Top 10 Saddest McDonald’s Happy Meal Toys Ever

Top 10 Saddest McDonald’s Happy Meal Toys Ever

November 9, 2019 100 By William Morgan


Having your parents buy you a Happy Meal at
McDonald’s was easily one of the best things
when you were a kid. Being able to open that
box and see what toy was inside was just like
Christmas morning. Happy Meals have existed
at the iconic fast food joint since 1979 and
have been making kids happy ever since. The
Happy Meal toys are sometimes a collaboration
with another industry (movie based toys for
example), or sometimes just an original McDonald’s
creation. The selection of toys is always
changing and some are a hit among kids while
others are well, not so great. Here are the
top 10 saddest McDonald’s Happy Meal toys
ever sold.
McDonald’s Halloween Pails
Kids love Halloween. Being able to dress up
as someone or something you’re not is exciting,
and the best part of it all is collecting
a bunch of free candy. McDonald’s caught
on to this and realized that it would easily
be able to capitalize on a holiday as popular
among children as Halloween is. Except I’m
not sure it really understood which part of
Halloween kids actually love, because the
restaurant’s idea of a cool, fun for kids
Happy Meal toy was a series of buckets. These
pails have been released as a McDonald’s
toy multiple times since the 1980s, and their
designs commonly include images of witches,
ghosts, and carved pumpkins. The idea behind
the pails was for kids to use them to put
their candy in while they were trick or treating,
and sure, this sounds like a good idea but
is it really something that kids would be
excited for? These buckets were a bit different
from your traditional Happy Meal because instead
of coming inside the red box, the buckets
were the container holding your food. Because
of this, many kids were lead to believe that
there would be a toy inside the bucket. Imagine
their disappointment when they were told that
no, there’s no action figure or stuffed
animal today, you just get a pail.
Ronald McDonald Sunglasses
When McDonald’s isn’t partnering up with
a toy company, or the newest kids movie blockbuster,
it needs to come up with its own ideas for
Happy Meal toys. More often than not, the
franchise chooses to promote itself by selling
toys that feature their beloved characters.
Ronald McDonald is the brand’s most recognizable
character and the one that gets featured on
the most products. Unfortunately, the more
products something’s on, the higher the
chance of getting featured on something awful.
In this case, that product was a pair of Ronald
McDonald themed sunglasses. These sunglasses
were released multiple times throughout the
years for McDonaldland promotions, the land
full of characters that McDonald’s used
as a marketing tool from 1971 until 2003.
These sunglasses were ugly, to say the least.
The rims were the classic McDonald yellow,
and the top part was made of Ronald McDonald
spread arms, with his smiling face right in
the middle. Not only are these sunglasses
slightly terrifying due to how Ronald McDonald
is grinning, but they also just turn the wearer
into a walking advertisement for the hamburger
franchise. The design of the glasses are in
no way subtle and upon a quick glance it’s
very obvious where they came from. I don’t
even think that the most dedicated customers
would want their children walking around in
these sunglasses.
Mickey D’s Step-Its
Everyone can agree that it’s important for
kids to be active and exercise as it’s essential
to their growth and happiness. Even though
McDonald’s is famous for their unhealthy
food, it decided that it was important to
promote an active lifestyle to kids visiting
its restaurants. They’ve got to find one
way to burn off those chicken nugget calories
after all. So in 2016, McDonald’s decided
to release a step counting wristwatch called
the Step-It. It’s great that a big restaurant
is promoting fitness but there were a few
issues with the toy. A step counter isn’t
exactly a toy that a kid would be excited
to get, especially on a visit to McDonald’s
when they’re definitely not thinking of
health at the moment. And even if a kid did
want to use their new step counter while running,
there were some huge issues with it. The product
was recalled from all McDonald’s locations
after 70 reports came from customers claiming
that the device had left their skin burnt
and blistered. 29 million units in the United
States had to be recalled and customers who
had already received the item were able to
trade it in for something else. Maybe this
incident was a sign that McDonald’s should
stick to remaining as unhealthy as we know
it to be.
Gardening Toys at McDonald’s
Taking care of the planet we live on is extremely
important, and it’s definitely necessary
to teach children this from an early age.
Even McDonald’s knows this, so it decided
to release a line of “Nature Watch Happy
Meals” in 1991 in honour of Earth Day. The
happy meal was different than usual because
it was served in a bag made out of recyclable
materials rather than the usual box. The concept
of the line, which featured a set of various
gardening tools was a great idea for promoting
working outdoors, but the execution was questionable. One
part of the collection was a set of gardening
tools that featured a tiny rake and shovel.
They were cheaply made and too small to actually
be useful, but it was a nice idea. Next was
a little watering can designed to look like
a rolled up hose. This would have been great
for helping parents water their plants if
the can was actually able to hold enough water
to be useful. Then there was a tiny greenhouse
which came with a package of flower seeds.
Miraculously, the flowers were able to grow
inside of it but the plastic dome cover easily
broke, defeating the purpose a greenhouse.
Finally, there was a bird feeder that was
way too small for many birds to be able to
eat from. It’s admirable that McDonald’s
made an effort to get kids to help take care
of the Earth, but it’s less so when the
products sold are ineffective.
McD’s Gendered Spiderman Toys
It’s common knowledge that McDonald’s
has gendered toys. The franchise offers “girl
toys” and “boy toys” that are usually
two completely different things (like Barbies
for girls and cars for boys). This strict
gendering of toys has garnered controversy
among customers so in 2014 McDonald’s decided
to switch things up. For the release of the
movie, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the restaurant
put out a line of Spider-Man based toys and
announced that they would be for both boys
and girls, earning praise. However, when the
line of toys was actually released, it didn’t
take long for customers to realize that the
company had completely missed the mark. Even
though this set of Happy Meal toys was said
to be for both girls and boys, they were still
gendered. The set for boys featured action
figures of Spider-Man, a Spider-Man themed
car, a tin of trading cards, and more, all
in the traditional Spider-Man color palette
of red and blue. The half of the collection
that was meant for girls featured a Spider-Man
themed purse, headbands, and bracelets, along
with a tin filled with heart stickers, all
of which follow a color scheme of pink and
purple. Even though McDonald’s tried to
say that girls can like superheroes too, it
still made the unnecessary divide between
the boys and the girls toys, and made it seem
like girls are only able to like traditionally
feminine things.
E.T Poster at McDonald’s
E.T the Extra-Terrestrial was an extremely
successful movie directed by Steven Spielberg,
released in 1982. At the time of its release,
it became the highest grossing film at the
box office, and won multiple prestigious awards.
And of course, when a film does well, McDonald’s
decides to profit off of it. McDonald’s
decided to hop on the E.T train shortly after
the film’s release and decided to collaborate
with the creators to release an E.T themed
set of happy meal toys. This set of toys did
not live up to the film’s success though,
and are definitely some of the worst Happy
Meal toys ever. The toy released was not a
toy at all, and was actually just a small
poster. 4 variations of the poster were released
and customers were supposed to collect them
all. Each poster portrayed a drawing of a
different scene in the movie with the beloved
extra-terrestrial as the focus. The realization
of getting a poster instead of a toy was already
bad enough for kids of the 80s, but the quality
of the posters was even worse. They were small
and heavily folded, leading to unattractive
wrinkles on the posters and to make matters
worse, they were greasy from sitting in a
box with McDonald’s food. These posters
were a disappointment overall, and it’s
no surprise that they’re making this list.
Ronald McDonald Glove Puppet
Another addition to the list of disappointing
McDonald’s characters themed toys is this
puppet that was released multiple times in
Happy Meals since the 1970s. During this time
the characters of McDonaldland were quite
popular among children so it wasn’t uncommon
for McDonald’s to profit off of them through
turning them into Happy Meal toys. However,
they seemed to be running out of ideas quite
fast, as this Ronald McDonald glove puppet
was definitely not one of the best toys the
restaurant’s ever released. The puppet was
simply a type of white latex glove with a
picture of Ronald McDonald on it to be worn
on the hand. There were no moving parts or
anything even vaguely entertaining, just a
glove. I’m sure some kids could have had
fun with this through the use of their imagination,
but for others the cheaply made glove was
nothing but a disappointment. It’s obvious
that none of McDonald’s Happy Meal toys
are well made, but this one truly shows just
how cheap the company is willing to be in
order to make a profit off of unsuspecting
children. Clearly there was also an extreme
amount of creativity associated with this
toy too, as it’s probably one of the simplest
toys ever released in a Happy Meal collection
throughout the years.
American Idol MP3 Player
The singing competition show American Idol
made its debut in 2002 and quickly gained
a huge following. The show was at its peak
popularity in 2007, and there were millions
of kids around the country watching the show
every week and rooting for their favourite
singers. Another thing that was popular among
kids in 2007 were MP3 players, so McDonald’s
had the genius idea of combining both of these
things to create the American Idol MP3 Player
Happy Meal toy. McDonald’s loves collaborating
with other popular businesses, but in this
case the final product was not a hit. The
toy was shaped like a white iPod with a “screen”
showing the American Idol stage and the show’s
logo on the bottom part. Surprisingly, the
toy actually does play music but of course
there’s a catch. The only song it plays
is the instrumental played between commercials
on American Idol. Fans of the show might have
purchased this toy to hear renditions of songs
covered by contestants on the show, but instead
all they received was a short techno interlude.
Along with disappointing kids, the repetitive
tune must have annoyed parents of kids who
actually enjoyed the toy. Overall, this collaboration
was a disappointment for both kids and their
parents.
Ronald McDonald Mask
Coulrophobia, meaning the fear of clowns,
is a common phobia among people, so why McDonald’s
chooses to use a clown as its main marketing
character is beyond me. Having Ronald McDonald
as the main character of McDonaldland has
made for some pretty interesting marketing
adventures over the years, and Happy Meal
toys featuring the sometimes beloved and sometimes
feared clown are no exception. One of the
creepiest clown related toys McDonald’s
has ever put out is the Ronald McDonald mask,
as part of the Happy Meal in 1974. This mask
was simply a piece of cardboard with the face
of Ronald McDonald drawn on it, and a pretty
terrifying one at that. The mask featured
the clown grinning widely while its seemingly
dead eyes look straight ahead. The whole thing
gives off a very eerie vibe and it seems more
likely that a child would cry out of fear
upon seeing it rather than out of joy. On
top of being slightly frightening, the mask
was cheaply made from nothing but flimsy cardboard
that could easily rip, rather than another
stronger material like plastic. It seems like
the only thing this mask was really good for
was terrorizing anyone who dared glance at
it.
The Goat Who Ate Everything at McDonald’s
We all know that a healthy, balanced diet
is an essential part of a good lifestyle,
and it’s extremely important that children
eat properly as they’re growing up. We also
know that it’s important for kids to practice
their reading skills. But another thing we
know is that McDonald’s is renowned for
being an extremely unhealthy fast food joint.
The majority of the food at McDonald’s is
extremely high in fats, sodium, and overall
calories, and everyone knows that it’s definitely
not diet food. So you can understand the confusion
when in 2013, McDonald’s included a book
about the importance of eating healthy as
its Happy Meal toy. The book is titled “The
Goat Who Ate Everything” and it was written
by John Montgomery. The book tells the story
of a goat who eats whatever he wants until
he realizes that certain foods are better
than you than others. Reviews show that kids
actually really enjoyed the story, but it’s
the irony of the situation that puts this
book on this list. McDonald’s giving kids
a book about why they should eat healthy as
they’re eating one of the unhealthiest fast
food options out there is just laughable.
Of course, kids should be eating healthy but
when it’s McDonald’s telling them to are
they really going to listen?
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