Wham-O introduced the Super Ball in 1965. It was a huge success as a toy, but it also inspired music... and was the reason the Super Bowl got its name. From Wikipedia:
Composer Alcides Lanza purchased several Super Balls in 1965 as toys for his son, but soon he started experimenting with the sounds that they made when rubbed along the strings of a piano. This resulted in his composition Plectros III (1971), in which he specifies that the performer should use a pair of Super Balls on sticks as mallets with which to strike and rub the strings and case of a piano.
Lamar Hunt, founder of the American Football League and owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, watched his children playing with a Super Ball and then coined the term Super Bowl. He wrote a letter to NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle dated July 25, 1966: "I have kiddingly called it the 'Super Bowl,' which obviously can be improved upon." The league's franchise owners had decided on the name AFL–NFL World Championship Game, but the media immediately picked up on Hunt's Super Bowl name, which became official beginning with the third annual game in 1969.
From Remco. It was released in 1976, following the success of the 1974 movies The Towering Inferno and Earthquake. Kids were meant to destroy the skyscraper and then rescue its occupants using the helicopter, firetruck, and team of plastic rescue workers that came with the toy.
"Turn a real disaster into hours of imaginative, exciting play... comes with a disaster sound effect record to help add exciting sound to the play."
1974: The Consumer Product Safety Commission had to destroy eighty thousand buttons it had printed urging people to "think toy safety" after the buttons themselves were deemed unsafe.
The problems with the buttons included sharp edges, lead-based paint, and pins that could be swallowed by children.
Digging deeper into the story, the irony lessens somewhat. It turns out that the problems were identified by the Commission itself because it had followed its own advice and tested the buttons before distributing them.
In 1940, Reuben Lindstrom was granted a patent for a "wind driven vehicle". It was a toy made out of tin cans. It resembled a model train, and the wind could make it go by itself. In his patent, Lindstrom explained that he deliberately avoided using a sail to propel the toy.
In wind driven vehicles it is desirable to avoid use of elevated wind responsive devices such as sails, windmills and the like and this is particularly true in toy vehicles simulating various types of full-sized vehicles for the reason that it is desired that the toy vehicle resemble as nearly as possible the full sized vehicle which it simulates.
Instead, he had shaped the wheels "to constitute wind responsive impeller blades".
Digging more deeply into the history of this patent, it turns out that Lindstrom was quite a character. For a start, he never cut his hair because, so he said, whenever he did he got heart trouble. In America, in the 1940s, this was unusual enough that it made the news.
Warren Times Mirror - June 28, 1949
He was a regular fixture around Wisconsin Rapids. A 2001 article in the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune called him "our most unforgettable character."
In addition to his wind-driven toy train, he had built a kind of motorized bicycle, described as a "weird contraption of bicycle wheel, one cylinder gas motor, pulley, levers, scooter and miscellany." He used this to get around on roads and railroad lines.
He basically lived as a street person/free spirit, always carrying around "a picture of a woman with a large snake wrapped around her neck." Some people referred to him as the "inventor hobo".
One of the quotations attributed to him: "Fashion is the main religion of this world. If you are different, they think you are nuts. Most people stay away from me because they think I'm a religious fanatic. The girls also stay away from me."
Also: "Dirt's natural and it keeps human diseases from penetrating the skin and entering my body."
To operate the assembly, the operator places the inlet tube with its valve open adjacent his anal region from which a colonic gas is discharged. The piston is then withdrawn to a degree producing a negative pressure to inhale the gas into the combustion chamber to intermix with the air therein to create a combustible mixture. The ignitor is then activated to explode the mixture in the chamber and fire the missile into space.
Zanakis argued that his toy wasn't just amusing but also offered safety benefits, because using it was safer than lighting your farts on fire:
A recreational activity practiced by some individuals is ignition of one's own flatus. This is performed by using a lit match or candle, or a cigarette lighter. So widespread is this activity that there are web sites on the Internet devoted exclusively to explaining proper lighting techniques.
A major drawback of this popular practice is that it usually involves the hazardous coupling of fire, combustible gases and inebriated participants. Reports of serious burns to body parts are not uncommon, this being especially true when the participants remove their clothing...
In view of the foregoing, the main object of this invention is to provide a safe toy which exploits the combustible properties of flatus to fire a toy missile into space.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.