Tag Archives: toy story 4

Toy Story 4 Happy Meal RV


happy meal boxThe Happy Meal toy is one of the lowest common denominators of toys. It’s somewhere above that of a vending machine toy, but maybe not quite as good as the toys at the local pharmacy. It’s the kind of toy that a child is happy to have in the moment, and then a day later it’s at the bottom of a toy box or forgotten in the car. And that is essentially by design. The toy is just a means of attraction, like a cereal box toy, and also is a means of promotion. It gets the attention of a child via a commercial or restaurant signage which in turn gets said child to beg their parents to buy them some delicious, but also terrible, food in order to get this temporary must-have item. And it works, probably too well, which is why the state of California actually banned McDonald’s from including a toy with its Happy Meal (you have to buy the toy separately for a meaningless amount of money) because the feeling was that fast food was a leading contributor to childhood obesity.

Like a lot of things, credit for the Happy Meal is given to some rich white guy, but the idea originated elsewhere. Its roots can be traced to Guatemala where restaurant operator Yolanda Fernández de Cofiño first came up with the concept of creating a meal for kids making it easy for parents to just walk in and order an item for their children. McDonald’s liked the idea so much, that it basically adopted the concept worldwide and thus the Happy Meal was born. It debuted in 1977 and Bob Bernstein is recognized by the company as the creator of the product. It went national in ’79, and that year the first big marketing tie-in was utilized in the form of Star Trek:  The Motion Picture. Kids who received a Happy Meal during this promotion would receive a piece of a comic book strip. In order to see the full story, they had to keep coming back and buying more.


I may have lost you, but I’ll never forget you, McNugget-O-Saurus.

This concept of having to buy repeated Happy Meals for a larger experience is not one utilized by the company very often. Usually, a Happy Meal is just connected to an external property and cheap toys are made based on that property to promote a movie, TV show, or something else. Occasionally, there is no real outside promotion and McDonald’s just promotes itself. In fact, some of the most well-remembered Happy Meal toys fall into this category. I know when I was a kid, a personal favorite of mine were the transforming meal item toys. Originally, there were food items that transformed into robots. There was no connection to the Transformers officially, but I’m sure that’s where the influence came from. Later the robots were replaced with dinosaurs leading to one of my all-time favorite Happy Meal toys:  The McNugget-O-Saurus! Another popular promotion were the Halloween trick-or-treat pails featuring a pumpkin, ghost, and witch. These pails would reappear several times, and the best version featured a removable piece in the center of the lid to pass the candy through, though all knew these pails were far too small for actual trick-or-treating.

And that’s not to say that the external promotional items weren’t memorable as well. A lot of the times they were just simple, cheap, toys with an action feature that was often repeated. Other times though there was a gimmick that worked a bit better. For some reason, I have strong memories of some Tiny Toons cars that featured a domed portion that contained an action when the car was pushed. I had Buster and in his dome was a mini basketball court and the ball would shoot in the air and sometimes go through the little plastic hoop inside. I don’t know why I remember this particular toy. I know I got it when my mom took me and me alone to McDonald’s, a rarity as often my sister would be included. She must have been at a sleep over or something and my mom wanted to treat me. We got it at my favorite McDonald’s too, a blue-roofed restaurant somewhere near Gloucester, VA that also had a classic car in the dining room (I want to guess it was a Chevy, but can’t recall). We only lived there a short while, and my guess is that McDonald’s is gone and replaced with one of the newer models which is a shame. Another promotion I remember is coincidentally another Warner one that featured a Loony Tunes figurine with snap-on DC super hero costumes. I had the Bugs as Superman and I liked it so much I nearly bought a set a year ago off of eBay, but thought better of it.

I have some positive memories of Happy Meal toys, but like most kids turned adults, I don’t physically own any of those toys. They were disposable, and while I liked them in the moment, I soon forgot about them. I have even fewer memories of competitors Burger King and Wendy’s. They followed suit with kids meals as well, Burger King even had the Burger King Kid’s Club in the 90s with its own cast of characters. I remember BK was the first to land the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles license, but their toys were terrible. When Disney and McDonald’s had a break-up, BK was also there to swoop in leading to some worthwhile attractions. They were actually separate from their kid’s meal though and included things like puppets. I remember two versions based on Toy Story in particular.

toy story 4 happy meal art

I’m just glad my kids are young enough to not realize they want all 10.

Which brings us to today’s post, Toy Story 4 Happy Meal toys. Ever since Disney and McDonald’s kissed and made up in 2018, the franchise has rolled out several Happy Meal promotions based on a Disney property. They even just went back-to-back with Toy Story 4 and now The Lion King and earlier this year had toys based on The Avengers. As a parent of small kids, I am often asked to go to McDonald’s because, like most kids, they love Happy Meals. McDonald’s is often tempting because it’s cheap, tastes good, and my kids will actually eat it. Most parents likely know the frustration of making a meal only for a picky eater to just poke at it and play with it. Dinner time is not fun, and feeding a kid something they’ll actually eat is often quite tempting. McDonald’s has improved its Happy Meals to a point, but they’re still pretty unhealthy. As such, I rarely give in with my kids maybe averaging one trip per month, but it’s harder when the toys are so attractive.

I have a Disney family. We all love Disney and Pixar too and Toy Story 4 in particular. When I saw the toys I didn’t think much of them, but then I saw what they could do. Individually, they’re unremarkable. Some are even terrible. Most feature a figurine of one of the film’s characters and a base with an action feature of some kind. The first one we received was Forky while we were on a road trip. Forky’s figurine is a good enough likeness that it’s cute, and his base features a dumpster and he’s supposed to get launched into it. I never saw my kid pull it off as he often missed. And poor Forky’s paint application was so cheap that it started to scratch off. Others, like Trixie and Rex, lack a figurine and just imitate a carnival ride and is quite dull. Ducky and Bunny at least feature a roulette wheel that’s a game. It’s a boring game, but at least it does something. By far, the most fun are Buzz and newcomer Duke Kaboom. Buzz just gets launched straight into the air, which is pretty common for a Happy Meal toy, but it’s at least common for a reason. Duke is similar, only he gets launched horizontally off a ramp. The only odd thing about him is that the wheels on his motorcycle aren’t actual wheels. He just glides. Woody and Bo Peep both feature a dull action, but at least the figurines look nice.


Along the way, I ended up with an assortment of doubles.

All in all, there are ten toys to collect and if you manage to collect them all, like that original Star Trek promotion, you can experience something more. The base pieces from each toy combine to re-create the RV Bonnie and her family travel in during the film. This concept has always intrigued me and as a kid it was also something that felt out of reach. As an adult though I’ve taken advantage of it as a build-a-figure attraction with toy lines like Marvel Legends and even Futurama. It’s a brilliant concept as it can lead to people purchasing a character they may not want, but will help them complete a figure they do want. As a Happy Meal toy, it’s even more frustrating as who goes to McDonald’s enough times in a month to get 10 toys? Plus, each restaurant receives a different allotment of toys so even if you were to walk in intending to just buy the toys outright you’d likely end up disappointed. When I took my kids, all they had was Forky, which was good for my son since that was the one he wanted, but it deprived us of a second piece as my daughter received the same.

We ended up seeing Toy Story 4 two weeks after that visit, which meant another McDonald’s trip. There my kids received separate toys – score! One more visit at the end of the promotion lead to a fourth toy. That was more than enough Happy Meals and an extended McDonald’s break is now needed, but as a toy collector I couldn’t look at these four now discarded toys and not want to see the end goal realized.


Individually, the toys suck, but at least the figurines look okay. Left to right:  Forky, Bo Peep, Gabby Gabby.

To eBay I went! There I found several listings for complete sets and individual toys. Most sellers wanted somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 to 50 bucks for a set of 10. No thanks. Individually, most were also trying to mark these things up as high as 10 bucks a figure, some yet to factor in shipping! I initially abandoned my pursuit, but on occasion I would get curious and do another search. With the promotion nearly over I was hoping that some who tried to collect a set by simply going to the restaurant would have failed and given up by putting what they had on eBay. I ended up being proved right as I found an auction for 7 distinct pieces, plus numerous doubles. Since there was a secondary promotion with these figures in the form of a contest you had to enter, that may have also contributed to people buying up a bunch of these things in hopes of winning a trip to Disney World or something. Whatever the reason, this person had a bunch of toys and I ended up paying about 10 bucks for the whole lot.


Don’t forget Woody and Buzz. I do appreciate that the designers seemed to settle on a certain look for these toys they all adhere to. It’s similar to the Disney Infinity look.

The problem with doing so was that I was a figure short. Bo Peep was the one toy that between my own visits and this stranger on eBay’s lot that managed to elude me. I couldn’t let myself come up a figure short, and I paid an eBay price for her. I’m not proud, but in the end at least I didn’t pay 40 bucks to assemble this thing, because had I done so I would have been extremely disappointed.


Are we sure this thing isn’t a torture device for poor Jessie? At least she’s smiling.

Now, I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular, but I did hope to end up with an interesting visual display to mark the release of Toy Story 4, one that would hopefully prove relatively unique down the road. Most of the toys come with stickers that can be applied. There’s some freedom afforded here as some include window decals that feature a character, and some that are empty. I chose to omit the creepy puppet character, because he’s  both creepy and because he never set foot on the RV in the movie. The outer wheels of the RV are just decals with the real wheels actually found underneath the RV. It can roll, it’s just unconventional in how it does so. The pieces all connect rather easily, the only tricky one is the front piece (#2) that connects the top and bottom. That part is a bit frustrating, but manageable. Forky’s launcher serves as the ladder and can be affixed to the rear of the RV. There are pegs on the top to place figurines, and Jessie’s posts are designed to go in-between piece #2 and the body of the RV.


The end result is a mildly attractive piece, but also one that’s a touch fragile. If I turned this over to my kids it would probably fall apart constantly. Or, they would want to take it apart to make use of the individual toys, even though they mostly suck. That’s why I’m glad that eBay lot contained numerous doubles. They have plenty of toys to play with, and Dad has his display piece. The RV would look a lot better with more color. It’s all one, uniform, shade of light gray with only the stickers to really break things up. I generally hate stickers on toys, but I wish McDonald’s had included more to add more color. I suppose I could paint it if I felt that strongly about it, but I’m too scared I would end up with something I disliked ever more if I went that route.


“Hey dudes, lets turn this thing into a party wagon!”

Not including the Happy Meals I bought my kids, I ended up spending a little over 20 bucks to assemble this thing. If I saw it in a store for 20 bucks would I buy it? Maybe. Probably not for myself, but if my kid wanted it as a present I’d probably be okay at that amount. And then I’d also probably think it’s overpriced depending on how much enjoyment my kid got out of it. It felt like a unique thing to have though, and I do adore my Disney related knick knacks. Now I just need to find a place for it. It’s pretty big, probably around 8″ long, so that won’t be an easy task. I don’t expect this thing to appreciate much though, especially given that prices for that set of Loony Tunes as superheroes I mentioned earlier were pretty reasonable. It should still retain its neatness though, even if one day it just winds up being some toy I hand off to a random kid visiting my house once my own kids age out of traditional toys. Hopefully, McDonald’s has no plans for similar releases as I don’t want to be tempted again by another build-a-set series.

Lego 10766 – Woody and RC (Toy Story 4)

img_4030There’s a new Pixar movie incoming next month, which also means lots of new merch! Especially when the movie is none other than Toy Story 4 as what movie franchise could possibly lend itself better to toys than one about actual toys? Toy Story 4 is a merchandising juggernaut for Disney and a cash cow at the box office as well. That’s pretty much why it still exists as Pixar never intended to even do Toy Story 2. Normally, cash grabs can seem cynical, but in the case of Toy Story I think all can agree that the franchise’s continued existence is very much a good thing as it has yet to deliver a dud. Toy Story 4 could obviously change that, but for now that feels unlikely.

Lego is back to supplement the film with construction sets based on the property. This isn’t new, but what is new is that we now have some pre-existing mini figures in need of some company. Prior Toy Story sets put out by Lego went with customized mini figures that prioritized likeness over the traditional mini figure aesthetic. With Lego’s first wave of Disney themed mini figures a few years ago, the company created a Buzz Lightyear that is basically a traditional mini figure but with some accessories. The line also included an alien which was more like the old Toy Story mini figures in which Lego went with a custom headsculpt. Those two guys seemed lonely on my shelf, so I was happy to check out the latest sets to see what I could do for them.


Woody together with his former adversary turned best friend.

And the one that jumped out at me is Lego 10766 – Woody and RC. This is essentially a remake of an old set, 7590, which featured Woody, Buzz, and RC plus the giant rocket from the climax of the original Toy Story. I don’t know why they’re doing a scene from the first film in promotion of the fourth, but I’m not complaining. This set is simpler and includes Woody as a more traditional mini figure, RC, and some in-scale army men. For the low price of 10 dollars, it felt like a no brainer when I saw it at the store as I could easily pair it with the Buzz I already have.


Woody is the driver here.

Woody is a pretty straight-forward mini figure. His hat and hair are attached to his head. They’re likely separate pieces and could be separated by someone with some degree of determination, but I am not that person. All of his costume details are printed on and there’s no holster or anything additional. The little army men are just small, all green, pieces. They’re a cute touch, even if they’re not exceptional. There are also some cones to put together and an assortment of boxes with colored lids. It would have been nice if instead of boxes Lego had just included traditional alphabet building blocks, but that would require some custom printing and Lego obviously wanted to target a smaller price point for this one.


The cockpit only has room for one.

RC is the main attraction. His build is quick and simple, but also quite clean and functional. His decals and eyes are printed pieces so no stickers to screw around with. You could probably build him just by looking at a picture, but there are of course instructions included. He also features a little remote control that Woody can hold and it’s also a simple construction, but one that captures the likeness quite well. Woody can fit in the driver’s seat area easily and I so far have elected to position Buzz on the tail piece. There’s nothing for him to click onto though. This RC is not as robust as the older one, but it works. About the only complaint I could levy is that the front bumper could have been done in a more inventive manner and the rear wheels should be larger than the front. He sits a bit too flat compared with the source material.


Where Woody and company can expect to live out their days. It beats an attic.

A quick and simple post for a quick and simple Lego set. This one does its job and I’m happy to position Woody, RC, Buzz and the Alien together amongst my other Disney collectibles. And while I’d love to add Jessie or Rex, I don’t see myself shelling out for additional Toy Story 4 sets. I prefer this aesthetic for the figures compared with the older ones, and it’s nice to see a relatively cheap, licensed, set from Lego. I don’t think I need any additional Toy Story characters (technically, I don’t need any at all), but maybe I’ll change my mind after seeing Toy Story 4.

Disney+ Revealed

Disney+It was only a matter of time until big companies got into streaming. Netflix was allowed to practically monopolize the market for years before facing any sort of real challenge. Now we have Hulu, Prime Video, as well as numerous niche offerings like WWE Network and Crunchyroll which cater to a specific type of fan. Premium channels like HBO can now be subscribed to without a cable subscription as more consumers look to change how they watch television. With Warner Media announcing in November of 2018 that it intended to offer a streaming service, it only made sense that Disney would follow suit. Not only did Disney possess its own vast library of works, it had recently entered into an agreement to acquire 20th Century Fox adding even more volume. And given how much money Disney had paid to acquire Fox’s portfolio, it only makes sense that the media giant would want to find a way to monetize that investment sooner rather than later.

We’ve known for months that Disney+ was coming. We’ve also known it was going to feature the entirety of Disney’s film library. This was notable when announced because it likely means the long-vaulted film Song of the South will be readily available for the first time in decades. Song of the South is a live-action animated hybrid first released in 1946. At best, it’s content was deemed racially insensitive and at worst flat-out racist as it sought to portray a setting of happy plantation workers in a post Civil War setting. Most historians seem to agree that Walt Disney’s heart was in the right place when the movie was made, but also acknowledge it’s very problematic. Today, most fans will just recognize the animated characters from the popular Disney World and Disneyland attraction Splash Mountain. Disney has long sought to distance itself from this film and never released it on VHS or DVD in the west. It has been released in some parts of the world where the issue of American slavery is less thorny. It’s likely appearance on Disney+ will be the first time many Americans are exposed to the film outside of a bootleg.

uncle remus

Disney+ will likely be how a lot of folks will first experience the controversial Song of the South.

A 70-year-old film that’s not very good wasn’t going to drive the success of Disney+ though. Song of the South will probably have high stream counts when the service launches and gradually fade away. The rest of the Disney film library will do a lot of the heavy-lifting, but how much was that going to be worth to consumers? Disney, more so than any other studio, has a pretty loyal following of fans that still buy its movies on physical media. While it’s certainly convenient to have films readily available on a streaming platform, what’s the value to Disney fans that already have most of these movies?

UPDATE:  Apparently “entire film library” does not apply to the controversial ones as it is now being reported that Song of the South will indeed be excluded from Disney+ when it launches this fall. In addition to that, Dumbo will see the infamous Jim Crow scene annexed from its film. Song of the South is not a good film so it’s not much of a loss to not have it on the streaming service. In the spirit of not hiding from one’s past, I would have liked to have seen it included with a disclaimer or even an introduction added on, but I’m also not surprised. Removing an entire scene, a rather pivotal one at that, from Dumbo is more concerning. If they’re going to start chopping up their films to remove questionable content (and there’s more than just Dumbo) then I’d prefer they just not include them on the platform.

Disney was going to have to make Disney+ special, and on April 11th the company at long last laid out what it envisioned for the service. The most important detail, as always, is cost. The service will launch in November 2019 at a cost of $6.99 per month in the US, or $70 per year. Other regions will follow as the company likely looks to stagger the release to get a read on how much their servers will have to work. Presumably, the cost will be the same or roughly the same in other parts of the world. It’s an aggressive price point, not in that it’s too high, but in that Disney clearly looks like it’s trying to undercut Netflix, which just raised its prices. Disney owns a 60% stake in Hulu so it likely doesn’t want to undercut that too much. And with the confirmation that it will be ad-free, Disney+ already looks like one of the better bargains in the streaming world.

disney+ dash

A concept of what fans can expect to see when they login to the service.

Disney+ will also include not just Disney films, but Star Wars and Marvel as well. This isn’t much of a surprise, but there probably were some wondering if one, or both, of those big brands would be sent to Hulu instead. It was also touted that the launch of the service will feature the newly released Captain Marvel, currently airing in theaters at the time of this writing. It’s interesting that Captain Marvel was highlighted, but not Toy Story 4 which is set for release this June. At the time Disney+ launches, Toy Story 4 will likely be heading to home media and digital for the holidays. That film might be the first litmus test for what fans can expect between home video and streaming release. It would be understandable if Disney wants a gap between the two so as not to harm home media sales, but it also needs to make its streaming service attractive in regards to new releases.

Disney knows it will need some original content to compete with the likes of Netflix, and it announced a few new shows destined for its streaming service. The Mandalorian is a Star Wars themed show about a bounty hunter that looks like Boba Fett because that character is inexplicably popular. There will also be an animated show based on Marvel’s What If? line of comics and a live-action show called WandaVision focusing on Scarlet Witch and Vision. Some what of a surprise was the announcement that the “live-action” Lady and the Tramp is going to be a direct-to-streaming film on the service as opposed to a theatrically released film. I suppose Lady and the Tramp isn’t as popular as the likes of Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast, but given how much money these live-action remakes have been making it’s still a bit of a surprise to see it bypass the theater.


The Simpsons “welcome” their new corporate overlords.

Perhaps the biggest surprise though was reserved for a non-Disney property:  The Simpsons. America’s favorite animated family is coming to Disney+ and all thirty seasons will be available on day one. I think most assumed that The Simpsons was destined for Hulu, but apparently Disney feels the brand is too valuable for that platform. It’s probably right, though this likely spells the end for The Simpsons World, the streaming portion of the FX Now app which currently is home to the entire series for anyone with a cable subscription. That app was limited, though it was still useful to have every episode on demand, with optional commentary no less. I assume the show will still air on FXX, assuming Disney keeps the channel around, but the on demand options to cable subscribers are probably about to decrease substantially.

What wasn’t touched on in as much detail as I would have liked is what is to come of the television properties Disney owns? Specifically, can we expect to see the entire Disney Afternoon collection of shows on this service? The announcement did make mention of Disney Channel programming so it’s expected all or most of the current programs will be there, but it wasn’t elaborated on. I also want to know if the classic theatrical shorts will show up, and if so, will they be remastered in HD? Some packages of shorts are currently available on Netflix, so it wouldn’t surprise me if those make it to Disney+ early on, but I’m really hoping all of the classic animation is included.

pooh and christopher robin

Disney+ could be a place where television shows like The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, one that has been ignored by Disney since it ceased airing, could finally find a new home.

Given the amount of content and the low introductory price, I think it’s safe to say that Disney+ will have a pretty successful launch. My household will likely be a day one subscriber as my kids probably average one Disney movie per day and this will save ware and tear on my Blu Ray collection. I suspect the price-point to change much faster than Netflix changed its pricing. The most popular Netflix subscription just increased to $13 per month, nearly twice what Disney+ will cost in November. There’s no way Disney, a company that really loves money, will stay at the low-end for long. It’ll be interesting to see how aggressively the company raises that number, with it likely staying put for a year or so. Disney will probably try to incentivize consumers to subscribe to the service in a package with Hulu and ESPN.

What we’re also likely to discover in the coming years as well is just how large an appetite the consumer has for streaming content. Cutting the chord used to be a radical concept, but now is starting to become pretty normal. It was once a way to drastically reduce the cost of television in the average household, but with more streaming options showing up spreading things around it’s no longer the value it once was. My guess is that consumers will become less loyal to any one brand and will be constantly switching between services on a monthly basis. That is, until the content providers start forcing or aggressively incentivizing consumers to subscribe to deals that last for months, or even years. It’s even possible they’ll be forced to turn to contracts, and then we’ll basically be right back to where we were with cable companies. The cycle will repeat.

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