Jarts. Were they so bad?
Memories of Memorial Days past and future Fourth of Julys.
Sparklers, barbeque, family and backyards. The games were classic: Badminton, Croquet, Horseshoes, Bocci ball and....
My brother reminded me over the weekend, that we whined to our Dad about how we had nothing to do and we were sooooooo bored. Remember no cable or cell phones? Hell, this was probably just pre-Atari; we had to be bored. What could we have even been doing?!
We convinced him. He took us to Sears and picked up some nice outdoor activities. It was a 3-pack combo game set. Badminton, Volley Ball and JARTS.
Maybe my Dad knew exactly what he was doing. We were pretty whiny.
Jarts have become known as one of the big, "OMG I can't believe anyone thought this was a good idea" type of toys. Or how did we survive this?
Are Jarts as scary and dangerous as we've been told?
Let's put all the pieces together.
Created in 1950's or 1960's. I couldn't find a definitive year, it started with some guys who wanted to take their dart came outside the bar. But it didn't gain in popularity until the late 1970's.
Manufactured by Regent, Franklin, even Sears had a version, as well as Crown and Hasbro.
Specs - Basically, each aerodynamic weighted missile came with a fin, 3 wings to help hit your target and a heavy 1 3/4 blunt metal tip. Each of these sets contained four darts each, about 12 inches long. The name of the game was accuracy, stick the jart into the center of the target. To insure sticking the landing you needed it to come straight down. The instructions showed throwing them with a rainbow arc.
All of this, in the middle of your friends and family filled backyard.
Aliases - Yard Darts, Jarts Missile Game, Javelin Darts, Slider Jarts, Rocket Lawn Dart.
It turns out, people were getting hit with Jarts all the time. And complaining about it. No one was paying any attention.
Then, a Dad from Riverside, Ca, David Snow, lost his young daughter to a Jarts Missile accident in 1987. It came from the backyard, sailing all the way over the house to the front and hit her with an unbelievable 23,000 lbs of pressure and killing her. This heartbroken and frustrated Father decided to fight and not stop until lawn darts were taken off the market. He held his ground and would not give up until they were gone.
Jarts had been banned once before due to injuries. The companies that produced them offered the courts a compromise: They would come with a warning label and not be marketed to children ('cause kids don't think Jarts look fun no matter what). Courts said, cool, sounds like fun. They went back on the market.
David Snow (heart broken Father) was able to get them to relook at the statistics and it was telling.
"Over a period of eight years, lawn darts had sent 6,100 people to the emergency room. 81% of those cases involved children 15 or younger, and half of those were 10 or younger. The majority of injuries were to the head, face, eyes or ears, and many had led to permanent injury or disability."
So no......they weren't good. They were banned permanently in 1988. Not recalled, just banned. They are still found on the secondary market.
I was hoping to find what seems the ultimate vintage party game wasn't as dangerous as we thought. Wrong, it is. So if you find that set at a garage sale and decide it's the 80's again, be careful!
Did you have Jarts when you were a kid? Anyone ever get hurt at your family picnic? Tell me about it in the comments.
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