Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2007

Jeneralizations: Fondly recalling past toys

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Mattel has not had a good summer. In recent weeks, millions of the company’s toys sold under the Fisher-Price brand — from Dora the Explorer figurines to Elmo tool belts — were recalled because they contained lead paint.

Personally, I don’t see why it’s such a big deal. When I was growing up, we kids ate lead paint all the time. I slathered it on my french fries when there was no ketchup. I poured it on my ice cream sundaes when I ran out of Magic Shell. And wasn’t there a famous slogan: ‘‘Lead Paint: It’s What’s for Dinner”? Maybe I’m remembering that wrong.

In all seriousness, these recalls naturally make parents very nervous, not only about the products in question but about the yet-to-be-identified dangers that could be lurking in other toys and allegedly child-safe items.

Which makes me wonder: Did our parents have to deal with all this recall madness? I don’t recall that many toys being recalled when I was a kid, but then again, I was kind of busy awarding gold medals to my Dorothy Hamill doll to notice. I decided to do some research into this matter and it turns out, plenty of my generation’s playthings were deemed dodgy. Here are just a few examples.

Disclaimer: The items listed below either never existed or were never recalled for the reasons described. They are included in this column for satirical purposes only. Please, Hasbro, Mattel and all you other toy companies, do not sue me.

Easy Bake Microwave Oven

Reason for recall: The listed cause was faulty wiring. But the real truth? This thing caused Chernobyl.

Fire-Breathing Barbie

Reason for recall: OK, technically, she set a few kids on fire. But this otherwise lovely doll also suffered from severe lung damage as a result of inhaling all that smoke, so taking her off the market was the humane thing to do. Because Barbies are real, like people. It’s true. My best friend in third grade told me, and that girl has her own law practice now. So she couldn’t possibly have been lying.

Hungry Hungry Hippos:The Original Version

Reason for recall: Those hippos had an appetite for destruction.

Darth Vader Action Figure

Reason for recall: These guys found your lack of faith disturbing. And we all know nothing good happens when the Dark Lord says that, so this initial batch of Vaders was pulled from shelves and quickly replaced with a less lethal model. No, I don’t know if any of the defective Darths are available on e-Bay ... yes, I’m guessing they might be worth a decent sum of money ... sure, probably more if the box remained unopened. Geez, would you stop with all the questions and go back to reading already.

Insensitive Care Bears

Reason for recall: They just didn’t give a darn about anyone but themselves and the insipid rainbows on their stupid, selfish bellies.

Silly Putty

Reason for recall: Sure, it was putty. Yes, you could press it against the newspaper and imprint an image on it as promised. But this putty’s attitude? Much, much too serious.