The 5 Most WTF McDonald’s Toys Ever
Love ’em or hate ’em, McDonald’s is a fast food franchise that has warmed the hearts of many a child with the promises of shortbread cookies, a toy in every happy meal, and chronic constipation. From the inception of the Happy Meal in the late 1970’s McDonald’s has included a toy or other trinket in every single kid’s meal sold at their franchise. Beginning first as a series of various market tests the Happy Meal soon became a franchise staple and in present day still continues on as strong as ever. McDonald’s set the bar for kid’s meals at any franchise and now Burger King, Wendy’s, Jack In The Box, and everybody else has to keep up — and usually with shittier franchises too thanks to McDonald’s taking the obvious choices like Hot Wheels and Beanie Babies. Burger King generally ends up with whatever trash Viacom is hawking (Spongebob Squarepants) and Wendy’s… well, if “you know when it’s real” then you’ll also know when you get a crap toy in your kid’s meal. The only decent thing Wendy’s ever had was their set of Spyro the Dragon toys. And maybe that Six Flags Mr. Six figurine.
McDonald’s memorabilia is something that is insanely collectible and at one point in time was among the most valuable collections one could have. Of course with the economy in shambles one of the first markets to go is always the collector’s market so those Beanie Babies toys you had in the late nineties that were once worth $50 a piece are worth approximately $1 today. Still, back when “the gettin’ was good” there were entire publications devoted to collectors of McDonald’s toys and other odds and ends. The presumably husband-wife team of Terry and Joyce Losonsky (watch them email me once they see this and say “we’re brother and sister asshole!”) set out to create the definitive compendium of information on McDonaldLand memorabilia. The results of their labor and borderline hoarding disorder was a series of books and price guides for everything under the sun. Unfortunately the most recent incarnation of said book only covers toys from the 1970’s to 1995 so a lot of the “big” collections from McDonald’s history, namely the aforementioned Beanie Babies and of course the 101 Dalmatians collection of 101 different toys, are absent from the publication.
Despite the lack of definite humor content, however, I picked up a copy of their collector’s book dirt cheap since a price guide from 15 years ago is completely worthless and have set out to find as much stuff to make fun of as I possibly can. Thanks to all of the wonderfully organized and professional quality pictures in the book (that wasn’t a sarcastic joke, the book is laid out quite nicely) I was presented with more humor fodder than I knew what to do with. Surely there’s at least 4 or 5 articles worth of content here, but in the meantime here’s the five most “what the fuck” McDonald’s Happy Meal toys ever.
Improper printing/cutting aside, this “tickle feather” is quite possibly the most sexually inappropriate Happy Meal toy in existence. If the typeface didn’t give it away, the Tickle Feather is a byproduct of the 1970’s, a period of time when Ashton Kutcher was a television star. Seeing as how I wasn’t alive in the 1970’s I can’t vouch for statements like “it was a more innocent time where you could tickle someone with a foam feather and not be seen as a sexual deviant” so I will simply assume that in the late 70’s it was in fact appropriate to tickle people with a foam feather and that it was appropriate for children to receive such toys in a kid’s meal. In the early days of the Happy Meal the McDonald’s company was looking for inexpensive ways to produce “toys” to include in their kid’s meals. Since much of the Chinese mass-production technology we have today (read: sweatshop labor) didn’t exist in the 1970’s a lot of the company’s early toys were restricted to things like little rubber figurines and foam cut outs and against all better judgment I cannot come up with any plausible scenario where playing with a foam feather or a foam Grimace would be deemed “fun”.
I promise I’m not messing with you here and showing you a bunch of photographs out of an evidence book or a Spencer Gifts catalog, yes that is a 1.4 oz airplane-friendly box of Colgate toothpaste, and yes it was given away as a Happy Meal “toy”. The “M” logo on both the toothpaste and Tickle Feather is proof enough that I’m not lying to you. No toothbrush, just the toothpaste and that’s all; McDonald’s assumed their customers would provide their own tools to use this toy. Half the fun of being a kid and enjoying a Happy Meal is opening the toy first and playing with it (or meticulously breaking it) while you eat your burger and fries. You can’t play with toothpaste in any sense of the word unless you want to be kicked out of the restaurant for smearing it all over the table or backhanded by your father for putting it in his Big Mac when he wasn’t looking. Giving somebody toothpaste is one of many nonverbal cues that can be misinterpreted; when you give or offer someone a breathmint you’re essentially telling that person their breath smells like a garbage dump that someone burned leprosy victims in, likewise when you offer someone toothpaste you’re basically telling them they look British and that their smile won’t simply break a mirror, it will send it back in time.
Remember what I said about being a kid and having fun with your Happy Meal toy? These markers (actually, just marker singular) echo that sentiment. You cannot play with a marker, it’s not a toy. It’s a drawing utensil. The only thing you can do with a marker save for shoving it up your ass is draw a picture with it or if you had a bunch of them you could connect them end to end and make a sword that breaks the second you pick it up. You can kiss your dreams of ninjitsu goodbye, though, because this particular Happy Meal promotion only gave you one marker, that’s it. The picture shows three but that’s just an example of the various kinds that were offered (thin, orange and green apple). Now, I understand when the Happy Meal idea was just beginning to come into fruition that there was a scramble for affordable and frugal ways to include toys but what the fuck is this, seriously? One marker of a random color? The only thing this would use useful for is solving the 3-word word search puzzle on the side of the Happy Meal box and for drawing penises on the Ronald McDonald trayliner; and furthermore what if you were the unlucky sap that got stuck with a yellow marker? Good luck trying to do anything except highlight words and coloring on other people’s french fries.
Perhaps if these postcards weren’t offered several years after the Crayola markers your single marker would actually be useful but sadly these postcards were their own promotion and are equally as retarded and also bend the definition of “toy”. Those who ate at a McDonald’s more than once in the 1980’s and 1990’s will know that “McDonald Land” is made up of several little places, LetterLand being one of them (and for those of you who remember MC Kids on the NES, PuzzleLand). Apparently LetterLand is also where Mayor McCheese decided to establish the post office because these magical little papers came straight from the LetterLand post office and into your Happy Meal! Once you’ve spent the money to eat your kid’s meal you can then go ahead and buy a stamp to slap on this card because this is the only McDonald’s toy in the history of the company that required you to spend more money on it to get it to function correctly. What the hell is the point of giving someone postcards at a McDonald’s anyway? Are you going to send a postcard to your grandmother telling her how great your kid’s meal was? A stationary set isn’t a toy, it’s a stationery set, that’s why there’s already a word to describe it. Postcards are for people on vacation and people who want to abuse the “No Purchase Necessary” clause in every contest that has ever existed; kids — the target demographic of a Happy Meal — have about as much use for a set of postcards as they do for a single marker: none.
Finally! Here’s a toy, I think. I have no idea what this is except for the fact that the price guide calls it a “Mystical Scrambler” and offers no incentive as to what the hell it actually does. I presume it scrambles things, mystically too I might add, but just what? At first glance it looks like someone just ripped the buttons off of a VCR and called it a day but then I realized that the triangle and circle aren’t printed on the plastic, they’re holes cut into the pieces. Is it a set of funny binoculars? Is it a stupid magic trick akin to the “disappearing quarter” box that everyone gets bored of half way through the trick? The nondescript black box connected to the pieces makes no effort to clarify anything – do the pieces go in it? Do they sit on top of it? Do they spin? The more I look at this the more I want one because I have a distinct feeling if you used it in conjunction with a Ouija board that you’d not only be able to summon a spirit, but you’d be able to play Crossfire with them.