Remember McDonald's Changeables? A Look Back At This Happy Meal Staple
I've lost track of what kid's meals toys are like today, but back when I was a wee little one in the late '80s and early '90s, they were arguably the best part about eating at your fast food joint of choice. McDonald's in particular regularly knocked the kid's meal toy ball right out of the park — and hands down one of the best ways they did it was through McDonald's Changeables Happy Meal toys. I had largely forgotten about these suckers until I spotted a post in the r/Pics subreddit featuring them last night, but in honor of Throwback Thursday, I feel they're worth revisiting. Who's with me?
Before Michael Bay got his hands on everything you love from your childhood, Transformers were the kings of the kid's toy world. Given their popularity, then, it's only to be expected that a wide variety of other toys would attempt to capitalize on the transforming robot trend — and capitalize, they did. There's actually an entire Wikipedia category devoted to transforming toy robots. That's how popular they were. This is perhaps unsurprising… but you know what is surprising? The fact that one of the most beloved iterations of the theme were McDonald's Changeables.
There's not a whole lot of information about Changeables' history available online; the most detailed description comes from Wikipedia, but as the Wiki article doesn't cite any outside sources, I'm not totally sure how reliable it is. What all the nostalgia bloggers out there do seem to agree on, though, is the era from which they hailed: The '80s. If the Wikipedia article is accurate, then McDonald's released three different sets of Changeables over a three-to-four-year period. The first set hit in 1987; the second, in 1989; and the third, in 1990. The concept was relatively simple — take some of McDonald's signature items, recreate them in plastic, and make it so they unfold into robot-shaped action figures — but good gravy, were they cool. The third series somehow managed to make them even cooler, too: The figures transformed into dinosaurs.
My brother and I had a couple of them floating around in our toy chest, but to be honest, I'm not totally sure where or when we got them. We very rarely ate at McDonald's when I was a kid; whenever we ordered fast food, it was usually Burger King, owing to the fact that we only had to go one town over for it, as opposed to several (ah, life in small-town America). Clearly we must have gone there at least once during the late '80s, though — possibly during a visit to the Boston Children's Museum, which had a McDonald's nearby that we used to hit up as a treat every so often — because I have vivid memories of foiling a larger robot's evil scheme thanks to the sneak French fry disguise of my own hero bot.
Relive the magic with a few of the Changeables commercial below: