McDonald is Bringing Back Happy Meal Toys You Haven’t Seen in Over 25 Years

Credit: Flickr/Mike Mozart/Canva

McDonald’s recently included Disney100-inspired toys in its Happy Meals, but now the chain is bringing back toys from 25 years ago, and rather than being part of kids’ Happy Meal choices, these toys are returning for the nostalgic adults who remember them as kids.

The McDonald’s-Disney Marketing Strategy

McDonald’s and Disney have enjoyed a long-standing business relationship that lends itself well to marketing campaigns for upcoming Disney, Pixar, and Marvel films. Over the years, patrons at McDonald’s have witnessed the passage of time at the box office as they’ve watched the ever-changing designs on Happy Meal boxes. 

toy story happy meal

“Toy Story 4” Happy Meal/Credit: McDonalds

As new films near their release dates at The Walt Disney Company–especially when those films are geared more toward children and their families–McDonald’s is often in on the pre-release efforts, offering brightly-colored Happy Meal boxes and related toys inspired by Disney’s films.

And in recent years, McDonald’s Happy Meals have featured elements from two giant Disney celebrations–Disney World’s 50th anniversary in 2021 and the 100th anniversary of the inception of The Walt Disney Company in October 2023.

mcdonalds disney world 50th

Credit: McDonalds

A Return to the 1990s

But Happy Meals don’t only feature Disney-inspired packaging and toys. Over the years, McDonald’s has released toys inspired by menu items from the burger chain, though most of those have not been seen for more than two decades.

In the 1990s, McDonald’s featured several different menu item-inspired toys in its Happy Meals, but one particular offering was more popular than the others, and it’s making a return this month.

You don’t have to look too far to see proof that the 1990s and early 2000s are making a return to popular culture. Look around, and you’ll likely see people embracing certain fashion trends from the nineties, including graphic tees, ripped jeans, leather jackets, velvet, and other 90s go-to trends. The so-called “90s Minimalism” has resurfaced, though with a 2020s take on it, and Polaroid recently released its vibrantly-colored cameras from 1996.

Picture of Polaroid Cameras

The “96 Cam”/Credit: Polaroid Cameras

There has even been a resurgence of sorts in the entertainment world as popular sitcoms from the 1990s, including ABC’s Roseanne and Full House, have been rebooted in recent years. And as fashion trends and entertainment offerings continue to revisit the last decade of the 20th century, it’s no surprise that restaurants and fast food chains want in on the retro profits, too.

As such, McDonald’s has announced the return of some of the most iconic Happy Meals toys inspired by menu items. They were extremely popular in the nineties, but since then, they have apparently been in hiding–as they have not returned to the happiest kids’ meal on earth since then. But beginning December 11, fans of the 90s Happy Meal toys–as well as those who’ve yet to ever see the toys–will have the chance to familiarize themselves with the toys, but this time, the toys will be available as part of an adults Happy Meal of sorts.

The McNugget Buddies could be found in Happy Meals more than 25 years ago, and this month, they’ll make their return. Fans of the iconic toys say that their return drums up all kinds of nostalgic memories and feelings–memories that include the look of McDonald’s restaurants in the nineties, complete with the indoor “play places” and associated plastic ball pits, the menu options, kids’ birthday parties, and more.

mcdonalds playplace

Credit: Flickr/Mike Mozart

The 21st-century version of the McNugget Buddies includes six different characters created by artist Kerwin Frost, who also designed the artwork for the box. The Buddies will reportedly come in blind packages so patrons won’t know which one they’re getting.

mcdonalds happy meal toys

Three of the new “McNugget Buddies”/Credit: McDonalds

@snackolator The McNugget Buddies are just pure nostalgia from McDonald’s and I hope I can end up grabbing the set – going to be tricky being in blind bags though! Are you getting the Kerwin Frost meal from @McDonald’s ? #mcdonalds #mcdonaldslife #mcds #mcnuggetbuddies #mcnuggets #kerwinfrost #fastfood #fastfoodlife #fastfoodtok #happymeal ♬ original sound – snackolator

One McNugget Buddy per blind package is available while supplies last to customers who purchase a 10-piece McNugget meal or a Big Mac Meal. But fans looking to collect all six should get them while they last–which might not be very long, especially when you consider how popular they were more than 25 years ago!

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!

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