Thursday, October 11, 2012

McDonalds Happy Meal Classics

When I was growing up, McDonald's was always a hot spot.  I know it catches flack for not being healthy, and I understand that, but can we all agree that it tastes pretty damn good?  When I was a kid, I couldn't get enough of McDonald's and it's probably due to their advertising.  Activists who fight against child obesity today have made the classic fast food characters of my day an endangered species.  Now, only Ronald McDonald exists.  The rest of McDonaldland has gone into hiding.  But I remember when McDonald's and Burger King characters were just as prevalent on TV as Spongebob is today.  I even had a McDonaldland video game!  They were such a crucial part of McDonald's business strategy and, really, can ya blame them?  Ronald McDonald lured kids in, he showed them what type of cookies and toys he had, then he ran off with their Parents' money with a big smile on his face.  Talk about a Hamburglar!

That's an old commercial that I don't own.  I found it on YouTube and, apparently, it's from 1995.  I would have been about 7 and I greatly remember those Happy Meal toys!  The toys didn't move, they didn't have any fancy lights or sounds, but they had removable  costumes and that was better than anything I could have imagined.  There was something about putting those characters in costume that made the season seem so much better.  In my mind, I completely changed them from Grimace to a Ghost.  It was all in my mind, but the nostalgia stays with me to this day.

Because I miss those times and the days when Fast Food Cartoon Characters ruled over all Saturday morning commercials, I had to turn to Ebay and see what I could find.  Once I get my mind set on a certain time, I have to do whatever I can to relive those memories.  Luckily, I found a few!

Here's Birdie the early Bird!  She was known for representing the breakfast line at McDonald's, but became more of a fixture as the years went on.  Because I'm a boy, she was never my favorite.  "Pink is for girls!"  I never wanted to find a Birdie toy in my Happy Meal, but when you went as much as I did, it was bound to happen.  But, around Halloween, it didn't matter because it meant a new costume!  I always liked seeing what the characters would come dressed as so, even in this case, I would have been happy to find something new.  Now, at 25, I still would have rathered Grimace or The Hamburglar, but I'll take what I can get when it comes to 18 year old Happy Meal toys!

Here she is!  All decked out in her pumpkin suit!  I like this costume a lot because you can still see her face.  Plus, it's a pretty girly costume.  The last time I saw a boy dress up as a pumpkin, he was either 3 years old or dressed in one of those Creature Reachers.  That's totally different.  So I like how much McDonald's focused on who would wear what costume.  This is the perfect fit for Birdie.  The only thing that would have been better is a cat.  Ya know, since cats eat birds? How ironic would that have been? Hmm.. Stay tuned.

Here we have the Hamburglar.  It's not the one depicted in the video (that one was my favorite back in the day,) but he's still pretty cool.  I think this was released at a later time and his sole purpose was to work as a candy dispenser for kids.  I'm not sure how that would work exactly, but I believe the kids would store their candy (probably came with the Happy Meal) by lowering the Hamburglar's mask.  I guess the point was that his mask would scare any thief's away from stealing the one or two sweetarts you could fit in there.  I like the concept, but the removable costumes were so much better!  Either way, I can't hate on my man The Hamburglar.  He's always been my favorite McDonaldland character.

When you lower the mask, it fits perfectly around his head leaving just enough room for his eyes to peek through.  Let me point out how interesting of a mask this actually is.  The first thing that comes to mind is Freddy Krueger.  The rounded nose, the heavy wrinkles and, of course, The Hamburglar's hat only enhances the illusion.  Something tells me that's what McDonald's was going for in a time where slasher films were still relevant.  But I also see a green goblin.  Not THE Green Goblin from Spideman, but a generic form.  He's hideous, that's for sure.  And the kicker is the fact that his tongue is sticking out with a giant spider crawling up and into his mouth.  If this didn't scare kids from opening the candy dispenser, what would have?  This is a very cool McDonald's toy.  Not one of the best, but definitely a classic.

In the lot I purchased on Ebay, I received four legendary Happy Meal toys and Birdie was included twice.  That's probably why I snagged these for less than $3 shipped.  But in this case, I don't mind it because Birdie is bringing me back to the topic she originally started up above.  Wouldn't it be cool if the crazy minds at McDonald's decided to dress her up like a cat for Halloween?  Well..

 I may be the only one who thinks so, but this is extremely clever!  Obviously, Birdie was intended for young girls.  So there weren't many options to choose from in terms of making Birdie scary AND approachable.  We all know how much little boys love gross things.  That spider on Hamburglar's tongue would have made a little boy's day.  But a little girl?  She would have been disgusted.  I guess some things never change.  But for an adult with too much time on their hands, they can look at the Happy Meal toy and snicker.  Cats eat birds so, in Birdie's mind, this would be extremely scary!  I don't think it was going to keep kids from stealing your candy, but if your friend happens to be a bird, then you're in luck!  The only think that would have been funnier, is if she dressed up as a chicken nugget.  Oh, the irony in McDonaldland.

Last but not least, we have the head honcho himself -- Ronald McDonald.  Let's face it, this guy isn't clowning around.  He is, without a doubt, a world-wide icon!  He's a legendary figure and I don't think there's a kid on Earth who hasn't seen his seducing smile.  Even the hungry kids in Ethiopia have seen him.  They may not have seen any burgers, but they've definitely seen him.  He's everywhere, including my deck for the photo above.

This was one of my favorite McDonald's toys of all time.  When I think back to everything, I remember The Hamburglar, Grimace, and Ronald.  Halloween was such a big deal for me as a kid that this figure would have certainly enhanced my Holidaze tenfold.  The fact that I remember it so well is telling, but the fact that my heart skipped a beat when I saw his picture on Ebay is even more telling.  I'm a giant nerd, but I love Halloween.

 How amazing is his costume?  When Halloween rolls around, Ronald pulls out all the stops and dresses up as.. Frankenstein!!  And not just any old Frankie, but a traditionally green Frankie with BLUE hair!  What maniac at the McDonald's factory decided to paint his hair blue?  A genius, that's who!  It's crazy how much a stationary figure that doesn't make any sounds could do so much for me.  When I was a kid, I would act things out with the McDonaldland figures.  One second Ronald would be a clown, the next he'd be Frankenstein.  He'd scare the rest of the crew until they wound up having a Monster Mash costume party in the end.  I let my imagination do the work and, to this day, I try to uphold that tradition.  There's a time and place to be serious, but Halloween?  Nahh, that's not one of 'em!

Now that I've found a few of the classic Happy Meal figures, I'm interested in finding more.  Hamburglar dressed as Dracula is definitely one that I'd like to find, along with Grimace the Ghost.  I don't seem to remember much more than that, but the memories are vague so they could come back to me as I see them.  We'll see.  But if I do find anymore for a reasonable price, I'll place the order and review them on The Holidaze!  For now, just be Happy....Meal.  So corny.


  1. I remember going nuts for these things as a kid! Great post.

  2. We didn't eat at McDonald's much, so I don't remember these, but we had a few of those Halloween buckets they gave out. I also recall having a pumpkin from there that Grimace popped up out of.

  3. Thanks, Kyle. Me too! Was a great time to be a kid!

    Linny, I vaguely recall the Pumpkin you're talking about. I tried Googling it, but no luck. As for the buckets, they're still released around this time of year. I covered them last year and will be posting this year's shortly.

  4. wow I remember these, my favorite fast food premium ever was the Burger king universal monsters.. but these are a close second

  5. Robbie, I don't remember the BK Universal Monsters, but I know Pizza Hut did a Universal promotion and it always stood out to me. I wanna say 92-93ish, but not sure. Not much comes up on Google, but I'll have to look into those BK premiums!

  6. These are the ones. I believe jack in the box had a similar line. These are from 1997. They came with acessories and glow in the dark stickers. I had them as a kid and I just recived a packaged set in the mail. If you like monsters try to get your hands on a set. You wont be dissapointed


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