Toy madnesses that erupted into violence


If you were a parent in the early 1980s, making your child happy came with great physical risk. During the height of the Cabbage Patch Kids phenomenon, greedy shoppers were sometimes trampled on or threatened by store owners with bats when demand exceeded supply.

These cherub-cheeked dolls weren’t the only toys that caused hysteria and violence. Every now and then a hot toy appears that appears to strip shoppers of their humanity and turn toy aisles into crime scenes. Here are some of the most dismal episodes in history.

1. Tickle Me Elmo or Else (1996)

Tyco had no idea of ​​the havoc that would follow their release of Tickle Me Elmo, a cackle-packed version of the popular. Sesame Street character they released in 1996. (An earlier idea to make a Tickle Me Taz by Looney Tunes fame has been dropped.) Thanks to a media blitz and a tickle feature that could be easily demonstrated in stores, Tickle Me Elmo has become the must-have toy of the season.

The store clerks have paid the price. Robert waller, an employee of a Walmart in New Brunswick, Canada, had the misfortune of coming between shoppers and a shipment of Elmos, suffering from a broken rib, strained hamstrings and pain. ‘a concussion. “I was pulled down, stomped on – the crotch was ripped from my brand new jeans,” Waller said. As his elongated body lay on the ground, the buyers rushed over to the chuckling Elmos.

Time did little to quench Elmo’s voracious appetite. In 2006, during the release of TMX’s 10th anniversary doll Elmo that could turn into a hysteric, a man from Tampa, Florida was robbed at gunpoint. The thief didn’t want his wallet, just the TMX Elmo he was wearing.

2. The Fists of Furby (1998)

The Furby Tweet made Hasbro a fortune in the late 1990s, charming consumers with its “Furbish” bleating and ping-pong-shaped eyes. Demand hit a boiling point at a Walmart in Bethlehem, Pa. On Black Friday 1998, when crowds of shoppers rushed into the store when it opened. The most zealous of them were alleged stepping on two women, who claimed to have suffered head, neck and back injuries at the scene and sued the department store giant for failing to put adequate Furby security in place.

Similar events played in stores in Massachusetts, Illinois and Colorado. In Arlington, Texas, consumers who found out the Furby was gone shouted curses at the workers. All this for a toy intended for children from 6 years old.

3. Pogs of War (1995)

If you have seen The simpsons, you have probably seen Milhouse van Houten enthusiastic approval of Pogs, collectible chips featuring pop culture characters that can be used for games. (“Remember ALF? He’s back – in Pog form!”) The tokens were very real, and during a time so popular that schools witnessed brawls over the outcome of the games: winners take Loser’s Pogs, a consequence not always accepted by Pog-less. In schools in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Washington, teachers banned Pogs from their grounds after the kids have argued over them. According to a director, the “slammer” disc, which was used to knock down other Pogs, could be used as a makeshift weapon. Fortunately, the fashion quickly faded.

4. Forget it (2014)

Disney fans Frozen went wild for Elsa, the princess trapped in ice in one of the company’s biggest animated hits. The ensuing rush for merchandise – and empty shelves – sometimes brought parents to their breaking point. A Disney Store employee in Times Square said The New York Post in 2014, that “people engaged in physical fights” over toys. The problem, according to Disney, was that they just hadn’t anticipated how popular the movie would become.

5. Pokemon Rap Sheet (1999)

The Japanese collectible card game was and remains a sensation among fans, but at the time Pokemon the cards were introduced for the first time, things could heat up. On the playing fields where collectors exchanged their cards, anyone who felt like they were getting a bad deal could go after them. According to at Maclean’s, a 14-year-old Quebecer whose brother was allegedly scammed by another boy for the cards the offender was confronted with. This boy, who was 12, pulled out a knife and cut his enemy hard enough that stitches were needed.

6. The Great Hat Baby Riot (1999)

Beanie Babies are the brainchild of Ty Warner, who turned the plush toy market upside down by limiting the availability of his animals and “taking them out” after a limited time. This caused a frenzied market of Beanie Babies being bought and sold for a lot of money. (Claude the Crab alone might need a bank loan.)

The allure of beanie money has led to some tense situations. In 1999 in Ogden, Utah, a crowd of buyers went down on a Tina’s Hallmark, eager to be the first to get their hands on a new Beanie shipment. When someone cut the line, a polite scrum erupted, with a lot of shoving. Police responded and no one (or Beanies) were reported injured.

As with Tickle Me Elmo, time hasn’t done much to hold back loyal Beanie Baby enthusiasts. In October 2021, a Snohomish, Wash. Man was arrested for smashing his roommate’s head with a baseball bat before wielding a gun. The man, who has not been identified by name in the media, has been noted being upset, his Beanie Babies were gone.

In court, Judge Anthony Howard seemed in disbelief. “I have a police report here that says you are currently upset that some Beanie Babies have been stolen,” he said. “You allegedly decided that this justified giving a bat and a gun to the people you thought had stolen from you.” The fate of the Beanies has yet to be revealed.

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