Pulling up to the drive-thru now is always a thrill, but it's never quite as exciting as when you were a kid. Back then, driving up to the window meant you were getting a sweet new toy. Sure, you'd lose it after a month or get it confiscated for driving your parents crazy with it, but for those 30 days, it was the coolest thing in the world. So let's take this Flashback Friday to look back on some of the sweetest toys to ever come out of a Kid's Meal bag for free* (* = with the purchase of a nutritious value meal) instead of us having to buy them like grown-up chumps.
1. McDonald's Robot Transformer Changeables - 1989
Jumping on the robots-in-disguise train, McDonald's created their own super crew of mild-mannered foodstuffs that transform into robots that can save the world. The only member of the team missing was you, the mild-mannered kid with the dexterity to change their fast food forms into powerful bringers of justice - because robot suits do not come with thumbs.
PS: If you have any of these Changeables hanging around, you could try to sell them. One lucky changemaster was able to sell their's for $50.
2. The McDonald's Menu Record - 1988
Back when just about everyone had a record player, McDonald's decided they'd put out a tune of their own: Enter the $1,000,000 Menu Song". The lyrics were all the items on the McDonald's menu and the song invited you to try to memorize the whole thing, much to your parents' delight, I'm sure. Each record ended when the singers, inevitably, flubbed some of the words and if you had one of those records, you didn't win $1,000,000.
Out of 80,000,000 records sold, only Charlene Price of Virginia got the prize money. But we all still have the lyrics in our heads forever to remember the record by.
3. Fraggle Rock Veggie Racers - 1988
If you were a kid in the '80s, you were a fan of Fraggle Rock; and if you were a kid in the '80s in the drive-thru at McDonald's, you were a fan of the Fraggle Rock Happy Meal that came with themed meal boxes and character race cars.
4. McDonald Labs' Microscope - 1976
Don't think that McDonald's was only concerned with selling toys that reminded kids of their favorite TV shows. In '76, the fast food chain decided to inspire inquiring kiddie minds by giving them microscopes. While not exactly the most useful microscope (you could not analyze burger patty structure with these), the toy still came in handy when you were pretending to do experiments in your room while wearing your Dad's bathrobe as a lab coat.
5. McNugget Buddies - 1989
If you're anything like me, you'd do anything to take chicken nuggets with you wherever you go; and back in the magical '80s, you totally could! You could dress them up; send them to work - they were the '80s' modern, independent fast food treats! The job thing might be where I draw the line, though - I can't own a toy that went through more years of schooling than me.
6. Little Golden Books - 1982
While in retrospect it feels like Little Golden Books were only put into Happy Meals because parents were tired of stepping on pointy, squeaky toys, I was always grateful to McDonald's for giving me dinner and a show, via Little Golden literature. The books riveted young readers with the adventures of the The Poky Little Puppy; and captivated them with the socioeconomic implications of the Country Mouse and City Mouse.
Or you know, they kept us quiet in the McDonald's dining room long enough for our parents to hear themselves think - either way, everyone won with Little Golden Books.
7. McDonald's Restaurant by Life-Like Buildems - 1969
When McDonald's first started selling toys they figured, "Kids like McDonald's, right? Maybe they'd want to take McDonald's home with them?" Enter the Buildems "McDonald's Restaurant" set. But the toy ended up being more than just a recreational item. Kids could practice valuable skills such as being the foreman of a McDonald's construction site. Or they could work on people skills as the pretend manager of their own McDonald's franchise...
Come to think of it...this set seems a lot more like a crowd sourcing campaign for future McDonald's employees than an innocent fast food toy...
8. Space Jam Plushes - 1996
In one of the greatest collaborations of all time, McDonald's and Space Jam came together to bring us the coolest stuffed versions of the coolest basketball team in the universe (Sorry, Monstars). And the greatness of the film, and these plushes, continue to live on forever, especially for the one plush collector who got $50 for his collection of 6. Toon Squad for life.
9. McDonald's Space Rescue Toys - 1995
The awesomeness of McDonald's toys didn't stop at our planet. In '95, the chain introduced the Space Rescue line of Happy Meal Toys, bringing fast-food toys to a whole different level of high-tech. The set featured a Lunar Grabber, Astro Viewer, and Space Slate. They might look like just a claw grabber, a kaleidoscope, and a notepad, but they aren't.
They're tools of space travel.
What's one of your favorite throwback fast food meal toys? Share them with us on our Facebook page, @TheListShowTV.
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