10 Incredibly Rad (and Nerdy) Happy Meal Toys

By Adrian Beiting in Daily Lists, Toys
Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at 8:01 am
8) He-Man Happy Meals.jpg
Before Happy Meal toys were universally labeled as nothing more than plastic traps used to trick kids into the habit of eating the kitchen concoctions of one Ronald McDonald, they were as common a piece of Americana as the food items that populated the cheery boxes they came in. A trip to McDonald's was not only a chance to spend time with Mom and/or Dad, chill (or, dare we say it, exercise?) in the custom playground and chow down on some unfortunately delicious food, it was also a great opportunity to lock up an exclusive toy, commonly tying in with a popular fad or franchise.

But, we're not only here today to wax nostalgic about what the Happy Meal meant to us in its prime. While its glory days could very well be behind it, there's still much to celebrate in Nerd-dom. You see, plenty of nerdy properties were given the Happy Meal treatment before the dust settled, succeeding in improving our nerdy lives by inducing ridiculous glee. Long ago, TR featured some of the lamest Happy Meal toys ever -- now here are 10 of the best and nerd-friendliest toys that accompanied our burgers and fries. Feel free to add your favorites in the comments!

10) Changeables
McDonald's had more than a couple of actual Transformers-themed Happy Meal sets, but they were always kind of a disappointment. Usually they looked awful, they didn't transform, and/or they could only move their arms. When compared to normal Transformer toys, they sucked. But they managed to avoid that problem with Changeables -- yes, the robot modes were lame, but their other forms looked just like McDonald's food and food packaging. And there's just something intriguingly bizarre about a robot that transforms into a styrofoam container of pancakes.That robot is seriously in disguise.

9) Sonic the Hedgehog 3
9) Sonic 3 Happy Meal.jpg
While Sega and McDonald's have had several dalliances since these were released, the Sonic 3 set is arguably the purest of the famous blue speedster's appearances as a Happy Meal toy, mostly because the Sega promos that followed involved handheld games instead of plastic prizes. While Knuckles and Robotnik were kind of off -- only the Tails and Sonic toys did a great job of capturing the characters' attributes (Tails flew, Sonic raced) -- it was still cool to have the foursome immortalized in plastic fast food lore. It's also worth noting that the Tails flyer could get some serious height -- or cause some serious damage when aimed at a little brother's face. Seriously, Tails has never, ever been cooler than in this toy.

8) He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
8) He-Man Happy Meals.jpg
The figures in this set, promoting Mattel's then-new relaunch, were pretty great. Not only were their sizes and sculpts about a stone's throw away from what you'd expect in a toy store, the accessories plentiful and the articulation for the most part swell, but many of the figures included action features and projectiles. And unlike the regular MotU toys, you didn't have to sift through 18 rows of unsold He-Man and Skeletor figures to get them.

7) Super Mario Bros. 3
This set included a jumping Mario, a racing Luigi, a pump-powered Koopa Paratroopa and a Goomba. Yes, Bowser and Princess Toadstool were dishearteningly missing, but we like to imagine that Ronald McDonald established mathematically that the universe would implode had such perfection been reached, leaving them out to save us all. What a guy.

6) Marvel Superheroes
Any nerd not experiencing jubilance at finding a miniature version of The Hulk or select members of the X-Men in his Happy Meal should probably go ahead and turn in his license and move to another way of life. Plus, the color-changing-when-frozen Invisible Woman figure makes for excellent drink décor to this day.

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