A child's feet on tiptoes in front of a Christmas tree and present

These children's toys should just never have existed

With all of the stress involved in buying presents for children, it’s all too easy to just blindly adhere to the list of stuff your kid has spent the last six months circling in the Argos catalogue and printing off of Amazon. A doll here, a PS4 there, and hey presto, you’re done - let’s not even pretend we really know what all of the stuff does or how it works. 

But everyone has one toy from their own childhood that they look back on with a strange mix of nostalgia and confusion; part “that was awesome”, part “no way would I let my kids have that”. So, from the little bit creepy to the just plain dangerous, we take a look at some of the children's toys that just should never have been made. But did any of your childhood favourites make the list? Let’s find out.

1. Lawn Darts

Anyone who has ever had a go on a nerf gun will know how much fun shooting things can be, but back in the 80s, it was all about the lawn darts. Essentially giant darts with plastic fins that you threw at circular targets, they were equipped with a weighted metal tip to bring them down. However, as you can probably imagine, throwing hulks of metal through the air is an inherently risky business and they were banned in the US in 1988 after concerns about safety. By this time, over 6000 people had ended up in the emergency room with injuries caused by lawn darts, the majority of them children with injuries to the head or face. Even more shockingly, one child had been killed and another ended up in a coma. 

A box of lawn darts Credit: Flickr/TheDamnMushroom

2. Bebe Gloton

Perhaps not one that should never have been made, but definitely one that sparked a whole lot of debate, Bebe Gloton is a doll aimed at young girls and designed to simulate the process of breastfeeding. In order to be as realistic as possible it even makes suckling sounds, which have been described by some Mumsnet users as more akin to a “horror B-movie”. Once fed, it will not stop crying until it has been burped. Probably not helping the creepy factor was the fact that it doesn't work without the child strapping on a nursing top, complete with a flower-shaped nipple, to y'know, show children where their own nipples are. 

3. Preemie Cabbage Patch dolls

Okay, so maybe I can get on board with the breastfeeding doll from an educational point of view... but seriously, how much detail do kids really need to know about premature babies? Three inches shorter than a usual cabbage patch doll, the Preemie Cabbage Patch doll came complete with tiny nappies and a distinct lack of the hair the rest of the dolls are known for. The box even contained information on how to care for premature babies and the causes of premature birth, which I’m sure is exactly what every six-year-old is looking for in a doll. Most terrifyingly of all, the range of accessories also included a tiny baby-shaped baking tray - why this needed to exist, I will never know.

A cabbage patch preemie doll sat on a chair Credit: Flickr/ Sandra Heska King

4. The radioactive Atomic Energy Lab

Most parents today won’t give their children an extra scoop of ice cream for worry about their health, so imagine handing them a science kit containing four different types of uranium. Back in the 1950s, with the world facing impending nuclear doom, this kit was the go-to toy for any budding scientist and allowed - encouraged, even - them to create nuclear and chemical reactions. At $50 a pop, it was only for the rich even back then; today, the kits are much sought after and exchange hands on eBay for thousands of dollars. 

A photo of the Atomic Energy Lab kit Credit: Flickr/Tom Simpson

5. Pregnant Barbie

What is it with toy manufacturers being obsessed with creepy reproductive themed dolls? If how babies are born isn’t confusing enough as a kid, Pregnant Midge, Barbie’s lesser known best friend, came complete with a detachable pregnancy belly and pull out foetus. Said baby was removed from the stomach. Add in the fact that she looks about 13, and you’ve got yourself the creepiest, most anatomically misleading doll in history.

Pregnancy barbie undressed from the waist up showing her pull out foetus Credit: Flickr/Scribe215

6. Dora Aquapet

So hopefully any child receiving this as a birthday present shouldn’t spot any kind of dodgy resemblance, but the parents just might. Can the makers of this honestly say that no one noticed the distinctly phallic shape of this toy during the design process? Unsurprisingly, few of the Amazon reviews actually focused on the toy itself - most were just mums and dads expressing their amusement. 

An advertising image of the Dora Aquapet Credit: Flickr/WhatTheFeed

So there we have it, a collection of truly “what were they thinking” children’s toys. No doubt there will be more accidental horrors to come over the years. Still, all were probably cheaper than that damn PS4.