McDonald’s Happy Meal toy icons return for 40th anniversary

Happy Meal toy pack-ins from the likes of Mattel, Hasbro, Bandai and Ty join Hamburglar and co for a limited-edition re-release

Written by Rhys Thomas

Posted 05.11.2019 | Retail

McDonald’s Happy Meal toy icons return for 40th anniversary thumbnail

Despite plans to phase plastic toys out of its kids’ meals in the UK, McDonald's is celebrating 40 years of the Happy Meal around the world with a special toy promotion.

The Surprise Happy Meal promotion will see the return of some of the most iconic toys served up alongside burgers, chicken nuggets and fries over the past decades.

Among the toys returning between 7 and 11 November are Mattel’s 1993 McDonald’s Hot Wheels Thunderbird, Hasbro’s Power Rangers figure from 1995, Space Jam Bugs Bunny from Warner Bros.’s 1996 animation-live-action-hybrid movie, and, from 2013, Sanrio’s Hello Kitty. McDonald’s characters such as Grimace, Cowboy McNugget and the Hamburglar will also make an appearance.

“Parents tell us how fondly they recall their favorite toys,” says Colin Mitchell, McDonald’s Senior Vice President, Global Marketing. 

“So, unboxing the Surprise Happy Meal together creates a real moment of bonding with their children. We hope these toys are something that they will treasure and remember.”


First introduced as a Circus Wagon Happy Meal in June 1979 nationally in the US, the early iterations of the Happy Meal featured a decorative box including various toys such as a spinning top and McDonaldland character erasers. The boxed kids’ meal is now sold in 38,000 restaurants around the globe.

In the UK, following backlash against wasting plastic, customers will soon be given the choice to swap their Happy Meal toy for either a book or fruit, though the fast food giant is not ruling out promotional toys entirely.

Rival burger chain Burger King estimates it will save around 320 tonnes of single-use plastic each year after removing toys from its UK kids meals in September.

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