About two weeks ago my wife and I were over at my brother John's house hanging out. He knows I'm a big garage sale/thrift store hunter and he told me I should keep my eyes peeled for lawn darts. He said they no longer made them any more and they were worth a small fortune if you could get your hands on a set.
When I was a kid in the 80s it seemed like every family had a set of these in their garage, right along with badminton and a slip-and-slide. We played it at many a family barbecue.
It's funny how when someone mentions something you haven't thought about in years, it always seems like you run into it soon after. That's exactly what happened in this case.
I had just finished purchasing some great finds at a garage sale I stopped by last Friday. I was already stoked because I found one of those creepy motorized monkeys that squeaks and bangs the cymbals together and I was headed back down the driveway to my car when I almost tripped over a cardboard box. Looking down I was surprised to find it was an unopened set of lawn darts still in the original box! I was hoping the owners were unaware of it's value as I headed back to purchase the set. It was priced at $3.00 and as I handed the woman the money she commented to the person next to her, "Aren't these illegal?"
As soon as I got home with my find I hopped on the internet to get the dirt...
Lawn darts (also called Jarts or yard darts) is a lawn game for two players or teams. A lawn dart set usually includes four large darts and two targets. The game play and objective are similar to both horseshoes and darts. The darts are similar to the ancient Roman plumbata. They are typically 12 inches (30 cm) long with a weighted metal or plastic tip on one end and three plastic fins on a rod at the other end. The darts are intended to be tossed underhand toward a horizontal ground target, where the weighted end hits first and sticks into the ground. The target is typically a plastic ring, and landing anywhere within the ring scores a point. (Wikipedia)
Ronald Reagan and the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) banned lawn darts from sale in the United States on December 19, 1988 for good reason. According to another site, an estimated 6,100 people have been treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries involving lawn darts from 1978 through present. At least 80 percent of the victims were younger than 15 years old, and more than 50 percent were ten years old or younger. More than half of the victims had injuries to the skull, eye, ear or face. Many children have lost the use of an eye from this "toy". Investigations indicated that severe injuries included cranial punctures, facial lacerations and fractures to skull. Although victims were often bystanders, in many cases those playing the game were children.
Lawn darts are listed on the top 10 list of the most dangerous or recalled toys in history. It is illegal to manufacture or sell them even as antiques on sites like Ebay. This is the reason they have such value. Of course most of the original sets were opened and because of the multi-part assembly which includes metal rods and plastic fins, like any dart they often broke and required reordering of parts. There are half-a-dozen websites that legally the darts as "parts" but it costs around $170.00 to assemble a set this way.
An unopened set still in the box, depending on the brand, is valued at $95.00-$120.00 to collectors. The only problem is it's still illegal to sell them.
I figured they would be a great early gift for my brother's September birthday. Not to bad for $3.00. When I gave them to him later that night he considered just tucking them away or maybe sell the parts. We agreed before I left that honestly we'll probably be playing with them the next time I come over.
It's funny how we never really considered the danger of the game as kids. Not only that but how moronic it was to invent and sell them in the first place. The boxes were all covered with these disturbing warning labels.
Maybe back in the day we should have took a closer look at the box?
Next time someone asks me about the hole shaped scar on my head, I'll have a brand new story!
You're probably wondering what "really" happened to my head, and I know I've been accused in the past about fibbing about my scars. So here's what really happened...
There were two bears right in front of me... a ferocious pair of lions right on my heels... a unicorn with a big pointy horn on my left... and then I fell off the carousel. End of story.