Kids in the old days had it rough. When they weren't toiling in coal mines or sweeping chimneys or doing something else that almost certainly covered their rosy cheeks in picturesque soot, they had to go home and play with these friggin' nightmares:
#9. Crandall's Acrobats
In 1867, toymaker, inventor, and probable serial child murderer Charles M. Crandall created these stacking acrobat toys called Crandall's Acrobats. These leering, pasty-faced performers looked less like fun-loving tumblers mid routine and more like they were trying to combine themselves to form some sort of molestation Voltron. Their heads, bodies, arms, and legs were all interchangeable, so the police never quite knew which one was responsible for the abductions. (Trick question: They all were.)
Abductors and captives end up in the dismemberment piles.
We thought they might look less creepy when disassembled. We thought wrong.
#8. Kobe Dolls
When you go on vacation, you probably feel obligated to buy some kitschy souvenirs, like a key chain, or a silly T-shirt, or a wooden toy that looks like it was carved for use in an occult ritual.
The RSL Auction Co
This ritual grinds men into pasta.
What's that? Toys that almost certainly contain some sort of ironic curse aren't your idea of a fun little gift for the kids back home? Well, they were for 19th century tourists, who bought tons of them in the port city of Kobe, Japan. Kobe dolls were carved out of wood, featured a mechanism that made their mouths open or their tongues and eyes bug out, and may have been designed as a passive-aggressive response to imperialism. You know, for kids.
#7. Paddy and the Pig
This is Paddy, and he's a triple threat kind of guy: a coin bank, a horrific Irish stereotype, and an unrepentant pig rapist. What, you're saying he's just catching that pig or, at worst, strangling it? Then try explaining what happens when you put a coin in the bank:
Adamstown Antique Gallery
"I'm tasting your fear ... I'm tasting your soul ..."
If everything in this scenario is on the up and up, there is absolutely no reason for Paddy to stick his whole tongue out toward that pig's face just to take your coin. They could have made him extend his hand, they could have made him tip his hat -- hell, they could have made that pig's mouth open up in a death rattle when you hit the switch, and it still would have been less disturbing than Paddy extruding his grimy black tongue to lick the face of his latest porcine victim.
#6. The Bones Family
This playbomination is a member of the children's building toy series called the Bones Family. They're kind of like LEGOs, except you build people instead of pirate ships, and one of the most vital pieces in every set is a burning but impotent hatred behind the eyes. Seriously, that skeletal cherub up there is one magical life-giving lightning strike away from an unstoppable murder spree.
If lightning's in short supply, it just needs an unknowing child's touch.
We're not sure what you're supposed to do with one once it's built, aside from offend God. So maybe you just abandon it and move on to building another: The family includes Skinny's sister, Ginny Bones; their dog, Ham Bones; and Trom Bones, the horse. Unfortunately, they've been difficult to find ever since the manufacturer released a recall notice that just read, "Burn them. Burn them all. Hurry, before it's too late!"
#5. Mr. Potato Head
Mr. Potato Head hasn't always been the lovable subliminal advocate of plastic surgery that we know today. He began life in 1952 as a collection of 28 pieces that you were supposed to jam into your own fruits or vegetables. So it wasn't so much "Mr. Potato Head" as it was "Mr. Collection of Random Disembodied Facial Parts" -- the perfect gift for Little Timmy, who just can't seem to keep a cat alive.
Why, with an old-school Potato Head set, your options were limitless: You could have a Mr. Tomato Head, who appeared to weep blood when you stabbed his eyes into his face, or maybe a Mrs. Cucumber Head to teach young Suzy about her budding sexuality. We're not sure why every single set of facial features includes wide, unblinking eyes full of hypnotic terror, but here you go:
And few smiled, but that was probably for the best.
The plastic version we think of today wasn't produced until 1964, which meant children had 12 long years to spend lying awake at night, wondering exactly how much their corn hated them, and knowing the answer was at least "more than anything."