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McDonald's Pokémon Card Happy Meals Are Back, But Fans Aren’t Happy

Many adult Pokémon fans were let down as they found basketball toys inside their kids’ meals

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A Pikachu printed Happy Meal is displayed with a booster pack and a spinning toy.
Image: Nintendo / McDonald’s

When I left work on Tuesday, I immediately rushed to my nearest McDonald’s in order to secure Pokémon cards from its latest Happy Meal promotion. I bought two kids meals (I do not have any children), and I was slightly disappointed when the employee handed me two plain Happy Meal boxes. I had been hoping to receive the Pikachu-printed boxes that were shown on the promotional ad. But I got off lucky, since each box still came with a pack of Pokémon trading cards. Other customers who ordered the Happy Meals have reported receiving Space Jam 2 toys.

The latest McDonald’s promotion is supposed to come with a Pokémon spinner toy, a cardboard Pikachu coin, and a pack of four trading cards (one of which is holographic). These toys are meant to be used in a party game in which one person spins the wheel to decide on a stat, and then each player (up to four) compares their cards to determine who has the highest score. Obviously, most adults who choose to buy the Happy Meals for themselves are mainly interested in obtaining the Pokémon cards. For a lot of customers who purchased the Happy Meal, they got a very different kind of toy.

As you can imagine, many were deeply unhappy about this error. One Twitter user had bought seven Happy Meals, and all seven were toys from the animated cartoon starring LeBron James. One customer who had received a basketball-themed toy pointed out that the McDonald’s app had asked the customer what kind of toy that they wanted.

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The worst part of this is that the Space Jam 2 toys were distributed last summer as part of a promotion for the 2021 movie. Which means that these toys are extremely old leftovers, rather than a mix-up from the last promotion. Before the Pokémon collaboration, Happy Meals came with toys from the Marvel movie Thor: Love and Thunder. One person reported receiving a Love and Thunder box that came with a Scooby-Doo toy. But the vast majority of mix-ups involve last year’s Space Jam toys.

Some Reddit users have explained that many stores simply didn’t have the Pokémon shipment when the collaboration was announced. So it might be worth waiting a few more days, or calling ahead to make sure that your store has the packs. Happy hunting. Oh, and leave some for the kids.

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During last year’s Pokémon collaboration, collectors and scalpers bought dozens of Happy Meals for the card packs. Many of these cards ended up being resold on eBay. Which might not have been a big deal, if not for the fact that these cards and collectibles were primarily meant for children. So before you buy out the entire restaurant, please think about how sad a young Pokémon fan would be if they found Bugs Bunny in their Happy Meal.