Switch to Afrikaans

6 dangerous toys from the past

A flashback to the most dangerous toys in history
lead soldiers


These days we are really spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing toys for our children. However, back in the day, the most popular toys on the market were actually really dangerous! We’re relieved these are no longer available to buy as Christmas gifts!


dangerous toys chemistry set

Source: Joe Mabel

1. Chemistry sets
Forget fake chemicals and lab toys made out of plastic. These chemistry sets from the 1940s and 1950s were the real deal and included uranium, sodium cyanide and even potassium nitrate, which was used to make gunpowder! The sets also included measuring spoons, a mortar and pestle, and even an alcohol burner. While many other variations of the kit may have contained nontoxic chemicals, the reactions could lead to burns and small explosions. Many of these sets were reported to cause burn wounds and small indoor fires. We’d prefer a messy kid’s room to a fire, thanks!


dangerous toys little lady oven

Source: Museum of Play

2. The Little Lady Oven

While a mini-oven for a little girl playing make-believe may seem innocent enough, these ovens were extremely dangerous. Back in the 1960s, it was recommended that this toy be banned, as the oven racks would heat up to 315 degrees Celsius, which is even hotter than a real oven! While we get the passion of a budding little foodie, we say let your child help out in the actual kitchen – under supervision, of course!


dangerous toys lead soldiers

3. Lead toy figurines
Although the dangers of lead have been known for many years, and it was almost completely banned in the 20th century, many toys (figurines cast out of lead or wooden toys painted with lead paint) were still to be found in many households. Lead was said to be cheap and easy to work with, hence the popularity – especially these lead soldiers. This made the most innocent toys very dangerous ones.


dangerous toys glass blowing kit

Source: cracked.com

4. Glass-blowing kits
Glass-blowing kits were supposed to be very entertaining and anything from champagne glasses to glass toys could be created. The glass was heated up to glowing red on an alcohol burner, but thank goodness the manual at least warned against using kerosene in the house, which could cause a black residue. Did they forget to mention that this dangerous toy set was a serious fire hazard as well?


dangerous toys jarts

Source: Pynprice

5. Lawn darts
Lawn darts, also known as Jarts, was one of the most famous banned toys. These metal darts were marketed for adults only, but were still sold in toy shops everywhere. The darts caused serious injuries, making them one of the most dangerous toys around at the time.


atomic-energy-lab-dangerous toys

Source: Collector’s Weekly

6. Atomic sets
You’ve read right. Definitely deemed the most dangerous toy in history, the contents of one of these kits make lead seem very innocent in comparison. The kit was sold at the height of atomic science – in 1951 and 1952 – and contained four different samples of uranium, a Geiger counter (the tool used to measure radiation) and a cloud chamber with a power source. The only warning given was that the efficiency of uranium can decrease over a period of time. While it was educational, we can think of better, safer educational gifts to give our children. Or maybe we can consider other ways to help kids fight boredom?


Like this?
to our Free Good Housekeeping Newsletter
This is Why we Wear Engagement Rings

It's not very romantic – but the reason we wear them on our left hands is.​