Controversy in Nerd-dom

Ocala Star Banner - Feb 18, 1976
Ocala Star Banner – Feb 18, 1976

Toys, like pretty much everything available to the public, have been mired in controversy for a very long time. Sometimes the reasons can be legitimate but more often it is the case of a very loud minority trying to ruin things for a very silent majority. Either way, after enough time has passed we can look back on some of the silliest things that have taken the blame for deeds much darker than deserved. Remember, these are all for fun but fun can be hard for some people to have.

Spokane Chronicle - Feb 27, 1982
Spokane Chronicle – Feb 27, 1982

Dungeons and Dragons took a heavy amount of bad vibes from the public throughout the 80’s. In this way D&D was the precursor to modern violent video games such as Grand Theft Auto. Outraged groups wanted to place blame on D&D for everything from murders to opening the door for youths to find Satan. All nerds wanted was to play.

Milwaukee Sentinel - Dec 8, 1990
Milwaukee Sentinel – Dec 8, 1990

Steve The Tramp has long been a part of Dick Tracy Lore but with the character’s inclusion in the 1990 film starring Warren Beatty there was the accompanying action figure from Playmates Toys. The packaging described The Tramp as an ignorant bum who was stinking up the sewers. The vocal minority was outraged and felt the Tramp was in some way making fun of the homeless. Playmates made an insane number of toys based around being gross and out of all of those somehow it was The Tramp that cause all the trouble. I’m sure it didn’t help that he had a little kid do his dirty work and that was summed up by a very bad choice of words on the toy’s cardback saying he would “use and abuse any young helpless prey…”.

Pittsburgh Press - June 17, 1982
Pittsburgh Press – June 17, 1982

The video game ban of Marshfield, Mass seems like it would be a spin-off of Footloose but it’s the real deal. The townsfolk must have been really brainwashed and with quotes like “The proliferation of these games in town has created a honky-tonk atmosphere.” you just know it has to be real. You can’t possibly make this stuff up. Sadly and strangely the ban was only lifted last year! What kind of devil could these people possibly have imagined Pac-Man to be?

Free Lance-Star - Oct 21, 1989
Free Lance-Star – Oct 21, 1989

Poor Freddy Krueger had a rough time catching a break for a while. Sure, he was a psychotic child killer but somehow he became uber-cool with kids. I think maybe it was the mystique of this scary guy from movies that we weren’t allowed to see. Whatever the reason, Matchbox knew the world needed a talking Freddy doll but according to some people the world wasn’t ready. The doll was produced but due to the backlash it received it was short lived. Nowadays we take toys from A Nightmare on Elm Street for granted, we even have a toy of the NES game version of Freddy. I wonder what the Rev Wildmon thinks about toys now.


Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg in fun things that turned out to be controversial. What are some of your favorites?
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