I feel like an idiot.
I gave away my Happy Meal toy on a Disney Cruise last year. A Gold Sebastian wind up toy that I would later learn was part of a set, circa 1996-1997.
“Why?” you may ask.
Well, the toy was Disney related, and I was on a Disney Cruise. Logical, right? The packaging was open, and 99% of the Happy Meal toys I keep are in sealed packaging. It’s how I purged my collection: open versus not open. I gave away several bins worth of open ones.
Partly, I gave away Gold Sebastian because in my (regretful) hindsight I realize I’m a little too generous for my own good. To be honest, at this stage of my life I feel grateful and blessed. Often, I feel like I have too much as it is, so why not share the spoils of my good fortune?
Also, I foolishly thought the recipient would hold it in as high a regard as I did. There are two things I’ve learned about gift giving: one, you can’t expect people to hold the same things you hold in high value, which is why there are sites like Gemr. And two, sometimes gift giving is more about how the giver feels than the receiver. So if you ever find yourself a beneficiary of something odd like a gold wind-up Little Mermaid Sebastian Happy Meal toy still in the plastic, always, always, if possible, be gracious and show appreciation — for the giver’s sake.
So as I reflected on my misguided kindness, I began to wonder, “How many gold or bronze or silver or metal coated Happy Meal Toys are there? And was Sebastian worth anything?” To answer the latter, Sebastian is currently worth around $10 to $20 according to the popular seller’s websites, and approximately $25 to $50 in a complete set. Kinda disappointing, don’t ‘cha think?
In my research, I came up with a few things. On the former question, there weren’t that many Gold Happy Meal Toy Editions. Surprising, to say the least. From what I can tell, there were only the 1996-1997 gold The Little Mermaid Happy Meal toys from McDonald’s.
And let’s not forget Burger King’s foray into the “Gold Toys” as well. In 1999, Burger King and Nintendo teamed up to sell 57 collectible Pokémon toys to promote the release of the new Pokémon Movie, Pokémon: The First Movie. This promotion ran from November 8 to December 31 based on my loose Internet research.
There were gold cards packed inside a red or blue box. Inside the box was a plastic Pokéball that you would open by pressing the white middle button. Inside you would find the Gold Card in a plastic cover. I vaguely remember these and may have given them to my middle son who, at the time, loved Pokémon and was not a very neat or organized person.
The one gold Kids Meal toy I did keep, was a Homer Simpson gold talking statue. Homer was part of 15 talking statues that were released in 2007 by Burger King. The Simpsons talking figures were created for the promotion of The Simpsons Movie, which started on July 23, 2007, and ended August 26, 2007.
There were 16 figures, four being available each week. On the first week of the promotion, the Lisa, Krusty, and Chief Wiggum figures were available, along with the Golden Homer, which was available every week throughout the promotion. Below is a list of the characters and what they said:
- Homer – “Yee-Hah!” (Both versions)
- Marge – “Oh, Homie!”
- Bart – “Geronimo!”
- Lisa – “We have to save Springfield!”
- Maggie – sucks pacifier twice
- Nelson – “Haw-Haw!”
- Chief Wiggum – “Stop in the name of squeamishness!”
- Comic Book Guy – “Excuse me.”
- Krusty – “Hey, Hey! It’s your old pal, Krusty!”
- Mr. Burns – “Excellent!”
- Barney – “Call me!”
- Flanders – “There’s always room for one more Flanders!”
- Hibbert – “Heh, Heh, Heh.”
- Apu – “Please, Please, I am counting as fast as I can!”
- Russ Cargill – “All eyes on me!”
Fun fact: I love the Simpsons cartoons and watched them for quite a few seasons. But I have yet to see the movie (fan fatigue). What I find interesting is that the Gold Homer I have in my possession is worth anywhere from $5 to $25. The complete set is valued at up to approximately $35 for the open set of just the “Gold Ones.” The full set with only the Gold Homer is roughly $150 depending on the sellers and the condition. Not bad, but disappointing, that my Homer wasn’t as rare as I hoped.
So here is some quick Wiki-History on the Happy Meal
The first kids’ meal, Funmeal, emerged at Burger Chef in 1973 and succeeded. Interested in the growing popularity of the kids’ meal, McDonald’s introduced its Happy Meal in 1978, and other fast food corporations, including Burger King, followed suit with their own kids’ meals.
The Happy Meal comes with a small toy included with the food, both of which are usually contained in a red box with a yellow smiley face and the McDonald’s logo. The packaging and toy are frequently part of a marketing tie-in to an existing television show, film, or toy brand.
What had happened was… In the mid-1970s, Yolanda Fernández de Cofiño began working with her husband operating McDonald’s restaurants in Guatemala. She created what she called the “Menu Ronald” (Ronald menu), which offered a hamburger, small fries, and a small sundae to help mothers feed their children more effectively while at McDonald’s restaurants…
The concept was eventually brought to the attention of McDonald’s management in Chicago. The company gave the development of the product to Bob Bernstein, who then came up with the Happy Meal. He later was honored for the success of the project with a Bronze happy meal box.
The creation of the Happy Meal opened a new revenue stream for advertising and inexpensive toy sales. I would even venture to say the food was secondary. We often hear the words “gold standard” and “good as gold” but in this case, I would say the “gold” (or, many would argue, “bronze”) is actually quite rare in kids meal toys. Almost “Holy Grail-ish,” wouldn’t you say? But alas, it is “fools gold”; from what I’ve read, none of them are as rare or as expensive as some of their other toys, not coated in one color.
The late Prince recorded a song titled “Gold,” and the chorus below kind of expresses how I feel about these gold toys.
“Everybody wants to sell what’s already been sold
Everybody wants to tell what’s already been told
What’s the use of money?
If you ain’t gonna break the mold
Even at the center of the fire, there is cold
And all that glitters ain’t gold.”
Maybe my disappointment in all this is that I hoped that the “gold” version of these toys would be worth more. Perhaps I thought I had accidentally discovered something in my collection that would justify the gluttonous hoarding of all those darn toys, which in turn excuses all the poor eating I did back then. But alas, my research shows the toys are mere trinkets, a blip on the screen, a tool to get children to manipulate their parents to buy junk food. Toys whose only real purpose was to make fast-food companies money and kids happy. Sigh.
It’s ok, I feel better now. I just bought the complete set…