Horrible / Toys

"Titanium Megatron isn't even a toy. A toy is something that someone - even one person - can derive joy from. From design to engineering, concept, marketing, painting, functionality - in every possible aspect, this... thing is the physical embodiment of a disaster."
TJ Omega reviewing what he deems the worst Transformers toy ever.

While everyone has their different ideas of what's fun, sometimes a toy is just a bad idea waiting to happen. The mere lack of articulation doesn't make a toy horrible, as that's just too common. It takes some real ingenuity to make you truly regret a purchase.

As a general note, Jeepers Media and Ashens specialize in showing the worst toys the world had to offer. In fact, most of the toys listed here have been featured by them.

Important Note: Merely being offensive in its subject matter is not enough to justify a work as So Bad It's Horrible. Hard as it is to imagine at times, there is a market for all types of deviancy (no matter how small a niche it is). It has to fail to appeal even to that niche to qualify as this.

Examples (more-or-less in alphabetical order):

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  • The Limited Edition Bravely Default Agnes figurine for the European and Japanese markets. Her eyes are lopsided and the overall paint job is terrible. What made this worse was the fact that this figure was the reason they had to pay extra, even more than the American version. The Americans dodged the bullet with this one.
  • From the realm of anime/visual novel figurines comes the bootleg of the Clayz figurine of Saber, from Fate/stay night. Its eyes are just black and blue dots on white circles (and the right eye doesn't even have an iris!), and its mouth is just a black line. This Alternative Character Interpretation has come to be known as "Sader" among fans, featuring in fanart, doujinshi, and even cosplay.
    • Bootleg or knockoff toys are generally this until proven otherwise. Generally, the best you can hope for is that it'll at least be a passable substitute (or, like Sader, at least somewhat funny or unique in how much of a mess it is). It's considered extremely lucky to get your hands on a knockoff where all the joints still work, and the plastic is often so cheap that you can bend or break the toy just by squeezing it... spreading lots of tiny sharp choking hazards all over the floor...
  • The G.I. Joe Extreme line. A decidedly Dark Age-inspired take on the G.I. Joe franchise, the figures were widely criticized for their non-existent articulation, bad character design with Liefeldian muscles and facial expressions that made them look constipated, and poor gimmicks. Not helping matter, the line went with a 5" scale, making it incompatible with figures from both G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero and the preceding Sgt Savage and his Screaming Eagles line (which was also suffered from the scale issue, but is otherwise considered to be decent). Extreme was a complete flop, lasting only two waves before being quietly canned. See Robot Chicken pokes fun of the line here.
  • Out of all the lines of figurines amongst collectors, Mighty Muggs is one of the most reviled. Hasbro developed the line as super deformed characters in the vein of Funko's Pop! figures and Good Smile's Nendoroid figurines, minus what made those figurines good. Mighty Muggs primarily suffer from having the same body or head, just with a different paintjob. Sometimes they may have little accoutrements, but for the most part they're just repaints. Even then, the style is very unappealing for collectors as they often suffer from bizarre, often laughable faces and due to reused bodies, the characters often just look hideous. Poor Captain America has a hilariously oversized chin, The Thing looks constantly confused, and the less said about Chewbacca, the better. The only good part of the line was that people started customizing the toys with far better designs than the creators. But regardless, the brand was thankfully cancelled after a few lines.
  • The first line of Resident Evil action figures from the early 2000's were, to put it charitably, very lazily made. For background, each pack came with 2 figures (except the Tyrant figure, but more on him in a bit), usually a larger character or monster, and a smaller mini-monster. The Chris figure's arms would fall off if you so much as looked at them funny, because the socket in the shoulders was larger than the ball joint in the torso. The molds for the dog zombie's skin (a feature of the dog was that if you pushed his head down, he'd "explode") were not cut properly, so the pieces fit awkwardly. The Tyrant figure boasted a "deadly claw swipe" action, which amounted to a rubber band in his torso that would frequently come undone while in the package, as well as a beating heart action which amounted to nothing more than a button which would pump red liquid into a transparent plastic heart. Thankfully, they company got their act together with the next line (based on Resident Evil 2), which was far and away the superior toy line. In fairness, however, it must be pointed out that the detail work on the monsters was top notch throughout the entire line, even the disastrous series 1.
    • It should be noted that, among the older Resident Evil toys, these are the most common ones to find and are often the cheapest (Only the NECA line is more common and cheaper...and it's newer as well). Make of that what you will.
    • Here's a few reviews of the figures on Amazon.com. Even the positive reviews point out that the toys have major flaws.
  • Despite being a cherished and well-loved franchise, Transformers has made numerous mistakes throughout the years:
    • Gold Plastic Syndrome. A number of Transformers toys made in the late 1980s and early 1990s were, in part or in whole, constructed with a kind of swirly plastic that crumbled quite quickly, especially on moving parts. Certain toys (like the reissue of Slingshot, various Pretenders and the Japanese exclusive Black Zarak) are known to shatter before they are taken out of the box. There are pictures of the effects of GPS in the article linked above. Thankfully, this has been fixed and that plastic is not used...mostly.
    • Besides the GPS plastic, some translucent plastic variants are also known to break very easily. The Deluxe-class 2007 movie Brawl figure had its inner gear mechanics made out of such plastic, which tended to shatter right at the figure's first transformation. On top of that, the posts that held its arms in place didn't match the shape of the holes they were supposed to peg into. Thankfully, the toy was released some time later in new colors, which fixed all of these issues.
    • Unposeable "brick" Transformers. The Generation 1 toys can get away with it, but in later series, like most Armada and some Energon toys (especially the Powerlinked modes), they are atrocious Energon Wing Saber is literally a Flying Brick, and not in the good way. With today's toy technology, there just isn't an excuse for something with all the poseability of a cinderblock and whose transformation basically consists of lying the figure down, especially the larger and more expensive ones.
    • Toys over-laden with intrusive gimmicks, affectionately nicknamed "Gimmickformers", are generally detested. While these are meant to cater to a younger crowd, when a figure has so many things going on that these detract from the transformation, articulation, and aesthetics, even they may repelled by it. Such a figure is the infamous Transformers Armada Side Swipe — featuring a boring (though passable) car-mode, a Mini-Con "catapult" that doesn't normally work, and a hideous robot-mode with excess vehicle-bits hanging off everywhere (including the aforementioned catapult on his butt), the posability of a brick, and the exciting Mini-Con activated action-feature of raising its right arm, which you can do manually. Toy-reviewer TJ Omega once did a breakdown on the figure, coming to the conclusion that its head was the only part not to have any detracting design faults.
    • And the many Asian and German bootlegs/knockoffs. Such as Woodblockformers, anyone?
    • There was a wave of Deluxe Transformers (the 6 inch toys sold for approximately $13) made from upsized Legion figures (their budget line of simplified figures that sell for $5). Not only are the figures less detailed and screen-accurate than regular Deluxe Transformers, they actually have less articulation than the already limited Legion figures. It doesn't help that upscaling figure is very common practice among knockoff makers. These toys hit non-US buyers even harder, as the standard price for Deluxes can reach up to $30 or more in certain countries, so they get even less for their buck.
    • The Titanium series was one of the franchise's first efforts at a collector-focused line, promising obscure characters, little intrusive gimmickry, and the return of the much-loved die-cast metal construction. However, its development was outsourced to a branch of Hasbro that normally made metal statues, and consequently, many of their early figures basically were metal statues. The "collector-quality" paint washes were uneven and ugly, the articulation ranged from average to bizarre, with unusually small ranges of motion, and they cost fifteen bucks despite being the same size as a ten-dollar Deluxe-class. Transformations usually consisted of lying the figure down, with exposed hands and arms being the norm. The most infamous feature of the line, however, resulted from the metal itself. Not only did the metal weigh down joints, it also tended to wear down the softer plastic, creating figures that were, at best, floppy, and at worst, fell to pieces in a stiff breeze. Keep in mind that this line ran during the same year as the Classics line, often considered to be one of the best Transformers lines ever. The line picked up as time went on, but by the arrival of fairly decent figures like Cheetor or The Fallen, the damage had been done.
    • The Built to Rule line was a failed early attempt at re-imagining the Transformers brand as LEGO-like construction toys. Although the toys had to be taken apart to transform, they did have an inner armature of sorts called the "Trans-Skeleton" that could be folded up to act as a base for the vehicle modes or folded out to become a robot. Sadly, the idea to have these Transformers retain some actual transforming was one of the reasons why the line failed, as these Trans-Skeletons were horribly proportioned, with the figures having giant, junky midsections and minuscule, barely movable arms and oddly placed, spindly legs. The toys hardly looked anything like their actual transforming counterparts, and had masses of cluttered excess pieces stuck onto them in random places, or worse, left out pieces even if they could easily have been fitted into the toys — resulting in some truly ugly figures which were over-designed in some places and bare to the Trans-Skeleton in others. The line ran for a single year, with its second series (which was a drastic improvement) only receiving a limited release. Hasbro released Kre-O, their new foray into the world of constructible Transformers 8 years later, to great success this time.
    • The beast mode of Beast Machines Silverbolt was so laughable-looking, Hasbro themselves packaged the figure in robot-mode, even though the other similar-sized toys came packaged in their alternate-mode. That's meant to be a condor, by the way, a humanoid condor with clawed legs dangling in front of its wings, and a tubular robot-head coming out of its rear — this is especially strange, since the tiny head could easily have been concealed within the spacious torso, with the samurai bun-styled hairpiece blending in with the tail feathers in bird mode. The wings detach and split to form the tiniest, most pathetic sword imaginable, which the figure can't hold up due to its weight and to the arm joint having next to no friction. The wings can be put onto the robot's back for storage, but only upside-down. They could be folded up to look like a samurai robe, but they always stress against the legs due to being pre-bent. One of the main reasons why the figure is often regarded as one of the worst-ever Transformers is that Silverbolt never received another toy in the line, so the only physical representation of the cartoon's towering, awesome-looking warrior is this measly, garish red-blue freak who's smaller than all the other Maximals despite being the tallest in the show. The Japanese version was at least somewhat accurate in its colors. Rumor has it the figure was originally meant to be a gryphon, which would explain why it has four legs as a condor. The fact that it has no knees as a robot and that the robot feet have an extra transformation step which isn't used in either configuration (this does allow him to have knees at the cost of the feet's stability) also reveal that the toy was only halfway through its design phase when released.
      • And bear in mind, this is not only from a toyline that's not just universally reviled amongst the fandom due to its inaccuracy to the show, and the general quality its Basic-class figures overallnote . But also from the same line that introduced the short-lived "Supreme" sub-line- A series of figures that were supposed to be more show accurate to its counterparts, yet failed hard. Case in point: Supreme Cheetor. A figure hyped up by Hasbro themselves to be as show accurate as possible. Only it was hindered by its obtrusive gimmicks (which affected arm articulation horribly); butt-ugly design; a completely inaccurate color scheme (his normally purple spots became black, and he suddenly sported green abs with no explanation) and a complete inability to stand under its own power. Needless to say, the experiment bombed, and the figure was clearanced almost immediately after its release.
    • Most of the figures reviewed and comically ridiculed by TJ Omega's Plastic Addict series are borderline examples that aren't bad enough to fit onto this page. But some, like the entries on his top 5 worst-ever list are (all the usual suspects are present: Titanium, Built To Rule as well as figures with intrusive gimmicks, faulty materials, and just plain shoddy designs). Likewise, most of the Animorphs tie-in toys released under the Transformers banner are generally despised, as they are badly designed in both of their modes: ugly animals with human-bits sticking out and vice-versa. Transforming robots that incorporate animal-parts into their designs can get away with this, but feathers, talons, claws and such look decidedly off on a human. The alien toys were a bit better, thanks to no human parts hanging off.
  • An official product, Mos-Kos, or what fans called "Evil God Kos-Mos", from the special edition version of Xenosaga: Episode II. Notable failures include badly sculpted face and an incredibly awkward pose that cannot be altered. The only cool thing about it was the motorcycle it came with.

    Other Toys 
  • Cracked has an article called "The 5 Least Surprising Toy Recalls of All Time", listing variously dangerous toys. Amongst them...
    • Sky Dancers. The wicked offspring of a spinning top, a helicopter, and a Barbie doll. It came out looking like a beautiful fairy with propeller wings and a launcher. When those little dolls went spinning... well, let's just say that there's a good reason why nowadays, most flying toys like this have rings encircling the protruding, rotating wings. Their foam wings became blades of doom that could seriously mess up a kid's face with cuts and slashes. There's no way to control those beauties once they are launched, and it's hard to predict where they will go...which is why they're "Dancers"!
      • There was also a boys' version called Dragon Flyz. There are also imitators. They could be quite enjoyable it's just that they were also surprisingly dangerous.
      • Surprisingly, the Sky Dancers toy design has been brought back by Mattel for a DC Superhero Girls tie-in. Let's hope they learned from Galoob's mistakes.
    • Lawn Darts. Feathered Javelins! Surprisingly, they came out in the early 1960s and were only recalled when the first injuries were reported... in 1988.
      • Charlie Murphy (Eddie's brother, best known for writing for Chappelle's Show) appeared on an episode of 1000 Ways to Die that had the story of a coked-up guy from the 1970s having a barbecue with his other drugged-out buddies (with the coked-up guy getting impaled in the head with a lawn dart after getting sidelined by a woman who just went topless) to comment on how the 1970s was a decade full of wall-to-wall health hazards, from people eating fatty foods to abusing drugs to playing with lawn darts (which most people did while under the influence).
      • "Impaled by a stray lawn dart" is also one of the "Terrible Misfortunes" that can befall your bunnies in Killer Bunnies And The Quest For The Magic Carrot.
      • If you want to be technical, lawn darts were really invented around about 500 BCE... as Roman weaponry.
    • Snacktime Cabbage Patch Dolls, a 1996 Cabbage Patch doll sold with the gimmick that its mouth moved as it appeared to "eat" the plastic carrots and cookies sold with it. The problem was, once it started chewing, it didn't stop until the plastic food was sucked in...and little fingers and hair set it off just as well as plastic food. The only way to turn it off was to remove the toy's backpack... something buried in the instructions so deep, nobody saw it until it was announced publicly.
      • An episode of The X-Files took the idea and ran with it. There was also a Dexter's Laboratory episode where Dexter and Dee Dee find a "Mr. Chewy Bitems" in the city dump; Dex tries to recall why they discontinued the toy as Dee Dee runs around in the background screaming with the bear chewing on one of her ponytails.
      • The obscure comic book series Robotboy (not to be confused with the popular animated series of the same name) had an album in which the titular robotboy takes exaggerated versions one of these to its home after which they bring havoc and try to destroy the house. The quote from the corporate executive that ordered those toys to be destroyed sums the thing up:
      The idea was to give toys to kids so that they never had to clear away their stuff. What the manufacturer did not tell us however was that the toys cleared it away by eating them.
  • The 2006 Easy-Bake Oven. Easy-Bake ovens have been around since the 1950s and are, as the name claims, easy to use...but a recent redesign made the opening small enough to put a tiny hand in, but not take it out. Next to a newly designed heating element. Ouch.
  • Aqua Dots (Bindeez in its native Australia) is (or was) a fun little collection of interlocking beads designed for the creation of multidimensional shapes, as seen on TV. You had to get them wet before they would stick together. But the coating released one ingredient it shouldn't have when exposed to water a form of the date-rape drug GHB. Should someone put that in their mouths...
    • This wasn't the fault of the company that made them, but rather the Chinese plant that manufactured the toys. Essentially, they found out that some chemical was much less expensive than the one they were supposed to be using, but still worked. They didn't do the research that said chemical metabolizes into GHB, or else they didn't care. (They also didn't tell the company that they made the swap.) And yet, for all the Chinese toy manufacturer chaos that was going on in the media at the time, the blame fell squarely on the toy company for this.
    • They still exist, though thankfully with the non-GHB formulation. They were renamed to Pixos (Beados in Australia) and marketed as "safety tested". In fact, they were marketed the same way Aqua Dots were, with the same announcer and background music (compare and contrast). Now, they are marketed in America under the name of Beados.
  • Breath Blasters, a novelty toy from the 1980s which were designed to spray horrible scents in people's faces. Never mind the obnoxious premise, but the packaging claimed that the material used in making the scents were non-toxic... which was untrue, as large amounts of the vapours could lead to poisoning. There were also many reports of people actually getting ill over long exposure to them, leading to the toys to be banned.
  • Chilly Bang! Bang! was a chilled juice-drink toy released in 1989 by Mackie International consisting of a gun-shaped packet of juice. To drink it, you had to stick the barrel in your mouth and pull the trigger. And if you thought Persona 3 was controversial...
    • My Name Is Earl had a minor character have a similar gun. Given that he also had a real gun... And take two guesses how said character wound up dead in a later episode.
    Chubby Jr: Well, Dad did say never to trust a Doctor. But then again, Dad now has a bullet hole where vodka should be.
  • The CSI Fingerprint Examination Kit, released circa 2007, which included powders for children to analyze fingerprints with that were found to contain alarming levels of asbestos. Since inhalation of it can lead to respiratory problems, including lung cancer, the kit was almost immediately recalled.
  • What about the Dark Knight "hidden blade" katana toy? Y'know, the one with the hard plastic spring-loaded blade in the handle? The one that shot out with such force that it can cause blunt force trauma if the kids weren't expecting it? The one that can be activated by an easily-hit trigger in the handle? Yeah, that one. How could this be safe for kids?
  • The DigiDraw promised to make tracing, an already simple act, even easier by placing the thing to be traced between a light and a suspended glass pane, projecting its image onto a blank piece of paper. Its ridiculously poor design meant that even if you could assemble it, the resulting projection was faint at best, and it would screw with your focus to the point where you couldn't do a perfect trace, assuming you hadn't already ruined it by nudging the paper even slightly. And trust us, we are not alone in this belief.
  • The Evilstick (sic). At first glance, it looks like an ordinary cheap-looking bootleg toy, complete with an infringing image of Card Captor Sakura on the package. The package claims to "send out wonderful music" when the toy actually plays a creepy laugh. The worst part: some have a photograph of a demonic-looking girl slitting her wrist with a knife hidden behind the foil, and it was marketed as a children's toy!
  • Flubber, a Silly Putty-like mixture of synthetic rubber and mineral oil released by Hasbro in 1963 to promote the film Son of Flubber. A poor mixing of the combination was extremely toxic, though, as was the first batch released to the public, and many who played with it came down with serious fevers and rashes. Hasbro immediately recalled the Flubber and prepared to dispose of it. However, when the company tried burying the stuff at sea it floated to the top, and when they tried burning the goop it wouldn't ignite (plenty of noxious black smoke, though). Eventually, Hasbro buried what remained near their Rhode Island factory, and paved a parking lot over it. An Urban Legend claims that if you look closely at the cracks in that parking lot on hot days, you can see the Flubber oozing up... Sweet dreams!
  • The Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Laboratory was a standard toy lab set sold in the early 50s, except for one catch: it contained actual samples of uranium. Yes, uranium, the metallic and radioactive element from our periodic table. It wasn't actually recalled - it was so expensive to make (considering the price of a fissile material that you could make a homemade bomb with if you bought enough of them) that the toy company considered it a liability and stopped making it, according to QI.
  • In a similar case to the Transformers GPS above, LEGO also fumbled up their own plastic around '07, which resulted in nearly all of the lime-green colored pieces becoming ridiculously fragile. This affected the BIONICLE sets of that era greatly, which were already prone to breaking due to the faulty sculpting of the ball-socket joints. Since that line of sets had more lime-colored pieces than usual, it is needless to say that fans were not amused with the ordeal, as it meant that they couldn't take apart and rebuild their LEGO sets. Reportedly, some of these lime pieces broke right at the figures' first assembly.
    • The problem only got worse. Pretty much any socket joint from '08-'10 has a high risk of breakage, due to the rectangular sockets that were originally meant to remedy this problem. Thankfully, LEGO seems to have learned its lesson; the more recent action figure sets have stronger socket joints.
    • Bionicle rubber bands suffered from this too. There were two kinds: the older, less durable variants with a rectangular cross-section, and the lot more durable and higher-quality rounded rubber bands. Early sets came with the older bands, and these tended to rot away within years of the figures' assembly, rendering the action functions of the sets entirely useless. But this can be sort of forgiven, as the better rubber band hadn't been introduced yet (which only happened in 2002). For some strange reason, though, the 2005 set-line (the Visorak) got divided into two sub-lines: the regular, which had colored canisters and the better kind of rubber band, and another line, which came in black containers and had the older band. Yes, they reached back to the bad bands, which, as you may have suspected, broke or melted off with time, thereby taking away the sets' main gimmick, the Visorak's snapping pincers.
  • Marvin's Magic Drawing Board, which came along near the end of The '90s. It billed itself as a reusable scratchboard. Even if it were, in fact, reusable, simply putting a mark on it took the will of a thousand men. Much like the later DigiDraw, it was meant to do something simple, and it couldn't do that.
  • The 2003 Powerpuff Girls Girl's Makeup Kit, which contained pink lotion that was contaminated with Pseudomonas aeruginosa, not something you're going to want your little girl to be slathering on her face, as it can be deadly for children with damaged immune systems, and even in a healthy child can lead to eye abscesses and ear infections...and, in rare cases, meningitis. Sounds more like a evil plot by the Amoeba Boys than a kid's toy.
  • Rollerblade Barbie, which had a gimmick that made the skates spark. Slightly risky if used on lacquered vanities with hairspray in the air.
    • Bill Engvall discussed seeing this on the news once:
      "What if Barbie rollerskated through a pool of gasoline?"
      "What if Barbie had a hand grenade? Is that a common household problem now?"
    • For exactly this reason, there will never again be a Transformers toy with sparking action. Actually maybe not.
    • Razor of all companies marketed, for a month or so in 2009, a scooter that came with its own spark generator.
  • In August of 2016, during its big marketing push for The Olympics in Rio, McDonald's sold the STEP iT! Activity Band in its Happy Meals across North America in an attempt to encourage kids to exercise more by measuring how many steps they take. Unfortunately, the product was so cheaply made that many kids (over 70, to be precise) reported suffering skin irritation from wearing the things with at least seven receiving burns and blisters, forcing McD's to recall the product within eight days of its launch. [1]
  • Tie 'N Tangle, a game based on wrapping other players in a web of nylon string, would otherwise be So Bad, It's Good based on its unintentional reference to bondage had it not been for its significant safety hazards: people can fall and hit their head, be strangled by the cord; etc. Even worse, the cord is too strong to be broken by hand, in case an emergency does happen. Jeepers Media suggests destroying this game, as its vintage worth is far outweighed by the hazards it possesses.
  • The Wubble Bubble Ball is an exercise on why you shouldn't stretch claims you make on the box. This giant inflatable bubble-like ball has a very appealing advertisement that repeatedly makes note of the fact that it's very durable and easy to inflate. Unfortunately, many parents of dismayed children beg to differ—the ball supposedly takes 2-3 minutes to inflate, but to many people, is so frustrating it can take a half-hour, and once you do get the ball inflated, it's as brittle as an actual bubble—it can pop and get holes even when it's merely on grass. Plenty of parents have took to Amazon to state their frustrations with the Wubble. Partly infamous is the fact that there have been numerous Wubble-related toys and redone versions of it released...and according to customer reviews they never improve.
    • Commercials for the Wubble Bubble Ball can be seen on TV, showing children so happy they may have been drugged bopping the Wubble Bubble back and forth enthusiastically, and even sitting on them. However, if you pay attention, there's a half-second shot of the Wubble Bubble popping on some thorns with the narrator quickly blurting "keepitawayfromsharpthings," presumably so Wubble Bubble's creators have some contradictory claims in case of a suit.