Nothing like a huge recall of potentially dangerous toys to prompt a walk down memory lane.
Another day, another recall of lead-painted action figures or games with choking-hazard magnets and small parts, all from China, being recalled. Mattel's president is begging forgiveness from parents, while likely trying to figure out what the hell he's going to do with all these hazardous items as his company's stock plummets.
This whole mess prompted some pretty funny talk radio this week, particularly on Stephanie Miller's syndicated morning show. Those of us who are old enough to have been kids when toy safety was either optional or outright ignored can remember some of the items on the market that just begged for the chance to send a child to the emrgency room. Callers to Miller's show gave me pause to reflect on some of the all-time greats.
Remember Jarts, the giant lawn darts? We had those. And I wish we still did. But, to be sure, not just allowing but encouraging an eight-year-old to let fly a steel-tipped 14-inch lawn dart toward the end of the yard... where your unwitting opponent stood, was, umm, fucking crazy!
And Click-clacks? Essentially two hard plastic balls on a string with a ring in the middle. You'd work the wrist action to get these things flying up and down, banging into one another. Great fun until one shattered and sent a shard of plastic in your sister's eye. Oops!
The list goes on an on.
On Miller's show, the callers turned the discussion into toys and games of the 60s and 70s. That brought up things like the game Ball Busters. Yes, indeed, there really was a game with that name. As proof, thanks to YouTube, here's the TV commercial.
But nothing beats hard plastic projectiles. And I am proud to say that my parents were cool enough to give this exact toy -- "From Mattel -- It's swell! --to my brother and me. Hours of fun, welts and contusions not included.
This whole topic was parodied best by Dan Akroyd in the early SNL days. His Irwin Mainway character was dead-on.
I like the "toy" my brother and I invented. All you need is a tennis ball, a jar big enough to hold the ball, a hockey stick, a long fireplace match or two and about a quart of gasoline. Simply soak the tennis ball for a while in the gasoline. Them remove from gasoline and place the ball on the street. Light the ball on fire, and then give it your best slap shot. And there you have it: a flaming tennis ball that leaves a 20-feet flame behind it. Guaranteed to have your neighbors pull their kids off the street and call your parents.