In the first decade of the 20th century, "dying pigs" were the must-have toy that every kid wanted. They were rubber balloons shaped like pigs. You inflated them and then, as they deflated, they made a sound like the squeal of a dying pig.
First of all, there's actually such a thing as a Civil War Nurse Barbie. (But no Civil War Soldier Ken, featuring horrific battle injuries).
Second, it's been pointed out in a number of places (such as here and here) that the doll is historically inaccurate. So it teaches kids bad history.
Dorothea Dix, Superintendent of Female nurses, famously set strict guidelines for all Union nurses: "They were required to be between 35-50 years old and plain-looking. [No attractive young nurses!] They were to dress in black or brown dresses and were not allowed to wear jewelry of any kind."
This is what an actual Civil War nurses' uniform looked like, complete with bloodstains:
Unlike the Union, the Confederates didn't have a nurses organization that defined what nurses should wear. But Confederate nurses tended to dress in simple, plain dresses, because that was practical.
Introduced in 1965 by New York toy manufacturer Jet Party Favors.
"Customers mail in a photograph of the person to be modeled, specifying hair and eye color. The photo is reproduced on a strip of photo-sensitive linen, which is put through a pressure-molding process to suggest facial contours such as noses, eyes, and dimples. The hardened, mask-like shell is then dolled up by artists, attached to a blank head, and mounted on a standard doll boy, girl, or baby body. Price: $9.95."
The dolls were said to be popular with "grandparents who desire reminders of grandchildren living in other cities, ... narcissists who want dolls depicting themselves as youngsters, necrophiles who want dolls of deceased relatives, and teen-age girls who mail their doll-like images to boy friends stationed overseas."
Here is an old British toy that had a lot of good intentions, but also some unanticipated drawbacks.
Buildings were constructed on allegedly waterproof waxed card bases. The bricks etc. were stuck together with a mortar made from a mixture of flour and chalk powder. It required a great amount of skill to erect buildings accurately, very time-consuming and beyond the patience of most of the children it was aimed at (8 to 14 years). Especially so in cold houses (as most British homes then were) it would take several days for the building to 'set'. Reusing the components involved a process of dunking the entire model in a large bowl of warm water. After the model fell apart the bricks and plaster pieces required lengthy rinsing to remove all organic traces to prevent mould growing on them.
I wonder how well they sold in the USA, as touted in the ad below, from Boys Life for September 1948.