In China, where life is hard and patience strong, the toy man is a favorite of old and young. On the streets of Peiping he displays his wares and children flock to see — and if they have pennies — to buy. A set of his most fascinating wares are fashioned from skins of dead crickets, dressed up to satirize the many street vendors in the ancient city.
"This cricket has been mounted to represent a vendor of flowers and plants."
"These crickets represent a barber shaving a customer."
"Barbers bring their trade to the customer in China. They carry their 'shops' on long poles which they balance on one shoulder. Above is a Chinese cricket-barber carrying his tools along the street, offering to shave the head of any he meets."
"Bicycles fill the streets of Peiping. Hence the toy-man's set would be incomplete without a cricket astride a wheel."
The brief, controversial product life of the Chilly Bang! Bang! juice-filled squirt gun. Kids put the gun barrel in their mouth and squeezed the trigger to enjoy a refreshing squirt of juice.
First sales were halted because the plastic tab at the end of the barrel was deemed a choking hazard. Then in 1991 it was banned outright. New York Senator Nicholas Spano noted, "The last thing we should teach our children is to put gun barrels in their mouths."
Introduced by Kenner in 1962, this plaid-patterned vinyl bag attached to a plastic flute allowed kids to play "exciting bagpipe effects." You need to watch the short video to appreciate the true horror of the sounds this thing created. Guaranteed to drive parents insane in mere seconds.
Introduced in 1948, the "Milka Moo" toy cow had a rubber udder that, when squeezed, would squirt out real milk.
It was one of the many inventions of Beulah Louise Henry (aka Lady Edison). Her inventions made her rich, but she was considered a bit of an eccentric. She lived in New York hotels along with "three sizeable live turtles, a dozen tropical fish, a school of snails and other flora and fauna."
Kenner released Gobbles The Crazy Eating Goat toy in 1978, but they soon discontinued it. There may have been concerns that children would eat the plastic bits of fake garbage (designed for Gobbles to eat) that came with the toy. But also, the toy was branded one of the worst toys of the year by the Consumer Affairs Committee of the Americans for Democratic Action organization. They objected to the "concept of paying for garbage," and also didn't think Gobbles taught kids a good message about how to treat animals.
Washington Post — Dec 8, 1979
However, the toy made an impression on filmmaker John Waters. He shared his thoughts about it in his essay "Why I Love Christmas":
For years friends have treated me to the toy annually selected by the Consumer Affairs Committee of Americans for Democratic Action as the "worst toy" to give your child at Christmastime. "Gobbles, the Garbage-Eating Goat" started my collection.
"That crazy eating goat" reads the delightful package, and in small print, "Contains: One realistic goat with head that goes up and down. Comes complete with seven pieces of pretend garbage."
This Kenner Discovery Time toy's instructions are priceless. "Gobbles loves to eat garbage when he's hungry, and he's ALWAYS hungry. (1) Hold Gobbles mouth open by the beard. Stuff a piece of pretend garbage straight into his mouth and (2) pump the tail until the garbage disappears."
It ends with an ominous warning, "Feed Gobbles only the garbage that comes with the toy," and in even smaller print "If you need additional garbage, we will, as a service, send it to you direct. For 14 pieces of garbage send $1 (check or money order; sorry, no C.O.D.) to . . . . "
I can't tell you the hours of fun I've had with Gobbles. Sometimes when I'm very bored, Gobbles and I get naked and play-play.
Books Selected and endorsed for Pure Weirdness by Your WU Team
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Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.
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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.
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