The 12 Best Happy Meal Toys Over the Years

Happy Meal Toys

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Happy Meal Toys
Cheapism / DALL-E 3

The Happiest Meals

As a kid, there's nothing quite like unlocking the golden arch handles of your red box Happy Meal and yanking out the toy inside to see what you scored. That anticipation and excitement were certainly more exhilarating than the buzzkill of Mom saying, "Put that down until you finish your food." Happy Meal toys first came about in 1979, and since then they've evolved quite a bit. Here are 12 of the most iconic.

McDonald's Changeables happy meal toys
eBay / kleigha3147

1. McDonalds Changeables (1987, 1989, and 1990)

McDonald's unveiled its transforming Changeables toys in three different iterations in 1987, 1989, and 1990. The transforming toys looked like different McDonald's menu items that morphed into robots. The last one introduced was the 1990 McDino Changeables, which had a dinosaur spin on the fast-food caricatures. 

Fraggle Rock Happy Meal toys
eBay / Lucybears and More

2. Fraggle Rock Cars (1988)

Opening a Happy Meal in 1988, we could practically hear the iconic theme song crooning, "Dance your cares away, worries for another day" as we shoved a couple of salty fries in our mouths, digging down to uncover a Fraggle Rock toy car. The characters of Fraggle Rock were a top-tier Muppet community that resulted in the coolest little toys at Mickey D's in the late '80s, and they unlock multiple layers of nostalgia for us.

McNugget Buddies happy meal toys
eBay / amcneece_4

3. McNugget Buddies (1988)

Ahh, McNugget Buddies. These were adorable chicken nuggets turned into different characters, and there were so many of these cute little figurines in the late '80s. McDonald's fans really went nuts over them.  In fact, the Golden Arch's most recent adult Happy Meals reintroduced new versions of the once-popular Happy Meal toys.

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Super Mario Bros. 3 Happy Meal toys
eBay / whimsynwit

4. Super Mario Bros. 3 (1990)

Super Mario Bros. has been popular for decades. Alongside the release of Super Mario Bros. 3 in 1990, McDonald's launched a line of Happy Meal toys. There were four toys in the set, including Mario (who jumped), Luigi (who had little wheels that allowed him to zoom across the floor), Little Goomba, and Koopa Paratroopa. 

Related: All 9 Items on McDonald's Dollar Menu, Ranked

Barbie Happy Meal toys
eBay / Magic 8 Company

5. Barbies (1992)

Barbie has been a powerhouse for decades. In 1992, you could even find little Barbie figurines in Happy Meals. There were several different Barbies to collect, too, which made it all the more fun for kids.

Related: 12 Items To Try From the McDonald's Secret Menu

The Little Mermaid Happy Meal toys
eBay / Thumprr's Sports&Collectibles

6. 'The Little Mermaid' Toys (1996)

"The Little Mermaid" toys didn't adorn Happy Meals alongside the movie's 1989 release, but the movie's popularity remained strong throughout the '90s (and even still today). When they appeared in the form of Happy Meal toys in 1996, the toys were met with plenty of fanfare. Plus, there was the promise of potentially receiving a "golden toy" from the Golden Arches — how very Willy Wonka of them. 

Related: I Tried Every McDonald’s Burger, and This Was the Absolute Best

101 Dalmations happy meal toys
eBay / LightShine Products

7. '101 Dalmatians' Toys (1997)

"101 Dalmatians" was another Disney takeover on McDonald's Happy Meals, and it was the perfect movie to tap into since there were so many different characters to draw inspiration from. When it comes to Happy Meals, the more variety, the more coveted the toys were, and the more trips to the Golden Arches parents made to try and get their kids as much of the collection as possible. It's a no-brainer on Ronald McDonald's part, folks.

McDonald's Teenie Beanie Babies
eBay / Eclectic Aesthetic

8. Teenie Beanie Babies (1997-2000)

Beanie Babies were all the rage during the '90s, and McDonald's capitalized on the trend, offering Teenie Beanie Babies as Happy Meal toys. Collectors went nuts over these mini Beanie Babies, and there were even conflicts and fights over them at different McDonald's locations. Teenie Beanie Babies hit Happy Meals three separate times with a total of 38 different toys included.

Furby Happy Meal toys
eBay / Blue Ridge Treasures23

9. Furby (1998)

There were a couple of times when you could find Furby toys in your Happy Meal at McDonald's, but the 1998 offerings were elite. Those cute, fuzzy little toys were mini versions of their larger counterparts, which were one of the most popular toys at the time.

Tamagotchi Toyz Happy Meal toys
eBay / Thumprr's Sports&Collectibles

10. Tamagotchi Toyz (1998)

If your parents wouldn't let you have a pet in the '90s, a Tamagotchi got you by. The small keychains were essentially virtual pets you had to care for with centimeter-sized teeny yellow buttons. McDonald's putting those bad boys in Happy Meals was every kid's dream in the late '90s, and spelling "toys" with a "z" to market them was about as on-brand as things could get for '98. The nostalgia is so strong with this one.

Inspector Gadget Happy Meal toy
eBay / Thumprr's Sports&Collectibles

11. Inspector Gadget (1999)

The "Inspector Gadget" cartoon was beloved during the '80s, and in 1999, Disney released a live-action film adaptation, which McDonald's promoted with an Inspector Gadget Happy Meal toy. The toy offered all of the fun little bells and whistles you'd think would come with an Inspector Gadget toy and it was a favorite for a lot of kids.

Sega handheld Happy meal toys
eBay / Dot's Digs

12. Sega Handheld Toys (2004)

These days, a lot of the toys you'll find in a McDonald's Happy Meal are pretty useless. They occupy your kid for the car ride to wherever you're headed and they make their way to the trash can after they've exhausted their purpose. Not 2004's Sega handheld toys. These things were superior and ever-entertaining. No chance you were letting Mom toss that little Sonic game in the trash when she went through her minivan cleaning rampage.