Mattel’s ‘Missile Toy’ Recall, 1979

March 17, 1979. (Lyn Atwels/The Denver Post)

The photo caption reads:

Tom Rosinski holds in his left hand the toy part that went down his windpipe. Surgeons removed the Battlestar Galactica space toy from his lung during a 30-minute operation.

The toy part is a missile from the Colonial Stellar Probe. The missiles were spring-loaded into the nose of the ship and released by pressing that little white button on top of the nose.

A few days after Christmas, 1978, another boy, 4-year-old Robert Jeffrey Warren, died from complications after choking on a missile from the Cylon Raider. I found a pretty comprehensive story about the incident and the resulting fallout in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune (story begins mid-page).

Mattel initiated a recall of the missiles shortly after Warren’s death and offered a free Hot Wheels car to everyone who returned them. Read about the recall and Mattel’s mail-in offer at the Palm Beach Post.

In March of 1979, Jeffrey’s parents sued Mattel. An excerpt from what appears to be a different legal suit is below, courtesy of the Star Wars Collectors Archive.

It’s certainly true that the firing mechanism should not have been so close to the loading area, but I don’t understand how the toy being “shaped… very similar to a penis… almost beckons small children to put the toy in their mouth.” Were penises that readily available when we were kids, just dangling from crotches like bananas on a tree? And, if so, were we encouraged to put them in our mouths?

The bottom line: Even though I had many hours of fun shooting these missiles around, they were a terrible idea and should never have been allowed.

(First image source: Big Ole Photos)

8 Responses to “Mattel’s ‘Missile Toy’ Recall, 1979”

  1. 1 Ed February 13, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    I had a Viper and a Raider and a brain, I never shot one down my throat and if I did my mom or dad would have smacked my ass. Also my family refused this recall, my mom said: “You should be smart enough not to hurt yourself with a stupid toy and you already have enough Hot Wheels”.

    • 2 Frank July 5, 2017 at 1:10 am

      Hey Ed – my sentiments exactly. Besides, were parents that stupid in the 70’s to give their 4-year old kids tiny parts to play with like that?
      The parents of these kids need to take some, if not most, of the responsibility here.

  2. 3 Js January 2, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    What pedo wrote that typed section re:penis?

    • 4 Frank July 5, 2017 at 1:12 am

      Wow, I had to look around on the internet to find some corroborating accounts of this documented claim. Un-fucking-believable. It’s hard to believe some exec or spokesmouth somewhere actually went on record with this pedo crap. I’m stunned.

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