It Only Hurts When I Play

Here’s an excerpt from The Onion:

Fun Toy Banned Because Of Three Stupid Dead Kids

Aqua Assault RoboFighter

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:

Creepy Crawlers

Click picture to embiggen and revel in its awesomeness!

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:

Creepy Crawlers mold plate

(All Thingmaker pictures from
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.

Ouch.

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.

23 Responses to “It Only Hurts When I Play”

  1. Syldoran Says:

    Heh, similar story. I burned myself once with an Easy-Bake oven–I’d grabbed the pan before it was cool and burned my fingers. It sucked, and it was painful, but later on I was merrily making more crappy just-add-water cakes. Taught me not to touch the pans ever, and my parents pretty much thought the same thing. I’m sure I’m not the only girl who’s burned herself on those things, and yet somehow, the toy’s still on the market.

    We need more parents (like mine) who let their children learn from experience, rather than keep them in a bubble and sue any company who does wrong. I’m sure the generations might start getting smarter again.

  2. FSM_Ed Says:

    Jarts should never have been banned. Here’s the deal, before you throw, just ask the people on the receiving end to “step aside” and everyone will be OK. They hype over lawn darts is overblown.

  3. Ron Britton Says:

    FSM_Ed:

    Your approach relies on too much personal responsibility. Nobody these days wants to be responsible for their actions.

    I do think we have to be careful about letting lethal products on the market. My guideline would be how much injury can result from misuse?

  4. OtherRob Says:

    I recently read somewhere (on BoF?) something along the lines of: we shouldn’t arrange the village to suit the idiot. But that is what we’re doing isn’t it?

  5. Ron Britton Says:

    OtherRob:

    I recently read somewhere (on BoF?) something along the lines of: we shouldn’t arrange the village to suit the idiot.

    Yes. That was your arch-nemesis Jeff Eyges, who said:

    As Frank Schaeffer said recently, “These people are the village idiot… and you don’t rearrange the village to suit the idiot.”

    And yes, that’s exactly what we’re doing. I think it’s because there are so many of them. The majority always votes to protect its own interests.

  6. Jeff Eyges Says:

    That was your arch-nemesis Jeff Eyges

    Oh, hardly. That was a momentary thing.

    As Frank Schaeffer said recently, “These people are the village idiot… and you don’t rearrange the village to suit the idiot.”

    It’s almost unbelievable, how many truly stupid people there are. If you’d tried to explain it to me when I was younger, I wouldn’t have believed you. I would have tried to understand it in terms of aptitude, biased testing, etc. Not any more! Now, I can’t get over the fact that civilization has lasted for twelve thousand years. Oh, I mean SIX thousand! Yeah, that’s it… that’s the ticket!

  7. KennyCelican Says:

    This is why I’m a cynic and an optimist.

    A cynic, because I’ve met ‘average’. Average is very nice, but average is not terribly good at cerebral pursuits, which include rational examination of rules. Average follows rules or does not, but it isn’t due to an examination of the rules and their consequences. Instead, it’s based on an emotional response to whether the rules are ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Average almost makes me despair.

    An optimist, because I think about the fact that betweeen modern medicine and modern nutrition, ‘average’ is probably more capable of cerebral activity than at any point in our history. That means we’ve gotten to where we are due to the efforts, mainly, of a lower quality of ‘average’ than we have today. True, a lot of those efforts have been a blitzkrieg on reality; throw people at it, send in more people anywhere some got through. Don’t stop because of losses, there will be time to mourn them later in the biergartens in Paris. We still made it to where we are.

    My point here, and I do have one, is a response to Jeff’s comment wondering that we’ve lasted this long. We’ve lasted this long because we can’t see the odds, our biochemistry won’t let us lie down and quit, and if one of us finds a path, the rest follow.

    The problem with the new toy laws is that we’re removing the disincentive to avoid certain kinds of actions. So while we’re more capable of thought than ever before, we’re avoiding it like never before.

  8. Ron Britton Says:

    Jeff Eyges:

    Oh, hardly. That was a momentary thing.

    Actually, it was more a reference to you guys being polar opposites on the political spectrum. It’s funny how you both agree on that point.

  9. Jeff Eyges Says:

    Actually, it was more a reference to you guys being polar opposites on the political spectrum. It’s funny how you both agree on that point.

    You think so? I’d think my polar opposite would be a conservative Christian who thinks God is a free market Republican.

  10. Jeff Eyges Says:

    My point here, and I do have one, is a response to Jeff’s comment wondering that we’ve lasted this long. We’ve lasted this long because we can’t see the odds, our biochemistry won’t let us lie down and quit, and if one of us finds a path, the rest follow.

    Saw this recently on PBS: http://www.pbs.org/gunsgermssteel/

    HIGHLY recommended (even if you don’t agree with his conclusions)

  11. Julie Says:

    When I was little, my dad found the wimpy version of creepy crawlers in the store and, remembering his awesome one from his childhood, bought the new version for me and my brother. When we realized how awful it was, he searched through his parents’ basement and found his old one! Everything worked except the goo, which had gone bad or something. We used the goo from the new version and the oven and molds from the old version and made a million little bugs. It was great.

  12. OtherRob Says:

    Jeff Eyges said:

    You think so? I’d think my polar opposite would be a conservative Christian who thinks God is a free market Republican.

    Well, I do tend to be “conservative” in my thoughts and I generally believe that the “free market” is a good thing — but those other descriptions definitely don’t fit. :-)

  13. Thomas Says:

    A playground was recently built at a park down the street from my house. It was the pretty standard cookie-cutter plastic and pipe playground that we see at parks and day care centers all over the country. It did have an old-fashioned jungle gym, though, one of the three dimensional metal grids that stood about fifteen feet high just like the one I played on as a child.

    That particular apparatus lasted five weeks before complaints from local parents led the park service to remove it. What the fuck? Getting hurt is part of being a child. I’m not advocating for needlessly risking youths’ lives but I am saying that bumps, bruises, cuts and broken bones are an integral part of learning and growing up.

    I really think that we’re damaging our children by insulating them from danger.

  14. OtherRob Says:

    It did have an old-fashioned jungle gym, though, one of the three dimensional metal grids that stood about fifteen feet high just like the one I played on as a child.

    I loved those things!

  15. Parrotlover77 Says:

    Shorter Ron-and-anybody-over-30-on-this-thread-except-myself: GET OFF MY LAWN!

    Yea, I know it’s mostly tongue-in-cheek, but I get tired of each generation talking about how easy the next generation has it or how wimpy they are or whatever else. Christ, could you write what amounts to a five paragraph letter in 10 minutes on a T-9 keypad when you were 9? I think not!!!11eleven!!!

  16. Ron Britton Says:

    PL:

    I figured you’d react that way. I’m just pointing out that we had great toys that aren’t allowed anymore, because they’re too “dangerous”. The point being that our insane belief that life has to be ultra-safe is hurting us in other ways.

    Yea, I know it’s mostly tongue-in-cheek, but I get tired of each generation talking about how easy the next generation has it or how wimpy they are or whatever else.

    I hate that too. I’m just trying to educate you infants that we had cool stuff too.

    The car that runs on ceilings sounds like a great toy.

  17. Parrotlover77 Says:

    Indeed, it does. Which, following your stated trend, means it will be banned as soon as it fails and falls from a 20 foot ceiling and kills some unsuspecting toddler.

    BTW, I loved playing lawn darts as a kid. I never got hurt playing it because — and I know this is incredibly shocking to some — both players stood at the same side when we played! I know! It’s crazy! NOW GET OFF MY LAWN! I WOULD HAVE GOTTEN AWAY WITH IT IF IT WASN’T FOR YOU KIDS.

  18. Ron Britton Says:

    Which, following your stated trend, means it will be banned as soon as it fails and falls from a 20 foot ceiling and kills some unsuspecting toddler.

    No. Killing I can understand. The problem is they ban toys that cause minor injuries. Here’s a video of the car:

    They say the battery is good for ten minutes. What if that runs down while it’s on the ceiling? Bang! A few stitches for junior and no more car for the rest of us.

  19. Parrotlover77 Says:

    Line of sight infrared controller?! It’s like they are inviting a lawsuit!

  20. sue blue Says:

    Back in the day, we were allowed to bear the full brunt of natural selection via BB guns, air rifles, cap pistols, “real” darts, playground designs that looked like a high-rise construction site, and sledding, skiing and riding bikes with never so much as a hint that helmets might be a good idea. Hell, I remember kids getting hatchets and jack knives for Christmas. Sure, some kids lost fingers and eyes, and some kids ended up with steel plates in their thicker-than-usual heads – and thirty or forty years later, they’re still fondly remembered as “retards”.

  21. Gatesofcerdes Says:

    I had the Thingmaker! At 5 or 6. My parents helped me with it, and probably had just as much fun as I did with it as I did. I kept it till I was 12 or so, and then you couldn’t buy the goop anymore or some such, but it was quite possibly the most awesome toy I ever got.

  22. Nozmo Says:

    People these days miss the mark when it comes to their thinking about protecting ourselves from ourselves. They want to legislate our way to controlling every little thing that we can potentially “hurt” ourselves with – saturated fat, salt, guns, petroleum-wasting cars, where will it end? It’ll end when we’ve lost so much of our freedom and liberty that we can no longer vote our conscience because we “don’t know what’s good for us.”

    We have nerves to tell us what not to touch and reflexes to protect us from touching bad things for too long. We have the power of reason that animals don’t have and a conscience to respond to that power. Suffice it to say that if a child is too well protected from their enviroment they never learn by experience that big, heavy things can kill you and eventually walk in front of a speeding car. That is of course an exaggeration but we were built to learn by experience and are enriched by it. Our founding fathers wrote a constitution intending to protect our right and freedom to do so.

    Shall we ban rocks because stupid people fall and get killed climbing them? I think I’d like to make that choice for myself and thank the freedom and liberty I have for it. Some politicos these days want to take that away.

    Think about it.

  23. Parrotlover77 Says:

    What is it with drive-by posts that end with “Think about it?” Jesus, this is like the fifth blog I’ve seen over the past year with what appear to be completely unrelated commenters post their personal manifestos on why modern society sucks for some reason, then end it with “think about it.” As if ending it with that phrase will suddenly make me realize… ZOMG! I’ve been so wrong. Our litigious society needs to be abandoned for pure unfettered anarchy! Somebody sell me a gun! It’s time to go Old West Style!