Toy Commercial Tuesday: McDonald’s Changeables

My family and I just got back from a nice vacation at my parents’ lake house in Michigan. While there, I went through a lot of my things that were packed up from our old house that I hadn’t seen in around a decade. I came back with a backpack full of great material for future blog posts, but also spotted an old favorite that I wanted to include here on TCT: McDonald’s Changeables. These were little robot-like toys that came in Happy Meals that took a page or ten from the Transformers playbook.

I’ve got to say, while I don’t remember the actual commercial above, it’s pretty darn impressive. They fully went for the T-Formers vibe and would have easily tricked Young Me into thinking that these were actually part of the Robots In Disguise’ Universe. This spot was more in line with what I remember from those days. Less animated, but still fun.

As it happens, one of my favorite pop culture blogs Dinosaur Dracula just did a post about the three sets of toys that you should definitely go check out if the above commercial gave you all kinds of flashbacks. I had no idea they did three different waves, but do have a few still hanging around including the Big Breakfast and Styrofoam container burger guy. The fry guy has a prominent place on my desk when my daughter doesn’t make off with him.

mcdonalds changeables fry robot

Toy Commercial Tuesday: Muppet Babies Double Whammy

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Muppet Babies lately. Part of that is because I recently re-listened to The Muppets soundtrack and then watched the movie again, but also because I heard Dave Coulier on a recent episode of Talkin’ Toons With Rob Paulsen and he apparently did a lot of those voices. I mentioned in a post how I realized most of my Muppets knowledge comes from the animated adventures of their younger selves. I wish the series was available on DVD so I could show my kid. I remember it being pretty fun with plenty of movie, TV and book parodies to help introduce her to a different generation of entertainment.

The last piece of the recent Muppet Babies puzzle was the fact that my in-laws gave my daughter a little toy Fozzy toy that I remember coming with McDonald’s Happy Meals way back in the day. So, I figured that would make for an interesting TCT. The commercial’s definitely an interesting animal. It’s from Canada, so I’m not sure if it’s different than the one that ran in the States (I have no memories of this particular one). However, I do remember these toys. I had quite a few and even realized that the Fozzy my inlaws actually gave Lu came with Kermit’s skateboard instead of his horse. Funny how the two pieces were in close proximity to each other all these years.

As an added bonus, check out the above McD’s commercial for the Christmas-themed stuffed Kermit, Miss Piggy and Fozzy. I want to say all three of these are living in a box somewhere in my parents’ house. I don’t have much to say about this one aside from the fact that the tiny box in the beginning of the commercial could have probably been placed a little better. Did Ronald McDonald beat the Lonely Island and Justin Timberlake to a joke by a few decades? “Step one, cut a hole in the box…”

80s Odyssey: Mac And Me (1988)

I owe Paul Rudd one. I was watching Conan one day last week (Thursday, maybe) and Rudd was on to promote his upcoming movie Our Idiot Brother, a movie I’m actually really looking forward to seeing. The interview went well with laughs being had all around and then, when they threw to the clip of the flick, instead we got a clip of a kid in a wheel chair falling off a cliff into a lake and then a weird alien popping up on the screen. It was from an 80s E.T.-esque flick called Mac and Me. Apparently, Rudd has pulled this gag a number of times on Conan’s various shows.

While I had never seen M&M as a kid, I do remember the poster from various video stores growing up. A few months back, when I was on a huge 80s movie kick, I added it to the top of my Netfllix Instant queue and eventually got to it. (Speaking of which, I just realized I never got around to writing about Littler Monsters, which was actually a fun, weird and original movie.) The film has been panned for being an E.T. ripoff (which it is in many ways) and for being drenched in product placement (also true), but I thought it had a kind of quirky charm that kept my attention throughout the movie’s 95 minutes.

Here’s the story. A family of aliens are hanging out on their planet which is pretty desolate when a NASA probe lands and literally vacuums them up. Unaware of this, NASA brings a family of aliens back to Earth who promptly escape with the youngest hopping into a family’s minivan. The alien, dubbed Mac, winds up revealing himself to the kids (a younger brother in a wheelchair and the older one played by Douglas from Charles in Charge!), but the mom doesn’t believe them. Eventually the neighbor girls get involved as well and the kids head off to the desert with Mac to find his family who aren’t doing so well.

The E.T. comparisons are impossible to ignore. From the single mom with two boys to the scene where government guys are chasing kids on wheeled vehicles (this one utilizes the wheelchair instead of bikes), it’s pretty obvious that they were using Steven Spielberg’s flick as a guide. Heck small spherical candies even come into play (Skittles here, Reese’s Pieces in E.T.). This might sound strange, but I actually preferred a few of the changes in plot that the M&M folks made. I kind of like seeing Mac with his family in the beginning of the film. Sure, it sets up the emotional impact of him being estranged from his family in a more in-your-face manner, but I dug it. I also liked the gonzo ending, though I’m not sure how appropriate it is for kids (SPOILER, it involves cops shooting one of the aliens). There’s also less melodrama in the proceedings, which, depending on my mood, can be preferable.

Overall, though, the film definitely falls into the so-bad-it’s-good category. The above changes were interesting, but as a whole the movie’s still a rip off and super corny. Plus, there’s all the product placement I mentioned. McDonald’s plays HEAVILY into the events of the movie. Not only does the older girl-next-door work there (never seeming to take her ugly green uniform shirt off) but there’s also an extended dance scene that takes place in one of the restaurants under the auspices of a birthday party. Oh, plus, the aliens only seem to eat Skittles and Coca Cola, which are always positioned towards the camera so you know exactly what they’re eating or drinking.

If you are a fan of bad movies, I can’t recommend a flick more. Get some friends together, make up a drinking game (drink once every time you see a product name, twice anytime McDonald’s appears or is mentioned, finish your drink when the teddy bear dances, etc.) and have a blast!

Toy Commercial Tuesday: McDonald’s Super Mario Bros. 3

I intended to shine my meager spotlight on the commercial from Marvel’s Secret Wars with the crazy vehicles, but it wouldn’t load. And, when things don’t load right away on YouTube, I’m three other videos deep by the time it would have taken for that first one to load. That’s what got me to this commercial for the Super Mario Bros. 3 toys from McDonald’s. If memory serves, I had both the flipping Goomba and the suction/spring Mario. Better yet, I remember going and getting my copy of Super Mario Bros. 3 from Toys R Us. It was the first day it came out and we had one of those papers with the name of the game on it that you had to take up to the register and switch out (along with some money) for the game. It was really early and I was 7. If Wikipedia is to be believed and I really was there on the first day, that would have put this all on February 12, 1990, 6 days after my birthday. What an awesome birthday present. I am a huge fan of that game, and how mind blowing were the frog, raccoon and Tanooki suits? Very cool, but not as cool as the hard-to-find Hammer Brother Mario suit. As a kid I spent big chunks of time drawing those characters. Anyway, I loved Super Mario Bros. and am having an awesome time playing my way through New Super Mario Bros. Wii which I am loving at every turn. None of which has much to do with these toys themselves, but I figured I’d get that story out now instead of later when I’m talking about the Wii game, which I can then link back to this. Kinda meta, right?