Happy Friday and Merry Christmas! Christmas is just a few days away and I hope you have your shopping completed. If not, there will be plenty of stores open this weekend and my guess is that you will have plenty of company from other last-minute shoppers. However, there are some gift ideas that you probably will not find at any store this year and the world is probably a little safe for it.
SOME NOT SO GREAT GIFT IDEAS FOR THE KIDS
AUSTIN MAGIC PISTOL – a toy gun that shoots a ping-pong ball. These have been around for a long time and seem harmless enough. Well this one had a twist, made in the 1950’s the Austin Magic Pistol was not your ordinary spring-loaded ping-pong gun. This one used “magic crystals” made from calcium carbide. The tricky part here is that calcium carbide and water make a highly flammable gas that resulted in a small explosion that would fire said ping-pong balls over 70 feet, but it did look pretty cool to shoot fiery ping-pong balls at your friends.
JARTS – These were banned sometime in the 1980s. According to reports, over 6,100 children went to the emergency room from lawn dart injuries. That same report says that a dart can come down with over 20,000 pounds of pressure. I can proudly say that I survived playing Jarts. I can also truthfully state that I never intentionally threw a Jart at anyone.
CLACKERS – Also known as Knockers and Click Clacks. The 70’s gave us this toy made of two heavy acrylic balls attached to a string. The only object was to get them to fly up and down and knock into each other to make noise and to do this as fast as possible. Of course. swinging small acrylic balls about at high-speed may seem like a safe activity to most people, but the problem with these arises when those balls reach their inevitable breaking point. Then instead of the expected bang, they shatter and splinter. Then parents decided it might be a good idea to keep shrapnel out of their children’s faces. I had these but did not have the patience or coordination to use them enough to reach the breaking point.
PYROGRAPHY (WOOD BURNING) Kits – A hot metal tip that is used to burn images into wood, so what is the problem. Well, besides the heat, there are fumes, inhaling sawdust and the ever-present threat of starting a fire. I think I had one of these and with my natural artistic ability I was able to eventually make a black mark on a piece of wood.
EASY BAKE OVEN – Introduced in 1963 by Kenner, a Cincinnati based company, the original used an ordinary light bulb as the heat source, which could reach close to 350 degrees. It came with packets of cake mix and small round pans. All you had to do was add water, mix, put in the pan and slide into the oven through a slot. After cooking, the cake was pushed out through a slot in the other end. While a lot of cakes were made over the years, we may never know how little fingers were burned in the process.
CREEPY CRAWLERS – kind of like an Easy Bake Oven marketed to boys with the added features of chemical fumes. It was introduced by Mattel in 1964. You could make plastic bugs by pouring “Plastigoop” into little metal molds then “baking” them using an electric hot plate oven that was hotter than an Easy Bake Oven. Not only did the unit get hot, but it made hot melted plastic, which was also toxic. But the end result was a supply of rubbery bugs toys that make any kid squeal with joy.
GILBERT GLASS BLOWING KIT – If the Easy Bake Oven and Creepy Crawlers were not hot enough for you, there was the Gilbert Glass Blowing Kit. If you want to get glass to become malleable, you need to heat to about 1,000 degrees! Sounds fun and exciting and what could possibly go wrong?
GILBERT ATOMIC ENERGY LAB – Why worry simply about high temperatures when you can play with radioactive materials? The Gilbert Company managed to top the glass blowing with the introduction in 1951 of the Atomic Energy Lab kit which included a Uranium-238 Geiger counter, an electroscope, and four samples of uranium ores. Hey junior, how about some nice uranium-238, it has REAL radioactivity!
Thought for the Week
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” ~ Luke 2:10