Incredibly Expensive McDonald's Toys That May Be Hiding in Your Attic or Garage
For most, it’s only too easy to toss out old toys, especially ones that come inside Happy Meal boxes. But as time passes, some of these tiny toys are appreciating in value — and quickly. Many Happy Meal toy sets are worth anywhere between $50 and $5,000. Those who keep their old knick-knacks inside of storage boxes may want to take the weekend to sort through them. There could be Happy Meal gold in those dusty containers!
TY Teenie Beanie Babies
In the 1990s, Beanie Babies were one of the hottest commodities. They flew off toy store shelves in massive quantities as collectors and parents fought for a chance to own limited edition stuffed animals. McDonald's saw dollar bill signs in those tiny animals and wisely decided to release an extensive collection of Teenie Beanie Babies.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
Since their American debut in 1993, the Power Rangers have dominated children's programming. Throughout the last two decades, McDonald's has released a myriad of Power Rangers toys. Still, the toys they released in celebration of the 1995 Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie are the most popular — and the most valuable.
Despicable Me 2 Minions
The Despicable Me series is one of the most beloved contemporary series for children. It grew in popularity quickly and garnered a few well-earned sequels. In 2013, Despicable Me 2 hit theaters hard, and McDonald's promptly hopped aboard the Minion train. The lumpy yellow henchmen began to appear in Happy Meals nationwide.
If you were a child in 1998, chances are you owned a Furby. These strange, furry robots could speak, blink and, most importantly, learn from previous experiences. While the NSA did declare Furbies to be a significant security risk due to their ability to remember things, it didn't make this claim until 1999.
In 1988, one of the biggest kids’ shows on TV was Jim Henson's Fraggle Rock. Featuring a zany cast of colorful puppets, it had a catchy theme song that was fun and easy to sing along with. Realizing that it could use this earworm to promote Happy Meals, McDonald's promptly deployed a set of Fraggle Rock toys.
McDonald's has a long-term relationship with Hot Wheels miniature toy cars. The fast-food chain has been gifting these mobile playthings to children since 1979. While the newer 2019 models may not be worth very much, the Hot Wheels toys from the 1979 and 1983 releases can fetch a pretty penny.
Transforming Food (Changeables)
The popularity of a particular group of animated, transforming robots seems to have inspired the 1987 release of Changeables, also known as McRobots. These toys initially appeared to be plasticized versions of famous McDonald's food items. Still, by moving the parts of the toys, the food items transformed into delicious-looking robots.
The beloved Peanuts character Snoopy has been a recurring guest in Happy Meals. In 1998 and 1999, the animated pup went on two world tours. The result? Fifty-six unique Snoopy toys, 28 for each world tour. Sold with these figures was a collectible case, one for each trip.
In 1999, Matthew Broderick took on the role of the enigmatic and hapless Inspector Gadget. To celebrate, McDonald's released a set of Inspector Gadget Happy Meal toys. Each toy was a single component of the inspector's body, and a full collection of eight toys resulted in a complete Inspector Gadget action figure.
Potato Head Kids
Toy Story, the contemporary classic Pixar film that defined a generation, features a surly Mr. Potato Head. His demeanor quickly begins to make sense when you consider the fact that Mr. Potato Head was the father of at least eight Potato Head Kids in 1987.
Diener Keshi Underwater Monsters
These tiny rubber monsters are some of the most valuable McDonald's toys in the world. Produced in 1979, a single figure from this collection sells for around $40 or sometimes more. However, the lucky owner of a full set can expect to earn at least $400 from selling these Happy Meal toys.
In 2017, two of the most powerful and influential companies in the world joined forces to create an immensely popular Happy Meal collaboration featuring the affable Mario. Nintendo's mustachioed mascot beckoned gamers and children alike to partake in fries, burgers and nuggets, and the result was astounding.
Prehysteria! was a short-lived family-friendly film series that revolved around the escapades of baby dinosaurs. That may sound pretty odd, but it gets stranger. These tiny dinos were named after famous pop musicians — the Tyrannosaurus rex went by Elvis.
1996 was an excellent year for McDonald's. In celebration of the recently released live-action 101 Dalmatians film, the company decided to produce 101 unique Dalmatian puppy toys. Never before had a Happy Meal toy set been so challenging, or so rewarding, to collect and complete.
Children of all ages look forward to Halloween night. The candy, the scares and the chance to wear a disguise are alluring aspects of the October holiday. In 1986, McDonald's decided to assist their young customers on their quest to obtain massive amounts of sweets by providing Halloween candy pails with the purchase of every Happy Meal.
Diener Keshi Robots
Ah, the famous Diener Keshi Robots. These neon-colored rubber figures were released by McDonald's in 1979, just like their Underwater Monsters counterparts. And they are considered just as rare, and just as valuable. Though single figures may only be worth about $50, a full set easily garners $400.
The Magic School Bus
In 1994, Ms. Frizzle and her class enchanted millions of children with their educational adventures aboard a magical school bus. McDonald's Happy Meals soon began featuring the famous yellow vehicle, replete with tiny students and miscellaneous lessons. The pocket-sized pinball mazes were particularly popular.
The 1997 Tamagotchi Happy Meal was so beloved that in 2019, McDonald's decided to re-release the popular theme. Though the McDonald's version of the electronic pet lacked power and didn't function exactly like a standard Tamagotchi, it remained one of the most collected and treasured toy sets ever to be released by the golden arches.
The Little Mermaid
Disney's iconic 1989 animated film, The Little Mermaid, produced one of the most popular and well-loved princesses of all time: Ariel. Featuring comical secondary characters and a genuinely terrifying villain, the film marked a turning point in children's animated films.
Toy Story changed the way that animators create movies in nearly every way. The 1995 Pixar film went on to become a classic, and adults who grew up watching Toy Story still continue to reference it in daily life. The popularity of this masterpiece will likely increase to infinity, and beyond.
Glory the Bear
Perhaps the most valuable item on this list is Glory the Bear. During the reign of the Beanie Babies, the Ronald McDonald House Charity released a slew of limited-edition plush bears. Most of these prized TY Teenie Beanie Babies are worth a few hundred dollars, but Glory the Bear outdoes them all.
Halloween McNugget Buddies
Parents often like to remind their children that it's inappropriate to play with their food. But in 1996, during the ever-spooky month of October, McDonald's changed that notion. It introduced the public to Halloween McNugget Buddies, anthropomorphized chicken nuggets with devilish costumes and personalities.
The Lion King II
The sequel to the massively successful The Lion King arrived in 1998, bringing with it a new slew of McDonald's toys. The Lion King II Happy Meal toy set immediately became famous, but maybe not in the way manufacturers had initially intended. Each plush toy was designed to represent a significant character from the film.
Wonderful Wildlife Asiatic Lion
Mistakes can be costly, but they can also be precious. Errors in judgment can be a great way to grow and learn, but they can also be valuable rarities, especially when that mistake is a Happy Meal toy. In 1994, McDonald's released an adorable set of plush animals.
Barbie Birthday Fun — Asia
In 1993, McDonald's locations in Malaysia briefly released an Asian version of the popular "Barbie Birthday Fun at McDonald's" three-piece toy set. Featuring Barbie, Stacie and Todd, the set was quickly unavailable, turning it into a valuable rarity. Pristine U.S. editions of this toy set can fetch about $50.
During the late 1990s, the U.S. experienced another British invasion. UK pop bands like the Spice Girls were dominating the charts, and the English-made Mr. Men and Little Miss book series were translated into toys at McDonald's. The resulting collection of 40 toys became a challenge for collectors.
Pixar continued to stun and impress audiences after enjoying the success of hits like Toy Story and A Bug's Life. Its 2001 film, Monsters, Inc., celebrated the same amount of popularity, and naturally, McDonald's released a 10-piece toy set to commemorate the film.
Madame Alexander Dolls
2001 and 2002 saw the release of a completely new type of Happy Meal toy: ornate, old-fashioned miniature dolls. The first set of six Madame Alexander dolls featured a tiny Peter Pan, a Little Red Riding Hood and a traditional groom, among others.
Wacky Races became a popular children's cartoon show during the late 1960s, so it came as a surprise when McDonald's decided to release a small set of Wacky Races Happy Meal toys in 1991. Featuring notable characters such as Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear and Boo Boo, the four-piece set emanated nostalgia.
The 1987 Muppets Happy Meal toy collection consisted of six pieces, with two specifically designed for children under the age of three. The Muppets featured in the toys had abandoned their adult visages for infantile clothing and features. These baby Muppets were all shown driving or riding various machines.