Nothing else can bring kids to a McDonalds restaurant than the promise of a Happy Meal toy. The McDonalds Happy Meal toys were first introduced in June of 1979 and marked a new era for McDonalds stores everywhere. These goodies that come with meals meant for kids became a favorite menu item everywhere, with both parents and children waiting in anticipation what new toys Ronald would have for them.
A Happy History
Around the mid-70s, the couple running the McDonalds stores in Guatemala created the Ronald Menu, which included a burger, a small sundae and a small order of fries to make it easier for mothers to feed their kids. The idea caught the attention of the McDonalds corporate office who asked Bob Bernstein of Bernstein-Rein Advertising to apply the concept to the rest of the McDonalds stores. This signaled the birth of the Happy Meal with the national launch done in 1979.
The Happiest Toys in a Box
McDonalds Happy Meal toys do not only represent McDonalds characters but are often part of a tie-in with other companies as well. Some of the toys represent characters from a current movie, a TV show, or a popular toy line. Here are some of the coolest McDonalds Happy Meal toys released in the past:
Star Trek: The Motion Picture
The first official Happy Meal ever released, it was only fitting that it was a promotional tie-in with one of the most successful franchises of all time. The series included Star Trek rings, the Star Trek Starfleet game, Star Trek double glitter iron-on sheets, Star Trek bracelets, and the Star Trek video communicator. What made this interesting was not the McDonalds Happy Meal toys that came with each package. Majority of the creative effort actually went to the Happy Meal box with each box featuring games and comics related to Star Trek.
Mighty Duck Pucks
Although the Happy Meal toys represented the cartoon series instead of the more popular movie franchise, these pucks still gained popularity. Released in 1997, these toys became part of every hockey-loving kid’s collection. The series comes in 4 different varieties.
Changeables / McRobots
The idea of food transforming into robots is an awesome thought for any kid, which made the Changeables, also tagged as the McRobots, one of the most popular in the history of McDonalds Happy Meal toys. In fact, it became so popular that there were three series all in all!
The first series was released in 1987. It featured miniature versions of the Big Mac, a large pack of fries, the McNuggets box, a Milk Shake, an Egg McMuffin and a Quarter Pounder. All six of them can be transformed into toy robots. The series also included an Under-3 / U-3 toy, the Pals Changeable Cube.
With the huge success of the first series, McDonalds decided to launch another set of Changeables. The second series was released in 1989. This time each toy was given its own name. Two of the toys in this series are re-colors of Series 1 toys, the Big Mac aka Macro Mac, and the Large Fries aka Fry Force. Other toys in the series were Krypto Cup (small soft drink), Fry Bot (small fries), Robo-Cakes (hot cakes), Gallacta Pounder (Quarter Pounder box), C2 (cheeseburger) and Turbo Cone (ice cream). Once again, this series included the Pals Changeable Cube as a U-3 toy.
Series 3 was released in 1990, this time having the miniature food change into different dinosaurs. Included in the series are Happy Meal-O-Don (Happy Meal box), McDino Cone (ice cream), Hot Cakes-O-Dactyl (hotcakes box), Fry-ceratops (large fries), Big Mac-O-Saurus Rex (Big Mac), Tri-Shake-atops (milkshake), McNuggets-O-Saurus (McNuggets box) and Quarter Pounder with Cheese-O-Saur (Quarter Pounder). The Under 3 toys included in the series were the Bronto Cheeseburger and the Small Fry-cerotops.
The McNugget Buddies
What could be cooler than giving the McNuggets you eat their own personality? This was probably what the McDonalds creative team was thinking when they launched the McNugget Buddies. The series was launched in 1988 with 10 pieces of nuggets each having their own identity. These ten were introduced as Snorkel, Volley, Cowpoke, Corny, Drummer, Sparky, First Class, Rocker, Sarge and Cowpoke.
The McNugget Buddies were brought back to life when a Halloween edition was launched in 1993. The characters included in this series were McBoo, Witchie, Monster, McNuggla, Mummie and Pumpkin.
In 1996, the third in the McNugget Buddies series was released. This included Monster, Ronald clown, Spider, Dragon, Princess and Punk Rockstar.
All three series of McNugget Buddies left so much hype that it is still seen as part of the most memorable Happy Meals ever released.
The Teenie Beanies did not only leave kids ecstatic at every visit to McDonalds, but it made adults just as impatient to collect each and every last one in the series. The Teenie Beanies are smaller versions of the popular Beanie Babies.
The first series was launched in 1997. This included Patti the Platypus, Chops the Lamb, Pinky the Flamingo, Chocolate the Moose, Speedy the Turtle, Goldie the Goldfish, Seamore the Seal, Quacks the Duck, Snort the Bull, and Lizz the Lizard.
The second series was released in 1998. Included in the series were Doby the Doberman, Bongo the Monkey, Twigs the Giraffe, Inch the Worm, Pinchers the Lobster, Happy the Hippo, Might the Labradoodle, Mel the Koala, Scoop the Pelican, Bones the Dog, Jesse the Gorilla, Chip the Cat, Waddle the Penguin and Peanut the Elephant.
In 1999, the third series was released. The regular series included Iggy the Iguana, Freckles the Leopard, Chip the Cat, Rocket the Blue Jay, Antsy the Anteater, Smoochy the Frog, Stretchy the Ostrich, Spunky the Cocker Spaniel, Julius the Clown, Strut the Rooster, Nuts the Squirrel, Claude the Crab, Mortimer the Taste Bud and Nook the Husky. A special series was also included featuring four “International Bears”. These were Erin the Bear representing Ireland, Britannia the Bear representing the UK, Maple the Bear representing Canada and Glory the Bear representing the USA.
The year 2000 saw a wider collection for Teenie Beanies. 32 Teenie Beanies were sold all in all, with 29 released in spring and the remaining three sold in the fall. The toys were classified into different groups: Pet Pals, Garden Bunch, At the Zoo, Under the Sea, Top Secret, Super Stars: Dinosaur Trio, International Bears (this time representing Mexico, Germany, and another one for the USA), Legends, and two bears that marked two special days: Millenium the Bear for McHappy Day and The End the Bear for the end of the season. Released in the fall of 2000 was the USA Trio.
The 2004 series featured Beanie Babies that represented the different McDonalds characters.
The 2009 series featured 37 toys all in all, with 30 of them styled to celebrate 30 years of Happy Meal toys.