5 Times Tech and Toys Didn't Mix

We love tech-y toys. So much so, that we sometimes wonder why we even buy them for our kids when, well...

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Despite our fascination and enthusiasm for when technology and entertainment combine, there are always times when it just doesn't work out. Let's look at some of the more disastrous pairings:

Hello Barbie

hello barbie
credit: Hello Barbie

For generations, Barbie has listened to little girls' dreams, wishes, and deepest thoughts. Only recently has Barbie been able to store those whisperings in the Cloud, far away from a child's actual home. Hello Barbie was billed in 2015 as the first truly interactive doll, with a microphone that records kids' speech and wi-fi enabled so it can upload those words, run them through an algorithm, and download an acceptable response. Just like all the best conversations, right?

Unfortunately, that "Big Brother" factor isn't the only thing creepy about Hello Barbie. A security expert discovered that the doll and the Cloud can be hacked from a distance. Hackers can not only grab audio files of children, but also find out where the family lives. Even worse, they could potentially control the microphone and the servers transmitting replies back to the child, so your little girl or boy could be conversing with a hacker and you wouldn't even know it.

Lightning Reaction Extreme

You can spend all that time teaching little ones to avoid electrical outlets, or zap them with this frightening, fried family pastime. This board game consists of four handles and a timer. When the timer goes off, someone receives an electric shock. Although the directions say that players should be 14 years of age and up, it's easy to imagine kids joining in a family gathering to play. How much the electric shocks hurt depends on the players' constitution, but hey, what says family game night like some light electrocution?

Caveman Minion Happy Meal Toy

Caveman Minion and Other Minion Happy Meal Toys on a rock
credit: Beth Bartlett

It's hard to understand what Minions say in the first place, but one particular toy could be re-named Wash-Your-Mouth-Out Minion. In 2015, McDonald's ran a tie-in campaign with the Minions movie, and if you listen very closely, it seems like the Caveman Minion curses. Not only that, little yellowpants garbles the F-word, and no, it's not "fun." If the kids aren't around, here's audio.

McDonald's took no action, because the cursing seems to be in the ear of the beholder.

Teen Talk Barbie

Barbie has had her share of run-ins with language and parents, but in the 1990s it wasn't a curse word getting her in trouble. The classic fail of Teen Talk Barbie was spouting, "Math class is tough!" along with other mind-numbing gems like "Do you have a crush on anyone?" Women's groups said it gave the impression that girls weren't as good as boys at math, and Mattel took the offending phrase out of the doll's vocabulary. Frankly, they should have done an intervention on behalf of that wardrobe and the slight Valley Girl accent as well.

CSI Fingerprint Kit

csi fingerprint kit
credit: Tree Hugger

One of the important parts in creating science and technology toys is to make sure they are accurate, fun, and, uh, won't poison kids. One of those on the checklist was left off for the CSI Fingerprint Kit. The dust that kids used to sprinkle over potential prints and then blow away was amazingly carcinogenic, with enough asbestos in it that even one good inhale could affect children's long-term health. It only took two years for environmental and parental groups to finally get the toy recalled in 2009. Although the toy had "investigation" right in the title, no one apparently thought to look a little more thoroughly into the manufacturing process before cashing in on this TV show tie-in. CBS and Planet Toys offered up a settlement before someone could invent the Law & Order Injury Lawsuit Playset.

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