The 2010 Toy Fair got me thinking about the many groovy premiums that have been given away throughout the years via various fast food establishments. Sure, they aren’t nearly as fancy as $100+ statues but kids meal toys they are certainly more affordable.
While most are given through those wee servings known as a Happy Meal, Children’s Meal, Kids Meal or a similar moniker, some are purchasable as individual items at specific chains (assuming the owner or manager is nice enough to let you buy them a la carte). Looking through my personal archive, it’s clear that Nintendo has been the most prolific in terms of releasing game-related premiums.
Below is a look at some of the most notable fast food premiums. There are often regional and even international variations I might have missed so, please, let us know about your favorites and the variations you have found.
Wii Toys (Wendy’s, 2007)
Still one of my favorite Wii-themed toy sets because of the varied toys and the pog-flinging WiiMote. The more recent WiiMote Kids Meal Toys (Wendy’s, 2008) were a bit hit-and-miss with some of the lamest (Mario to the Rescue magnet game) and coolest (Chain Comp Launcher) Mario-family toys.
Pac-Man glasses (Arby’s, 1980)
These 12 oz. glasses were originally sold for $0.59 (yep, 59 cents) at Arby’s but you can still find them lurking the crevices of your uncle’s basement bar or the corner of your grandma’s highest shelf. Even better, RetroStatic has the original TV commercial on its site. Funny stuff and perfect for drinking highballs.
Lego Batman (McDonald’s, 2008)
Maybe one of the most cohesive sets of themed game toys, these all look Lego compatible (but are not) and came with game codes for Lego Batman: The Videogame. The set included four figures and four vehicles, each of which shot some type f projectiles which, as all kids know, is truly cool of any kids meal toy. The codes unlocked characters and vehicles which were playable in the game’s Free Play modes, though you could eventually unlock it all by actually playing through the game. Even so, the toys were still uber cool.
Burger King Xbox games (Burger King, 2006)
This trio of titles was perhaps the best cooperative effort between the game industry and a fast food chain (with the possible exception of BK’s free Nintendo DS Wifi access). Originally selling for $3.99 with purchase, Sneak King quickly became the game everyone referenced when talking about the set and another example of how literally creepy that plastic-faced King can be. The other two games were the less memorable, and far less creepy, Big Bumpin’ and PocketBike Racer. The games were rated “Everyone” by the ESRB and were developed by King Games (nice name, eh>) and Blitz Games. OK, technically not a kids meal toys but it was certainly one of most valiant game-related fast food premium efforts to date.
Pokémon premiums (Burger King, 1999)
This series immediately generated a 30% increase in sales for the Burger King restaurants. It did so well that the two companies offered a similar yet smaller follow-up promotion in 2000 (and more recently in 2008). Toys were Pokémon figures in the form of squirters, bean bags, keychains, launchers, light-ups, talking plush and rev-tops. Also, a new talking plush Pikachu was available each week and random BK-only Pokemon trading cards with an image from Pokemon: The First Movie were randomly inserted with each toy. The promotion ran an unusually long eight weeks and was promoted as including “57 Toys in 56 Days: 151 Trading Cards; 6 Gold-Plated Cards” (check out the original press release). The gold cards cost $1.99 each with purchase and can still be found in various auction sites. Good luck catchin’ ’em all on eBay.
Nintendo Superstars (Burger King, 2002)
Included a “Search For the Golden Toy” Sweepstakes where, if you found a limited release gold toy, you also got a free Nintendo game. That meant the toys were packages in solid-plastic bags (though a good toy hunter can discern the object by feel), so you had to open it. All-in-all an annoyance to collectors but still a pretty nice and varied offering of toys: Donkey Kong Time Racer, Water Whirl Wario, Race Around Bowser & Peach, Coin Collector Mario Sunshine, Hop and Slide Diddy Kong, Kirby’s Maze Adventures, Soar & Chase Luigi, Egg Hunter Yoshi, Kirby Ball Toss and Shield Spin Link.
- Mario toys (Wendy’s, 2004)
- Spyro toys (McDonald’s, 2005)
- Yoshi toys (McDonald’s, 1989)
- Mini handheld games (McDonald’s, 2005)
- Super Mario 3 toys (McDonald’s, 1990)
- Sega Sonic Mini Video Games (McDonald’s, 2003)
- DragonballZ & Powerpuff Girls dual-promotion toys (Burger King, 2002)
- Kirby toys (Wendy’s 2001-2003?)
- Sega Sonic the Hedgehog toys (McDonald’s, 2002)
- Frogger 2 toys (Wendy’s, c. 2000)
- Viva Pinata (Burger King, 2007)
- Super Mario Bros. 8-bit bottle caps (Japan Pepsi, c. 2005)
- Dance Dance Revolution (Subway, 2009)
Read [Kids Meal @ Gamertell]