When Happy Meal meant a happy belly and a happy child

All Singaporeans love that F word – Free. When a toy comes free with a happy meal, all the better – talk about killing two birds with one stone.

Remember how many burgers you stuffed yourself just to complete that Hello Kitty collection you wanted? Or when you psycho-ed persuaded your mum to wake up early for a spot in the meandering queue to get you your favourite toy when you were away in school?

Even the happy meal box then was attractively packaged. Opening it was like opening a treasure trove – you had no idea what was inside. Okay, so maybe you did, but some suspense just adds on to the fun.

Here’s 14 greatest McDonald’s toys from the 90s, which will make you go dig for yours stored in a dusty corner in the room:

1. Transformers Changeables (1990)

Transformers were cool… before Michael Bay made it into a movie. Just check out how the cheeseburger transforms into… a cheeseburger. Or how fries transform into fries. (Yup you read that right!)

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2. Sonic the Hedgehog (1993)

It’s Sonic!!! And anything with a ripcord’s a winner.

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3. Mr Kiasu (1993)

Everything also I want! Mr. Kiasu’s kiasu trait clearly resonated with many Singaporeans – he dreamt about discounts and sales, and even tried every free sample at a supermarket. Mr. Kiasu’s popularity was on the rise and he even had his own T-shirt, magazine and… McDonald’s toys. He soon became THE character to collect.

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4. Winnie the Pooh (1995)

There’s just something so endearing about our favourite bear who’s always eating honey. And his friends, Tigger and Eeyore, of course.

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5. Mickey’s Merry Band (1996)

Those were the days when McDonald’s gave out almost a full-sized plush…

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6. 101 Dalmatians Figures (1997)

There were literally 101 dalmatians up for collection. Wonder how long that took for anyone to collect an entire set?

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There was even a giant foldable box for you to keep these precious babies you’ve painstakingly collected.

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7. Hercules (1997)

Not your typical damsel in distress story, but every guy wanted to be Hercules.

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8. Mulan (1998)

The girls admired Mulan for her filial piety but probably didn’t want to be her because Asian. Disney’s Sleeping Beauty’s or Cinderella’s beauty definitely surpassed Mulan’s, since she was also a bit of a tomboy. Plus, every girl wanted gold luscious locks.

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9. Winnie the Pooh (1998)

Kids collected them simply because the only thing cuter than Winnie the Pooh is Winnie the Pooh in different costumes.

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10. Sesame Street Happy Meal Mini Bean Pals (1999)

Lalalala~ lalalala~ Elmo’s world! No one could resist mini bean pals! To celebrate Sesame Street’s 30th anniversary, a set of 24 mini Sesame Street bean bag toys were released in 1999. There was even a wall hanging pouch with 24 labelled pockets for each and every bean pal.

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11. Teddy Bears (1999)

This might not be a free happy meal toy, but people still willingly forked out an extra dollar to buy it with an Extra Value Meal purchase. If you have the whole set, congrats. It just means you paid $28 and consumed 28 Extra Value Meals… just to get the one same bear in different clothes. Also, why were there blacker darker-coloured bears in the collection? Racist ah?

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12. Hello Kitty x McDonald’s Love McKitty Plush (1999)

The concept behind this set of Hello Kitty collectibles – Hello Kitty and Dear Daniel were supposed to be in their dating stage, thus the collection’s name being Love McKitty.

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The subsequent year, in year 2000, McDonald’s released another collection of Hello Kitty plush toys. That collection supposedly symbolised the marriage of the kitties and the response was so overwhelming people got into fights and even crashed the gates of McDonald’s outlets. All for this dubious British schoolgirl and her boyfriend. *raises a sceptical brow*

13. Snoopy (1999)

Yet another marketing gimmick for people to consume more McD’s – for basically the same figurine in different traditional costumes, some from countries you’ve never heard of (as a child) in your entire life.

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14. Furby (1999)

Because a full-sized Furby wouldn’t suffice. (Is it just me or do the Furbies look even freakier back in the 90s?)

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BONUS – KFC collectibles

Colonel Sanders World Tour (1999)

Okay, so this one’s definitely not from our beloved McDonald’s, but it still holds some nostalgia for us 90’s kids. It’s also probably one of the rare KFC collectibles I remember. Not too sure exactly why anyone would collect figurines of a fast food chain’s founder, but I had the entire collection displayed on a foldable box it came in.

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Happiness is was simple

It’s hard to believe happiness once came in the form of… happy meals (or Extra Value Meals. Whatever). Not only do you get to feast on your favourite fast food, you even get toys! And of course, you wanted to collect ‘em all (any excuses to eat more fast food. MOARRR!). Your biggest worry would be whether you could get your hands on that much-coveted set of Hello Kitty so you could show off snuggle with it at night.

We’ll always miss those carefree days as a child.

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