It Only Hurts When I Play
Here’s an excerpt from The Onion:
Fun Toy Banned Because Of Three Stupid Dead Kids
WASHINGTON, DC—In cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Wizco Toys of Montclair, NJ, recalled 245,000 Aqua Assault RoboFighters Monday after three dumb kids managed to kill themselves playing with the popular toy, ruining the fun for everybody else.
“The tragedy is inconceivable,” Wizco president Alvin Cassidy said. “For years, countless children played with the Aqua Assault RoboFighter without incident. But then these three retards come along and somehow find a way to get themselves killed. So now we have to do a full recall and halt production on what was a really awesome toy. What a waste.”
“I know the overwhelming majority of American kids who owned an Aqua Assault RoboFighter derived many hours of safe, responsible fun from it,” CPSC commissioner Mary Sheila Gall said. “But, statistically speaking, three deaths stemming from contact with a particular toy constitutes an ‘unreasonable risk.’ Look, I’m really sorry about this. Honestly. But our agency’s job is to protect the public from hazardous products, even if those who die are morons who deserved what they got.”
The problem with toys today is they’re too safe. All the fun has been CPSCed away.
I’m not advocating dangerous toys. Toys that can pierce your skull should be banned. The problem is, we go too far. So if one idiot somewhere manages to hurt himself, everybody flies into a tizzy and the toy comes off the shelves.
Here’s a great toy that I had when I was 9 or 10:
It was part of Mattel’s Thingmaker line of toys that can burn your house down. It consisted of an open hot plate (Yes! Is that freakin’ sweet or what?), several metal molds, and a few bottles of colored “Goop”. The Goop was some sort of liquid plastic (toxic, of course, but you shouldn’t be drinking the stuff!) that solidified when heated.
All you had to do was decide which critters you wanted to make, by looking through your set of molds (I think I had about 8). Here is a typical mold plate:
MJ Thompson’s Creepy Crawlers page)
Then you decide which colors to make each of the crawlies. Just squirt the appropriately-colored Goop into the mold. You could even mix the colors to make psychedelic bugs, if you wanted. You could fill the scorpion’s legs with red and fill the body with purple, or whatever. Then (and here is the fun part) you put the mold plate onto the hot plate and turn it on.
The hot plate lived up to its name and got very hot, and you could watch the plastic solidify. When it was completely solid, then you took a little metal tool and hooked it into a slot on the plate, lifted the plate out, and set it in a little trough of water.
Then WHOOSH!! A cloud of steam rose up around the hot mold as you put it into the water. That was the best part of all. Shortly thereafter, the mold was cool enough, and you could pry your bugs out using tweezers. Then, of course, you didn’t actually play with the bugs. Making them was a lot more fun!
The plastic fly in this ointment was the bottles of Goop seemed awfully expensive to a 10-year-old. That’s the only reason I didn’t use this toy more than I did.
I Have a Burning Desire to Make Some More Bugs
I remember very distinctly that day I had the accident. (You could say it was burned into my memory.)
I was merrily making some centipedes or spiders or some other gloriously-creepy critters. I watched the Goop hardening in the mold. It is done! Praise the miracle of modern plastics! Now all I had to do was remove the mold from the hot plate. So I absent-mindedly grabbed the mold. With my hand.
That’s an understatement.
Thank evolution for reflexes. I pulled back immediately, so only my thumb had made contact. Over the next couple of weeks, I learned first-hand the lifecycle of a second-degree burn. It was a pretty big one, too. I had a nasty welt that turned white and filled with fluid and—nevermind. It still creeps me out.
But did we sue? No! Did we make a stink in the media? No! Did we report the toy to the government and demand they pull it off the shelves? NO!!
Why? Because the accident had been my fault! I’d just have to be more careful next time.
The icing on the cake is that my parents didn’t even take the toy away from me. They let me go on making bugs and risking bodily injury.
Were those great days to be a kid, or what?
Fun and Government: Incompatible
Eventually that toy did get yanked off the market, for precisely the reasons illustrated above. Kids were getting burned! That thing was dangerous! It eventually reappeared on the market in a boring wimped-out version that was impossible to abuse. I’m sure it sucked.
So go ahead. Give your kids some crappy toy today that has no obvious hazards. And if it somehow manages to hurt them anyway, sue the manufacturer and file a complaint with the CPSC. Take away everyone else’s fun. Then your kids will learn that the world owes them a completely risk-free existence. They’ll demand that the government make everything super-safe and super-regulated. Life will be grand under the nanny-state.