Since McDonald’s introduced the Happy Meal in 1979, it has captivated millions of children’s hearts (and tummies). What could make a kid smile wider than a fun carton box filled a cheeseburger, French fries, a cookie, a drink, and a free toy?
And when Micky D’s brought Disney characters to life in figurine form in 1996, the Happy Meal became a kids’ menu mainstay. While other fast food chains, like Sonic, Chick-fil-A, and Burger King, have included toys in their kid’s meals, the Happy Meal has a special place in every American child’s knickknack collection. Some have even become popular antique collector’s items. From Beanie Babies to Tamagotchis, here’s a jog down the golden arches’ memory lane of the most popular 90s Happy Meal toys. Want to learn more about fast foods and how they’ve changed overtime? Subscribe to the new Eat This, Not That! magazine now! For a limited time, you can save 50 percent off the cover price—click here!
Camp McDonaldland (1990)
Cutlery, a collapsible cup, a first aid kit, and a food bowl were part of these camping essentials. These Happy Meal toys were outside of the box from the fast food joint’s usual collection, but these items were actually usable.
Nature’s Watch (1991)
This irresistibly cute nature set included a double shovel-rake, a hose cup, a mini greenhouse, and even a little bird feeder. Pretty cool for free toys with your McNuggets.
Tiny Toons Flip Cars (1992)
For a limited time, the Tasmanian devil, Elmyra Duff, and Plucky Duck were racing for spots in kids’ Happy Meals—literally. The toys included the characters and their cars, but each character was switched out every week, so if you wanted one Tiny Toon over the other, you had to act fast.
Nickelodeon Game Gadgets (1992)
If you are a 90s kid, you probably recognize the orange Nickelodeon blimp floating around your television screen like it was yesterday. This five-piece set included the blimp, a mini “loud-mouth” microphone, applause paws, a mini-game, and a gotcha gusher slime squirter.
Michael Jordan Fitness Fun (1992)
McDonald’s promoting health and fitness? Only when it comes to Michael Jordan, who was at the pinnacle of his NBA career in the 90s. The basketball phenom sealed the 1992 championship win for the Chicago Bulls against the Portland Trail Blazers. That same year, MJ was named MVP for the second time in a row. Each fitness set came with a mini basketball, football, soccer ball, jump rope, and toy stopwatch.
McDonald’s Fundamentals (1992)
Back in the days of simpler toys, McDonald’s collaborated with the American Dietetic Association to create characters that represented a variety of foods. There was Ruby the Apple, Milly the Low-Fat Milk (remember when that was a thing?), Slugger the Steak, and Otis the Sandwich. Each character was part of a fundamental food group, which has ironically changed over time.
From the Joker to Two-Face to Bruce Wayne himself, these Happy Meal toys came shortly after the 1992 Batman Returns movie hit theaters.
Happy Birthday Happy Meal (1994)
For the 15th anniversary of the Mickey D’s Happy Meal, the fast food joint launched a medley of its most popular toys. All 11 of the Happy Meal toys formed a birthday train!
Power Rangers (1995)
These action figurines debuted during the same time of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie, which was based on the popular television series. Whether you were rooting for the green ranger or the pink ranger, these toys brought their superhero skills off the screen and onto your table. Now they go for around $10 a pop on eBay, although a complete set of all six characters and their respective matching vehicles may cost you more.
Halloween Happy Meals (1995)
These four figurines were transformed from regular kids to mummies, ghosts, and pumpkins with a clip-on costume attachment. The Happy Meal toys also came with mini cassette tapes, which played a different spooky Mickey D’s song. Now that’s scary good!
Disney Masterpiece Collection (1996)
This star-packed Happy Meal set of toys featured characters from Disney hits, like Toy Story, Bambi, Lion King, and The Adventures of Winnie The Pooh. But in 2006, Disney decided to end its partnership with McDonald’s when it became the first mass media company to establish nutrition criteria for its advertisers. After years of work on McDonald’s part to meet these criteria, the two decided to team back up this year just in time for the release of Incredibles 2 and Wreck-It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet.
Sky Dancers (1996)
Princess Pegasus, Rosemary, Flutterfly, and Swan Shimmer were every 90’s girl’s best friend, especially after McDonald’s brought the flying princess toys to Happy Meals in 1996. The frenzy even inspired a television spin-off the same year with five renamed characters attending the fictitious High Hope Dance Academy.
Space Jam (1996)
The animated sports film starring Michael Jordan and Looney Toons characters inspired the launch of this eight-piece toy set. Today, you can find this entire collection of connectable characters on eBay for $34.95.
101 Dalmatians Set (1996)
Micky D’s created 101 dalmatian toys, complete with a red carrying case, to celebrate the release of the heartwarming Disney classic in theaters. If you’re feeling nostalgic and want to channel your inner Cruella De Vil, you can get a set of your own pups for $149.00 on Amazon.
Barbie and Hot Wheels (1997)
Could there be any other toys that better define your childhood? Barbies for the girls, and Hot Wheels for the boys. Every kid felt like they walked away with their new favorite toy with each Happy Meal.
The Little Mermaid (1997)
Every little girl in America remembers The Little Mermaid, a timeless Disney film that was inspired by the Danish fairytale. The best part of these golden Happy Meal toys is that they also floated in water—perfect for bath time!
Ty Teenie Babies (1997)
When Beanie Babies hit the shelves in 1993, McDonald’s was not far behind with the creation of Ty Teenie Babies Happy Meal toys. Chocolate the moose, Chip the cat, Goldie the goldfish, and Speedy the turtle were some of the Ty furry friends kids found in their red box. The teenie beanie babies became so popular that McDonald’s sold more than 100 million in 1997 alone, and commotions broke out at several McDonald’s locations as customers fought for the toys, resulting in injury, police calls, and even criminal charges.
Tamagotchi Toys (1998)
You know you wish you still had one. While you actually couldn’t feed and bathe your McDonald’s pet, these keychains are relics of the Japanese, egg-shaped digital toy.
Mini Furbies (1999)
Remember this must-have owl-like toy? Furbies were released in 1998 with blockbuster holiday sales amounting to more than 40 million furbies sold in its first three years of production. Some kids woke up Christmas morning to a new Furby while others had to wait until the next toy release to snag one. So it was only natural that McDonald’s jumped on the toy frenzy. In 1999, they produced eight different moving toy furbies in ten bold colors. From hot pink furbies with red ears to turquoise ones with green mohawks, you can find a one that matches your personality.