Features Images 2006 12 Mini-Hammock
Radar Online has a pretty funny feature on the most dangerous toys of all time, including a 50s mini-lab that included radioactive material — Hello, Putin! — and several classics like Jarts and the PlastiGoop Thing-Maker. We had great fun with the latter toxic toy, back in the days when children were tough enough to master high temperature plastics extrusion and consider it play. One item on the list did puzzle us, however, the dreaded mini-hammock which is claimed to have strangled or nearly strangled dozens of kids.

The culprit was a missing set of “spreader bars,” supports meant to keep the hammock open when it was “at ease.” Unfortunately, children seeking to spend an afternoon like Gilligan became entangled in the net and strangled to death. That’s what happens when you spend $4 on a hammock.

This is really odd to us, because we had one of those spreader-free hammocks — in fact we spent many an afternoon in one from the 1976-82 period during our youth in Somerville, NJ. (The set-up was almost exactly like the one pictured — two trees, a picket fence, the works.) It was in this contraption that we enjoyed many a long comic book reading orgy, a pile of Defenders or Master of Kung Fu at the ready, with perhaps a chocolate dreamsicle as an added treat. It was an idyllic time, our very own “golden Age” of comics, and to learn that we were moments from panicky entrapment all that time is alarming, to say the least. Or perhaps we should merely be more proud of the natural athleticism and dexterity which our survival suggests. God, we were tough then!

[Thanks to Franklin for the link.]


  1. I too have fond early 80’s memories of those hammocks. We had three mounted on our front porch when I lived on the beach in Nantasket, MA. I do seem to remember some young kids having trouble negotiating them, but I think the trick was to lay in them cross-wise, using your whole body as a *spreader*.

    My favorite mass marketed dangerous toy from my youth, was the Wham-O Air Blaster. Of course we improvised the *really* dangerous toys from common household items ;)

    Kerry M

  2. One time my grandmother in Lincoln, Neb had one set up so I could read my Doc Savage books – but I wound up falling on my ass trying to get out of the stupid thing.

    And when the hell is Marvel EVER gonna release a Essential volume of Master of Kung Fu?