The 8 Most Wildly Irresponsible Vintage Toys

#4. Working Toy Ovens, Irons and More


Yeah, the burn marks on that toy pretty much say it all. That's an electric toy stove from the 1930s or '40s that could actually be plugged in and heated up, which isn't just dangerous, it's also completely pointless. What are you supposed to heat in there, a canape? Some peanuts? Your brother's mutilated hamster?

That's terrible. Hamsters are more suited to waffle irons.

Electrical kitchen toys were actually pretty popular back then, because when you're training your daughter to be a housewife it's also important to make her aware of the inherent dangers that come with the job. Not doing so would be irresponsible. Stores sold tiny irons, coffee pots, bread toasters and so on, all with names like Sunny Suzy or Little Deb, as if a cutesy name was somehow enough to make them remotely entertaining. However, even the ones that prided themselves on being safer than the competition were negligent:

"Ruth later finds out what 'skin graft' means."

Note that the "double insulation" that supposedly protects you from heat and electricity is only available if you're willing to dish out the extra 50 cents for the more expensive iron. Also, it only heats up to 250 degrees? As the website we cribbed this ad from points out, that's 40 degrees hotter than boiling water. But hey, kids gotta learn somehow.

What most of them learned was "Never trust your parents."

#3. Gilbert Chemistry Set

Baby's first meth lab.

There's that Gilbert guy again. This may look like a pretty safe (boring) science kit, but among the 56 chemicals included in the Gilbert chemistry set was some potentially deadly stuff. Like potassium permanganate, which, besides being poisonous, has been known to make things catch fire. Or ammonium nitrate, the same chemical that the U.S. wants to regulate now because it's used in homemade bombs. All that came in the same box -- at no point in history has being a young nerd on his birthday been so dangerous.

But come on, this was a more innocent time. Mr. Gilbert probably never even thought that kids would use his sets for that sort of --

"Remember, kids, don't be evil!"

OK, no, scratch that. The manual itself taught kids how to create explosions with gunpowder -- on the first page -- and the sole safety feature consisted of a single line telling them not to attempt the same experiment on a larger scale ... which only served the purpose of informing kids that this was a possibility.

"Do not attempt to ... hot dog, I just had an idea!"

After remaining popular for the first half of the 20th century, Gilbert chemistry sets fell from grace in the '60s and '70s (following a series of entirely predictable lawsuits). However, at one point these hazardous kits were endorsed by both Good Housekeeping and Superman himself.

Of course you'd say that, Superman, you're freaking invulnerable. What do you care?

But it turns out that chemistry sets weren't the only children's toy stuffed with dangerous chemicals back then ...

#2. Austin Magic Pistol

"We call this one the 'Jetson special'."

Made in the 1950s, the Austin Magic Pistol allowed you to shoot plastic balls at your friend's penis. We suppose you could shoot them at other things, too, but honestly why would you?

So how did it work, was there a loaded spring in there or something? Nope, the balls were fired by mixing "magic crystals" and water in the back of the gun -- and by "magic crystals" they really meant "dangerous chemicals," of course.

And by "gun" they meant ... no, no, this is an actual explosive device.

Calcium carbide is on all kinds of hazardous materials lists because when it comes into contact with liquid, it forms a flammable gas. This isn't some unforeseen side effect the makers of this toy could have never predicted -- it's exactly how those freaking balls were fired. There was a literal explosion happening in the back of the toy gun every time your gentle child fingers pressed the trigger, which would launch the ball up to 70 feet away.

Just a little bit of spit was enough to cause the reaction, as demonstrated in this video of a couple of dudes firing one in a trailer park (also they appear to have tried some of the magic crystals themselves):

And if you used up all the powder, maybe you could borrow some ammonium nitrate from your Gilbert chemistry set for a bigger chemical reaction.

The best toys are dangerous for everyone.

#1. Atomic Energy Lab

This is how Lex Luthor disguises his superweapons.

As a kid, did you ever swallow or at least put in your mouth a small piece of a toy or play set? Did you grow an extra arm because of it? No? Then you probably didn't have the Atomic Energy Lab.

You see, there was a different approach to nuclear power in the '50s and early '60s -- atomic energy was our friend and the way of the future, and it would never do anything to hurt us. However, it's still hard to believe that anyone would entrust kids with radioactive material (even in small doses).

That "bonus" is actually your bounty if captured alive.

Yet, the Atomic Energy Lab kit produced by the American Basic Science Club came with real samples of uranium (which is radioactive) and radium (which is a million times more radioactive than uranium). Since the mere presence of radioactive material in a children's product clearly wasn't insane enough, some of the experiments detailed in the manual also required kids to handle blocks of dry ice. Dry ice, by the way, has a temperature of minus 109.3 degrees Fahrenheit, and it's recommended that it only be handled while wearing gloves (none were included).

It was always doubtful whether Gilbert and their mutated customers would be around after 50 years.

Gilbert, of course, couldn't be left behind and introduced their own Atomic Energy Lab, which also came with radioactive samples and even a little Geiger counter that kids could use to measure the amount of radiation left in their bodies after each play session.

Apparently you CAN just walk into a store and buy plutonium in 1955, Doc Brown.

For more toys children shouldn't have, check out 11 Modern Technologies That Are Way Older Than You Think. Or learn about toys we wished we grew up with in 8 Old School Toys That Got Badass Makeovers.

And stop by LinkSTORM to see what happens when Swaim sets up his own atomic energy lab.

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