1982: Playmobil figures
McDonald’s launched the Playmobil Happy Meal in 1982. It ordered 30 million toys and had given away 10 million when it announced a voluntary recall after just over a week because of a choking hazard. Customers were given a box of McDonald’s cookies, a cone, or a refund in exchange for the toys.
1983: Hot Wheels
McDonald’s gave away regular Hot Wheels mainline models from 1983 to 1990. In 1991, the fast-food company started including its own car designs in Happy Meals for the first time. They came in plastic baggies rather than full blister packs.
McDonald’s launched Play-Doh Happy Meal in 1983. While the exact ingredients in Play-Doh are proprietary, maker Hasbro says that the ingredients are primarily water, salt, and flour, which sounds like a meal in itself, although it also notes that Play-Doh is not a food item.
Astrosniks, also known as Sniks, were fictional characters created by the German company Bullyland in 1975. Astrosniks were licensed to about 50 manufacturers, including McDonald’s, in 1983 and 1984, when they were first included in Happy Meals.
1984: Ronald McDonald Cloth Doll
Ronald McDonald is one of the most recognizable corporate mascots in the world, so it is no surprise that the doll was also a Happy Meal giveaway. The clown character is so well known it has even become part of American culture — there’s a Ronald McDonald cloth doll in the National Museum of American History.