5 WTF Were They Thinking Toys No. 4 – Clackers

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010. Filed under: Killer Toys

I hope you had the chance to grab your Snack Time Cabbage Patch Doll over the weekend so your kids could enj… oh wait, crap, those things will kill your child.  I almost forgot the point of the WTF Were They Thinking Series series: to point out the absolutely worst toys ever made ever

The next WTF toy we’re featuring is called The Clacker (aka Kabangers aka Klick-Klacks aka Klackers aka Whackers and so on – I’m serious, there’s a dozen variations of the name).

Before the dawn of the Vuvuzela, there was an apparatus that had two balls on a string that would make a loud, obnoxious noise.  Take a stab at what the noise might be. If not, I’ll tell you.  It clacks. A lot.  It almost sounds like firecrackers going off or even an old beater of a car starting up.

4.  The infamous EXPLODING Clackers

Toy Factoid

banned clackers toy

The toy consisted of two acrylic balls (roughly the size of golf balls) attached to cotton twine.  You’d move your hand up and down so the balls would hit each other at the right time and work up a rhythm.  It’s actually a lot harder than it sounds if you’ve never done it.

The time is set in the disco era, 1970s-ish, an era of pointing to the sky and the ground a lot, magical shiny spinning orbs and John Travolta.  It would only be fitting for clackers to come out at this time.  We were unable to track down the inventor of this toy.  This would presumably be due to the fact that there are so many names this toy goes by and how easily this toy would be reproduced by anyone.  If it were up to me, I would actually use two mini-piñatas attached to a shortened jump rope, two toys in one.  Genius.

To demonstrate this marvelous piece of toy technology, I will provide you with a how-to video.  After all, a video is worth a million words (I think is how the saying goes) and it wouldn’t do it justice without seeing it in action.

It starts off so mellow, almost lulling you to sleep, then WHACK WHACK WHACK – Gwahhh!


Apparently, the instructions, or lack of for the most part, weren’t clear enough to kids.  You give a sack filled with plastic balls attached to some string and you’d think they’d figure it out quickly enough.  Right?  WRONG!

Let’s stop for a moment and go back in history.  The history of HUNTING WEAPONS.  This little “toy” was known as the Bolas (one of its names) and dates back to pre-historic times.  It was constructed out of several weighted stone balls held together with braided leather used for hunting cattle or game.  The hunter would twirl this device over their head and either wrap up the legs of their prey (if they were skilled enough) or smack the crap out of it to slow it down.  You can see where I’m going with this.

Bolas Clackers Toy Horse Rider

Well the problem here is many children had no clue how to correctly or safely “play” with this “toy.”  I believe they channeled their inner hunter and started causing a ruckus.  Guess what? Kids started hunting each other.  Bruised forearms, broken teeth and bloodshot eyes ensued.  On occasion, if these balls were swung hard and fast enough, they would explode, causing colorful shrapnel-of-delight to be conveniently lodged into the soft tissues of the child playing with it.

You can’t see me right now, but I’m typing with one hand.  My other hand is placed firmly on my forehead in disgust (sarcasm).

This incident happened enough that it warranted a massive recall from big brother CSPC (Consumer Product Safety Commission).  Jeez, these guys sure are buzz kills.  I’d hate having my clacker balls taken away.

clackers toy then and now ok banned

However, the profit-monger companies that made the toy found ways around this and in the 1990s re-introduced the “new and improved” non-exploding version of the toy, or so the theory goes.  The string was replaced with hardened plastic triangles attached to the handles.

My only thought is that these companies just made it a lot easier to swing these things faster and, while you can’t twirl them as elegantly as before, you can still tomahawk-throw them at unsuspecting prey children.

What. The. Hell.

evil clackers hurt child

I’m off to the bat cave to prep for our next marvelous toy.

Until next time!

Sampa Dad

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