Parents have been worrying about children's safety for as long as man has had tools and furniture.
It wasn't until the Baby Boomer era they also had to worry about their children and their toys.
Over the last few decades, Ralph Nader and fretful parents have been scrambling desperately to intercept
toys that they feared would sear skin, block windpipes, penetrate eyeballs or corrupt tender minds.
The word "dolls" conjures up happy images of diapered pink stubby-legged babies, smiling little
girls in blue gingham dresses and teen brother and sister fashion dolls in smart sweaters and
poodle skirts. Well, every family has its black sheep, and in this year of lists, we will
review some of the most memorable dolls and action figures that were ever banned by government
agencies, recalled by manufacturers or cast out by parents.
1976 - Ideal
All in the Family's Meathead and Gloria's anatomically correct grandson. Its fun to
imagine how Archie Bunker might have responded to this doll. "Sheeesh, now
why does he have to have one of THOSE?"
1977 - Harvey Rosenberg, Inc.
This guy came in his own closet complete with purse, necklace and earring. A purse?
After a steady diet of Jerry Springer, we are now smart enough to ask "Was Gay Bob really
gay or just a transvestite?"
Pee Wee Herman
Rubens and Matchbox teamed up for this great line of toys but stores couldn't give Pee Wee
merchandise away fast enough after his arrest.
Nightmare on Elm Street Talking Freddy Krueger
Parents just didn't approve of a serial killer from an "R" rated horror film as a chum for
their children. Initially he word "MATCHBOX" was removed from the box and then finally he
was just pulled from shelves.
Mommy's Having a Baby
1992 - Tyco
Mother gives birth to baby hidden in a pouch beneath her dress. Designed to educate but
many parents were offended. "Let 'em learn that stuff when they're married!"
Cabbage Patch Snacktime Kid
1995 - Mattel
Mouth simulates chewing. Cute, but not good for little girls with long hair...
Toy Story Talking Woody
Underneath those skinny poseable arms lurks skin-piercing wire! Virtually every
bendy figure we had as kids in the '60s was contructed of jagged wire coated with
1998 - Coleco
Nomad was one of Rambo's antagonists from this mid-eighties line of action figures.
The Arab community protested the stereotypical portrayal of an Arab as a terrorist and
were successful in having the figure pulled.
Rad Rappin Tarzan
1998 - Mattel
Hand moved up and down suggestively in front of his scantily clad loins while screeching
the famous Tarzan yodel. Doll was replaced with an inanimate arm. I almost resisted
a Pee Wee Herman reference.
Teletubbies Talking Po
Playskool - 1998
Cute little critter with the Swearing Linda Blair voice chip. AKA Potty Mouth Po. Dolls
were pulled and replaced with the appropriate voice chip. Incident is similar to the famous
Topps Star Wars C-3PO card with exaggerated genitalia. My goodness, how DO these things
get out of the factory?
Armed Terrorist Doll - The Villain
1999 - 21st Century Toys
Inadvertently released around the time of the Columbine shooting in May 1999. 21st
Century Toys and Sears had the good taste to pull 'em off of shelves even though it
was just a matter of bad timing.
Austin Powers Talking Doll
1999 - McFarlane Toys
Talking GI Joe used to say "GI Joe, reporting for duty!" Talking Austin says "Do I make you
horny baby? Do I?" Dr. Evil laments "Why must I be surrounded by freakin' idiots!" One
mother pretty much kicked off the crusade by protesting that she wasn't ready to teach her
small child what "horny" meant.
Barbie - Honorable Mention
Barbie has offended on many occasions. Here are some of the modern examples.
Butterfly Art Barbie AKA Tatoo Barbie
Earring Magic Ken AKA Gay Ken
Growing Up Skipper
Barbie as George Washington
Cool Shoppin' Barbie - Mastercard affiliation
Aurora Monster Scenes Guillotine and Hanging Cage Models - moral issues
Clackers / Klack Klacks - balls shatter on impact
Halloween Costumes that are not flame retardant
Kenner Easy Bake Ovens - light bulb and hot metal trays
Little Black Sambo Books - issues with stereotyping
Mattel Agent Zero Sonic Blaster - firing simulation too loud
Mattel Thingmakers Ovens - hot ovens
Metal Slinkys - sharp edges
Model Glue - recreational use did not involve models
Potato Guns - powerful enough for eye damage
Topps Wacky Packs and Garbage Pail Kids Trading Cards - moral issues
Does a little dark cloud over a new doll's head impact it's price? Of course it does. But not
always like you might expect. When the Pee Wee Herman controversey happened, Pee Wee toys
were pulled or marked down to next to nothing. Only in the last few years have they crept
up to collectible status they deserve. If a toy just gets bad press but isn't pulled right away,
dealers and profit takers will gobble up everything they can find on the toy shelves, hoping
that someday the price will mature dramatically. This happend with Gay Bobs and
especially Joey Stivics. You can find a boxed 1976 Stivic for $20 all day, as long as the
seller doesn't have it marked at $50 or more. If they do they will probably own it forever.
Bad vibes do not always translate into super-collectible pricing.