Popularity Wasn’t Enough to Keep These Toys on Shelves
Toys are meant to help kids escape from reality, but sometimes the designers need a dose of reality. Normally toys hit shelves ans stay there until their franchise dwindles into obscurity or a new model comes out. Sometimes, however, a toy comes out that is so bad, or so dangerous, it gets pulled from shelves. The eight toys on this list were all removed for various reasons, with most of them being very good reasons.
Talking Teletubby Po
This 14” toy was released as a fun way for kids to play with their favorite TV characters. However, things got weird when the little british alien… well, whatever a Teletubby is, started talking to children. Not just adorable catchphrases, either — it was known to spout some pretty racy stuff (one of the most common things parents claimed to hear was “bite my butt”).
As you can imagine, parental outrage led to a lot of complaints, which lead to the toy being pulled from shelves. Po quickly found himself saying “goodbye” instead of “eh oh.”
My Friend Cayla
Technology is creepy sometimes — especially when it concerns kids. My Friend Cayla was a doll that connected to a smart phone app. Kids could “talk” with their doll and she would respond to questions, which is a fun concept until you start to dig a little deeper. See, Cayla didn’t just talk to kids — she asked LOTS of personal questions. There was a very real fear Cayla could be hacked, and that all of her stored information on children could be leaked.
Much of Europe pulled her from shelves as concern grew. It was even discovered that the toy recorded conversations with children and uploaded them to the cloud, which is abjectly terrifying. Many countries noted fears that the doll was secretly spying on children (and, by default, their parents). After this revelation, Germany not only pulled the dolls from its shelves, but also told people who owned Cayla to DESTROY her. It seems pretty extreme, but when the doll asks questions like, “Where do you live?” and “What are your parents names?”, we can absolutely see why.
Big Chap: Alien Xenomorph
Big Chap was definitely a bit… off the mark when it comes to toys. Many collectors theorize that it was released more for adults than for children, but the problem with that is that all the marketing for the toy showed young boys playing with it. The big black Xenomorph was such a hit in the sci-fi thriller, Kenner wanted to capitalize on the success. So they released what many parents called “a horrific monster” into toy stores.
To soften the acid blooded Alien, they called it “Big Chap,” but that did not take away from the fact that it was a giant murder machine. The figure had a translucent head, just like the one in the film, through which you could see the alien’s skull. It also had extending inner jaws. This was all too much for parents who demanded the terrifying thing be removed as to not scar their children. Kenner agreed, and pulled it.
Talking Freddy Krueger
Once again toy makers made something a little too scary for kids. In the case of the 1980’s talking Freddy…well, they might be right. This horror icon doesn’t really belong in the hands of most kids, so it doesn’t really surprise us that it was pulled from shelves.
You would think with such lovable phrases as “Let’s be friends” and its metallic maniacal laugh, it would have been a huge hit with the kids! Turns out a horrifying monster who enters your dreams to kill you probably isn’t the best choice for a toy. Once again, parents demanded it be removed from shelves, and this time Freddy won’t be back again.
Earring Magic Ken
This whole situation is so ridiculous, it’s funny. In the early nineties Mattel wanted to find out if little girls thought Barbie and Ken should break up (weird question, but sure, we’ll go with it). What they found was that girls overwhelmingly wanted the power couple to stay together, but they wanted Ken to be cooler. So Mattel set out to find out what the kids think is cool these days. Instead of just, you know, asking the kids what they thought, they instead sent researchers out to places that were considered cool at the time in search of counter culture trends that would make Ken less boring.
Here is the problem with simply taking counter culture trends — you don’t know the meaning behind them. So when Mattel released the Earring Magic line of Barbies, Ken seemed to do more than come out in stores — he also came out of the closet. Ken sported frosted tips, a lilac fishnet shirt, purple vest, and tight fitting pants. He also had an earring, which at the time was rather controversial. The final thing they added was a “hip” necklace with a giant silver ring on it. The problem? The necklace reflected a movement in the gay community to wear something rather inappropriate– a particular ring-like sex toy. Even worse, where you wore it said something about your preferences.
The gay community loved Earring Magic Ken and bought him en masse, making it one of the top grossing Kens of all time. The death blow came to this cool Ken when Dan Savage, the popular sex advice columnist and LGBT activist, wrote an article about all of the subtext in this doll. Mattel had to apologize for unintentionally creating a gay icon, and quickly removed him from shelves. Perhaps now is the right time for a renaissance?
Cabbage Patch Snacktime Kids
This is sort of a horror story when it comes to toys. The Cabbage Patch Snacktime Kids came with plastic food they could eat. When it sensed “food,” which translates to any object stuffed into it’s greedy little mouth hole, it’s motorized jaw set to work chewing and it wouldn’t stop until the food “magically” was swallowed. The only way to stop it in an emergency was to remove its backpack, thus cutting it off from its batteries and stopping it from gnawing your child’s fingers off.
This thing might as well have been a garbage disposal, because it was happy to try and destroy anything you gave it, including the aforementioned fingers and, in many cases, hair. 500,000 of these all-consuming Cabbage Patch Snacktime Kids were sold before they were pulled from shelves. Mattel even went so far as to offer $40 to anyone who returned the doll, in hopes of ending its reign of terror.
Tonka Ride-On Dump truck
Another legitimate safety concern here. This truck had bad reviews before the incident, but that didn’t make it dangerous. The truck was actually pretty cool, and if not for the danger, we would have totally wanted one as a kid. It had two kid-sized seats and could be driven around, which sounds great — but this story is about to heat up. What got this awesome dump truck pulled from shelves was one isolated incident that went viral. A pair of grandparents thought “Sweet, this would make a great gift for our grandson!” (this is a summary, the grandparents probably didn’t think “sweet”– but it would be cool if they did).
They bought one and threw it in the back of their pickup truck to drive home. On the way there, the thing randomly caught on fire. They didn’t even take it out of the box or turn it on — the truck just went up like a bonfire on the fourth of July. The blaze was so bad, firefighters had to be called to prevent it from consuming the real truck. Even though it was only one incident, Toys-R-Us removed them from shelves to prevent further fiery experiences.
Shape Shifting Punisher
This is one of those toys that makes you wonder, “How did this get through multiple levels of approvals?” This toy line capitalized on the success of Hasbro’s Transformers by adding a transforming element to a group of major Marvel characters. They had the brilliant idea of turning the Punisher into a…pistol? Excuse us — a “Power Pistol.” It…well, it didn’t quite go as planned.
What went wrong? Well, as you might have noticed from the pictures, quite a lot. The only place they could stash the barrel of the gun was in the Punisher’s chest, and transforming it became a bit…. uncomfortable (insert superhero overcompensation joke here). The barrel was about half the size of the toy, and when transforming, it came out between his legs. The result was some… awkward positioning and conversations as he got ready to, um, fire. Obviously parents became upset about the Punisher’s giant… gun (we’ll call it that, yeah), and pretty soon after its release, the toy was pulled from shelves.