Killer toys

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For other uses, see Toy safety.

Killer toys are fictional characters, usually based on toys, dolls or puppets that have been possessed by demons, monsters, ghosts, supernatural creatures, dark magic or in the case of Small Soldiers, military technology. In fiction, Killer toys are children's toys that come to life to commit violent acts.

Concept of killer toys[edit]

The concept of toys coming to life is a common and historical concept in children's literature,[1] and the idea has been adapted into numerous horror films and other horror fiction. The 1978 film Magic represents a key inspiration for subsequent films, while the subgenre's best-known films are the Child's Play film series.[2][3]

Due to their association with childhood innocence and their resemblance to human beings, dolls and puppets have long been the subject of horror stories and modern tastes have not forgotten such stories, allowing the evil puppet/doll subgenre of villainy to survive as a strong contender in the world of horror and the supernatural. An early exemplar of the trope is the Ventriloquist's dummy episode of Dead of Night, starring Michael Redgrave as the vent, and John Maguire as the dummy. Killer toys are common trope in television and film, whereby a child's dolls and toys is in someway capable of magic, often causing harm to adults who are seen as in some way against the doll's owner, usually a child. The Killer toys is based on pediophobia, pupaphobia and automatonophobia, the fear of dolls, toys, puppets or ventriloquist's dummies.

List of films[edit]

The films that feature the Killer Toys are listed in alphabetical order:

Film Year Ref.
Asylum 1972 [4]
Barbara 1974 [4]
Blood Dolls 1999 [5]
Bride of Chucky 1998 [6]
Child's Play 1988 [6]
Child's Play 2 1990 [6]
Child's Play 3 1991 [6]
Curse of Chucky 2013 [6]
Dead of Night 1945 [4]
Dead Silence 2007 [4]
Demonic Toys 1992 [7]
Dollman vs. Demonic Toys 1993 [8]
Dolls 1987 [6]
Dolly Dearest 1991 [8]
From Beyond the Grave 1974 [4]
Great Gabbo, TheThe Great Gabbo 1929 [4]
House of Evil 1968 [9]
Magic 1978 [4]
Puppet Master 1989 [4]
Seed of Chucky 2004 [6]
Small Soldiers 1998 [10]

In television[edit]

  • The theme of evil toys has also been used in Doctor Who in the serial "The Celestial Toymaker".[11][12][13]
  • An evil doll was used in several episodes of both the 1959 and 2002 versions of The Twilight Zone
  • In the Mega Man episode "Crime of the Century," Dr. Wily reprograms a bunch of dolls and other toys to perform robberies all over the city. However, it's all just a diversion so Wily can get his hands on something much more valuable: a giant black pearl.
  • Ventriloquist dummies and dolls are also portrayed as evil in the works of R.L. Stine.
    • The Goosebumps books and TV series had the "Night of the Living Dummy" stories which featured a sentient ventriloquist dummy named Slappy.
    • R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour featured Lilly D. in the episodes "Really You" Pt. 1 and 2 and "The Return of Lilly D."
  • In the Duel Masters franchise, the concept of the killer toys are featured in the Death Puppets of the Darkness Civilization.
  • In Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters (a re-imaging version of the Duel Masters franchise), the Evil Toys were renamed from the Death Puppets.
  • The Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror III" segment, "Clown Without Pity", features a Krusty doll that tries to kill Homer. The segment borrows elements from the Twilight Zone episode "Living Doll", the Child's Play films, Gremlins, the 1975 TV film Trilogy of Terror segment "Amelia" about a killer Zuni fetish doll as well as its 1996 cinematic sequel Trilogy of Terror II segment "He Who Kills", which are both in turn adaptations of Richard Matheson's 1969 short story, "Prey". The segment also borrows elements from Cape Fear. In a different episode, "The Ziff Who Came to Dinner", a possessed killer doll named "Baby Button Eyes" appears in a horror film, The Re-Deadening (a parody of Dolly Dearest). The doll is most likely based on the real-life appearance of "Annabelle", a possessed Raggedy Ann doll.
  • In Grojband episode, No Strings Attached, Trina Riffin suffers from pupaphobia after she had wicked visions of puppets when she was a child.
  • In the What's New, Scooby Doo? episode Toy Scary Boo, the gang investigate a store with living toys who are taking it over.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Media Myths, Children's Nightmares, "Stories of toys that come to life can of course be found throughout the history of children's literature..." 
  2. ^ Buckingham, David (1996). Moving Images: Understanding Children's Emotional Responses to Television. Manchester University Press. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-7190-4595-0. 
  3. ^ Lennard, Dominic W. All fun and games…: children's culture in the horror film, from Deep Red (1975) to Child's Play (1988), Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, Vol. 26, No. 1, pp. 133-142 (2012)
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Landis, John (2011). "Killer Dolls". Monsters in the Movies. DK Adults. pp. 236–237. ISBN 978-0-7566-8370-2. 
  5. ^ Blood Dolls at the IMDb Retrieved 25.April 2014
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Berra, John, ed. (2010). Directory of World Cinema: American Independent. Intellect Ltd. p. 34. ISBN 978-1-84150-368-4. 
  7. ^ Telotte, J.P. The Mouse Machine: Disney and Technology, p. 172 (2008)
  8. ^ a b Weldon, Michael (1996). The Psychotronic Video Guide To Film. St. Martin's Griffin. p. 169. ISBN 978-0-312-13149-4. 
  9. ^ Maltin, Leonard (2009). Leonard Maltin's 2010 Movie Guide. Plume. ISBN 978-0-452-29557-5. 
  10. ^ Bart, Peter (2000). The Gross: The Hits, The Flops: The Summer That Ate Hollywood. St. Martin's Griffin. p. 136. ISBN 978-0-312-25391-2. 
  11. ^ Dodo Chaplet / Jackie Lane. "Dr Who 10th Anniversary Special". Radio Times. 1973. 
  12. ^ The Celestial Toymaker reviews at The Doctor Who Ratings Guide
  13. ^ The Celestial Toymaker reviews at Outpost Gallifrey