like that much of a safety improvement ... despite the ads' best efforts to convince us otherwise:
"Absolutely safe"? That sad ghost-boy face haunting the kit says otherwise.
#6. Stevens' Model Dockyard Locomotive
There has to be something wildly dangerous about this thing to make us care.
In 1843, realizing that boys might want a toy train that did more than just sit there, the Stevens Company created the Model Dockyard Locomotive, one of the first ones that actually moved. Of course, the main reason why toy trains didn't move up to that point was simply that the technology didn't exist. The Model Dockyard Locomotive got around that limitation by using a real steam-propelled engine that required kids to pour either kerosene or alcohol into the train and then light it.
It also comes in a "battered pipe-bomb" edition.
It even came with a little boiler attachment to heat the water. Apparently, 19th century adults had a lot more faith in kids not accidentally setting themselves on fire than we do.
Either that or they really hated children.
But wait, that's not the dangerous part yet. The toy steam engines of this era were nicknamed "dribblers" or "piddlers" because they tended to piss a continuous stream of alcohol or kerosene-laden water as they rolled along the floor. This safety hazard didn't stop the Model Dockyard Locomotive from becoming a popular children's toy in England back then, mainly on account of the strength of its "Fuck safety! This thing fucking moves!" slogan.
Thankfully modern action cinema has made us aware of the dangers of leaking fuel.
Also, at this point toy trains didn't even have tracks, so kids could just set them on a path of destruction across the house and then light the kerosene coming out of the back, leaving a blazing trail of death. (Or at least that's totally what we would've done.)
The fire speaks to us.
#5. Powermite Working Power Tools
Ahhh, look at the tiny serrations on that blade!
Powermite Tools allowed kids to play with fun-sized replicas of the tools Dad used every day at work, including the one that tragically cut both his hands off. Yes, unlike that pansy-ass plastic shit they sell now, these were actual working tools made of die-cast metal, only recognizable as a children's product due to the fact that they were smaller.
"Small, sharp things can't hurt you."
The blades in that circular saw up there probably aren't sharp enough to pierce through a human skull, but still, we dare you to find a used set on eBay that doesn't come decorated with suspicious red stains.
But hey, you can also use them as ninja stars!
Another winning Powermite product was the battery-operated table saw, which looks like a hamster-sized version of a James Bond death trap (and was probably used as such). If mutilating himself or others wasn't enough, a boy could also "play" with the Powermite router, hand drill, orbital sander, buffer, drill press and sabre saw. Somehow.
Note that the sabre saw comes with a spare blade, in case the first one has been dulled by bone.
The sets came with instructions to build lame little projects out of balsa wood and Styrofoam -- as if that was enough to distract boys from realizing that they could also wreak havoc with these things. Meanwhile, girls were stuck with their lame but perfectly safe little dolls and stuff like that ... right?