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McDonald's Menu Brings Back a Fan Favorite (Catch 'Em All)

The fast-food chain made a surprise move that's going to make a lot of its customers happy (and nostalgic).

As an adult, it's hard not to look back on the day when meals came with a fun new toy. The toy was always the highlight of a trip to the nearby McDonald's  (MCD) . After kids finish their delicious meal (or more often before), just before they zoom away to climb through the McDonald's PlayPlace, there's always a moment of marvel as they stop to appreciate the plastic-wrapped treasure inside.

For those of us who grew up on Happy Meals, collecting all the toys in a series was a real status symbol in those formative years -- particularly if the toys interacted with each other. In the '90s, the need for the full lineup of Power Rangers toys was very real, and having all of them made kids feel like the tiny-tots version of a fine art collector. 

Now, for the third time in McDonald's history, the desire to "collect them all" reaches new heights when Happy Meal teams up with an iconic children's toy franchise. Not only are these new toys well known and loved, they're also giving kids a new way to play one of the most popular trading card games of the last several decades.

The fast-food chain has partnered with Pokemon to bring "Match Battles" to Happy Meals through Sept. 6.

Pokémon & McDonalds Team-Up: A New Way To Play

The Nintendo  (NTDOF)  owned Japanese character-battle card game Pokémon is returning to the Happy Meal to bring us Match Battle. It's a new way for kids to play their favorite trading card game! According to the Pokémon website, these figures come with their own set of rules so kids can battle their friends. Each Pokémon Happy Meal will come with:

  • a 4-card booster pack, which includes 1 foil card
  • 1 sheet of instructions to play the game
  • 1 collector's coin, used to determine the fate of your Pokémon battles
  • 1 themed spinner
  • 1 card box
  • and food, or whatever -- just give us the toys!

The Happy Meal box has also undergone a Pokémon makeover, so for a limited time, these boxes will come with Pikachu's cute little face on the front, complete with two little pop-out ears. The cards in the box will also feature some of the franchise's most popular characters. Customers can try to collect characters like Pikachu, Rowlet, Gossifleur, and more. 

Pokémon Happy Meals in High Demand

For the company's new Pokémon rollout, McDonald's is looking to get out ahead of a past problem when it comes to selling these collectible cards. The 2021 Pokémon promotion saw scalpers buying up the cards in bulk and then selling them online for inflated prices. After this happened in the U.S., U.K. stores limited sales of the toy to one additional per customer. This year’s rollout has already announced they’ll be using this strategy to prevent shortages and price hikes by third-party sellers.

Both McDonald’s and Burger King  (QSR)  have played host to Pokémon toys and promotional deals. In 1999, Burger King released a gold-plated Pokémon card. The gold cards were neat, and certainly fun and novel for the time, but they haven’t retained much value over the years. But at the time, thanks to scalpers, collectors may have paid much more than the cards are worth in order to obtain one. 

The Pokémon franchise will be introducing a new series of video games this fall, so this McDonald’s partnership is a great gear up for the IP. The popular fast food destination has seen a favorable increase in sales in recent months, even after raising menu prices. The return of this popular promotional event stands to boost sales for the upcoming season, which should make investors smile. Whether or not the limited sales will prevent these collectible cards from scalpers remains to be seen, but as for an investment in a new way for kids to play an old favorite? That's one investment that's sure to pay off.