Toys Not Intended to be Weapons
by Krystin Pipkin (@Krystin_Makari)
No matter what generation you are from, we are all hit with a wave of nostalgia when we see the toys from our childhood. I grew up in the ’90s and was lucky to have some amazing toy options to play with. Sometimes we had to admire them on a TV screen or go to a friend’s house lucky enough to have the coveted toy. However, kids are creative. That nurturing love and creativity brings us to this: toys that weren’t originally intended to be weapons.
Ribbon Dancer (Kidpower) http://www.youtube.com/watch?
Ribbon Dancers are used on a professional level in rhythmic gymnastics. There is even an ancient Chinese ribbon dance. Now you, too, can be a rhythmic gymnastics dancer! Ribbon Dancers were simply a wide, long ribbon connected to the end of a baton that you used to twirl the ribbon around. If you didn’t own this toy, it was an easy one to make at home. How is it dangerous? Oh, the ribbon wove tangled webs around most anything it touched: ankles, throats, and faces. And if it’s not your turn with the ribbon dancer, a child may feel obligated to smack you with the sparkly baton. Rhythmic Gymnasts often throw the baton in the air, and being professionals, they would successfully catch it as gravity brought it down…but we can’t all be professional rhythmic gymnasts.
Sky Dancer (Galoob) http://www.youtube.com/watch?
Speaking of dancers, Sky Dancers were the cool “thing” to own if you were a young girl in the mid-nineties. They sat on a base and as you pulled the string the lovely sky dancer would spin and launch into the air. You watched with awe as it gently fell to the ground. Fly, my pretties! Fly! (There was a male-targeted equivalent in Dragon Flyz.) Sky Dancers grew in popularity so much so that they had their own animated TV series with around twenty-eight episodes. Not too shabby. Where could it go wrong? Don’t let those semi-foam wings fool you. Clunky, plastic objects flying in the sky around children somehow wasn’t the safest idea. Point-aim-shoot was a fun game for children to play. Over 100 injuries were reported and the toys were eventually recalled after less than six years on the market.
Furby (Tiger Electronics) http://www.youtube.com/watch?
Never trust a Furby. They look too much like gremlins and we all saw how that went down. Don’t get me wrong. I, too, was bewitched into thinking the Furby was a wholesome and loving toy. With a fluffy exterior and talking capabilities, it was the toy to have. In one year, twenty-seven million Furbies were sold. Activated by motion sensors on its forehead, the Furby would interact and talk with its owner. When first activated, it talked mostly in “furbish.” The longer you interacted with the Furby, the more it started to speak English. There’s nothing strange about a toy learning words as it gathers intelligence for the impending Furby army. The government even banned it from their National Security Agency premises in Maryland due to concerns that they may be used to record and repeat classified information. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I don’t know what could have been a sign? Is it maybe that they would talk to you in the middle of the night with the lights off for no apparent reason? So how is it a weapon (besides one against our national security)? This toy was so popular that it was flying off the shelves. It caused arguments and fights amongst parents. How’s that for family friendly? As for physical abuse, my first and only black eye was due to my friends fighting over a Furby and dropping it on my face. Thanks, Furby. I’m watching you, and I’m sure you are watching me.
Skip-It (Tiger Electronics) http://www.youtube.com/watch?
This was one of those toys that I didn’t own but my friends all did. Originally released in the eighties, the Skip-It is a small plastic hoop you fit through your ankle as you skip over a spinning plastic ball and chain. And as the nineties commercial said, “the very best thing of all, there’s a counter on this ball!” The Skip-It should be more obvious as to how easily it can convert into a weapon. Kids often found a way to inflict pain on those around them as they skipped. You can chase your friends and aim for their feet as you use your Skip-It, putting fear into their hearts and pain on their ankles. Some would even swing the Skip-It around their arm. This one seems to me like it would cause more harm to themselves than it would to others. The ball counter was not intended to count the people you inflict pain on. Some people’s children need a time out.
Originally intended as a flotation device, the pool noodle is by far my favorite toy turned weapon. Its uses include swimming, floating, water exercise, and water safety. For some reason, I just never remember it being used for any of those purposes. A guy friend once told me: “A young boy’s thought process is often, ‘How can I make this a weapon?’” I feel like this is one of those toys in which boys excelled in answering that question. That hollow hole in the middle was the real danger. When my brother wasn’t holding me under water playing the “How Long Can Krystin Hold Her Breath” game, I remember the image of him in the pool floating on the noodle maliciously staring at me as he disappears under water. This meant one thing: he was reloading to shoot water at my face. I’ve had too many painful memories and noodle-shaped welts across my body than I care to admit. With only a swimsuit to protect you, who would have thought foam hitting you would hurt so badly? The pool noodle turned a normal day by the pool into a full on water war. But the pool noodle is not just for aquatic warfare. It is used today in many Live Action Role Playing (LARP) gatherings as weapons and shields. They even make really cool lightsabers! Now, that’s what I’m talking about.