|Photo: Breakmould, Flickr.
Most of these meals fall into two categories: interactive advertisements for recent blockbusters or beloved television shows, and lame.
We're focusing on the latter, those toys over the years that were uninspired, nonsensical, or just plain disappointing. Each of these so-called "collectibles" currently languishes in the corners of garages, the bottoms of landfills and in the remote, digital wastelands of eBay.
8. Wendy's French Fry Roadster
Why it's lame: Little boys, and little girls interested in speed and combustion engines want to populate their imaginations with facsimiles of actual cars, not bizarre vehicles that celebrate a mundane activity: the purchasing of french fries. This "roadster" is wholly incompatible with other appropriate toy cars in a fantasy race. A sports car versus a car powered by starch and ketchup? C'mon.
7. KFC Kids Laptop Meal
Why it's lame: There isn't even a toy included in KFC's current offering to tykes. The prize offered is the box itself, which is decorated with fast food factoids and various games. If this were the Great Depression, we could see how a box might be a fun toy -- same with shoelaces and scrap metal. But this meal was designed to crush the lofty, consumerist dreams of little kids pining for plastic knickknacks.
6. Taco Bell "Star Trek III" Glasses
Why it's lame: For many years, fast food restaurants somehow convinced customers to visit their stores in order to collect movie-themed glasses. Maybe back in the 1980s, someone actually thought, "One day, this cheap glass adorned with last week's hit movie will pay for my retirement." Sorry that didn't happen. Plus, we remember this glass, and remember wishing it was an action figure, instead of tacky pop art. A Spock action figure isn't so much fun when he's just a glass full of milk.
5. Subway's Crocodile Hunter
Why it's lame: This toy makes us miss Steve Irwin, the good-natured, hyperactive television personality who loved animals, even while he was desperately trying to wrestle with them. But even way back in 2001, who thought a toy inspired by flop flick "The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course" would be even remotely fun? It's a wind-up toy featuring a grown man in shorts riding a giant reptile. That kid with the toy dinosaur was laughing at the sprout who was seen playing with this particular bric-a-brac.
4. New Food Changeables
Why it's lame: Most kids would prefer an extra chicken nugget to a cheap plastic toy. Enter this Happy Meal misfire. Normally, it's really a simple formula for toy makers. Robots that transform into cars, helicopters or tanks are cool little-kid catnip. Robots that transform into hotcakes? Not so much. Call us when you've got cannons that fire syrup.
3. Burger King's Rattling, Paddling Riverboat
Why it's lame: It should be noted that the main reason this toy boat is lame is because it caused a major recall, as it was discovered to be a choking hazard. This was not a positive selling point. Also, how many children spend their days idly dreaming about life on a riverboat? There was only one Tom Sawyer, and he was a work of fiction. Heaping a deep misunderstanding of demographic desires on top of the whole "death" thing doomed this toy to utter failure.
2. McDonald's Nature Watch Happy Meal
Why it's lame: McDonald's gets points for attempting to manufacture environmentally friendly toys, like this series of gardening and bird-feeding kits. But there's something about this attempt that feels like it needs the tag line "Motivation Not Included. Parental Nagging Required." If you're going to try to sell gardening as fun, try harder. Why not grow an insect munching Venus flytrap? You're welcome, past marketers. Love, the future.
1. Chick-fil-A Books
Why it's lame: When will fast food restaurants get it? Most kids just want a toy gun, a ball or a robot (that doesn't transform into something lame, like a biscuit). Legendary regional chicken sandwich shop Chick-fil-A recently just rejected the notion of bribing kids with colorful, disposable tchotchkes, and are instead giving out things called "books." Books combine words and pictures in order to inform, teach and entertain ... which is totally lame.
John DeVore has written for Maxim Magazine, The New York Sun, Cracked.com, Comedycentral.com, Esquire.com, Playboy.com and for the award winning political parody Whitehouse.org. Follow him at twitter.com/johndevore.