Super Mario Happy Meal Toys

SM_MCI bought a plastic sack of Super Mario toys for eight bucks so now I’m gonna write about that.


I love Super Mario. I’ve spent decades playing through this plump plumber’s adventures. And that’s not just nostalgia speaking. Mario games have a history of being innovative, timeless, and fun. He’s viewed as the Mickey Mouse of video games without becoming a soulless corporate mascot hellbent on absorbing everything you cherish for profit.

Mario simply stands a quiet chubby Italian man who loves jumping on everything. And, deep down, aren’t we all ? Click for a picture of me as Super Mario from 13 years ago. Not from Halloween or anything either. Just living life.

So when you’re at a flea market and come across a ziplock of mysterious Super Mario toys for $10, you offer $8. And when you get that ziplock of Super Mario toys for $8, you go home and you write about it for your sad decrepit website damn it.

SMB1
Note: NES, Bowser, and Goomba added for pure A E S T H E T I C S

Research revealed this is a complete set of Super Mario toys featured in McDonald’s Happy Meals back in August of 2018. Retro? Definitely not, but covering the Super Mario Bros 3 Happy Meal toys at this point is beating a dead horse. And I happen to like my horses alive…and thriving…and quietly drinking water midday from a wooded creek. That’s how I like my horses. Anyway the Mario toys…

SMB2
I would have easily snuck one of these in my pencil case when I was a kid as a reminder of my freedoms in the outside world.

My favorite Happy Meal toys as a kid were barebones action figures. This is because I’d incorporate them with my non-Happy Meal action figures for what can only be described as Epic Playtime Crossover-Battles™ that predate the Cinematic Universe craze by decades. Yet 2018’s Super Mario toys are games in their own right featuring a pinball game, a maze game, and a Rubix cube-like puzzle game. My favorite being the 8 bit throwback pinball game which can give you seconds of fun.  These are all well made and cool, but unlike the good ‘ol days, I can’t have one of these fight my Robocop. I probably could though honestly.

SMB4
Note: Yoshi is supposed to be in a cloud of smoke. But it indeed looks like he is melting into my Nintendo. I like both explanations.

 Ah, now we’re getting action-figurey! Yoshi “dashes” with the help of his little plastic launcher. He comes with two token targets. Luigi is the same gist with better execution. He comes with a little Goomba and Koopa Troopa target. You put that plastic “fireball” in his hand, wind him back, and he hurls it at those nerds. It’s also pretty rare to get a Fireflower version of Luigi. Especially one that looks so salty. You can possibly make your own targets…like Mario himself…to really further the jealously that fuels the sibling rivalry.

SMB3
Mario without his hat is like Dracula without his cape. They just become regular dudes.

Don’t worry, there are Mario toys in the Super Mario lot. On the left there’s addictive gambler Mario, where you push his head into a Slot Machine question mark block to test your luck. The Florida Gambling Council actually tried to get this toy recalled  as they stated it’s “marketing gambling to children.” Mind you, This is coming from the same state known for an enormous theme park that promises more money more “magic”. And then there’s “Hat Toss” Mario. He operates like “Salty Flame Luigi” but instead tosses his hat onto a target. Think of it as “Manchild Floor Darts” but it comes with a smashed cheeseburger and french fries. Not too shabby. And you also get another rare figure: Hatless Mario. Which is cool and all, but the hat makes the man.

SMB5
Is this the best toy? YES. Did I play this alone? YES. Did I realize how sad it looked from a different perspective? YES.

This one is my favorite: YOSHI BINGO. It’s a legit game of bingo with Mario inspired flippable cards, little punch pieces, and a radical Yoshi “spinner” to play. That spinner makes it. It’s creative and it’s a game that takes more than 30 seconds to play.  It’s a fun gateway to introduce your kids to a game they’ll be taking way too seriously about 70 years down the road. Do you think we’ll have Happy Meals still?


The Good: 

  • Solid variety of features/games
  • Very well made. Better than a lot of the small in-store Mario toys.
  • Video Game Characters are “games” themselves. What a concept!
  • I got these for $1 per toy. Not sure how many gold coins that is.

The Bad: 

  • Not Enough Mario characters (Bowser? Peach? Toad? Donkey Kong?)
  • Rubix Cube Puzzle thing is clearly the least cool toy
  • Yoshi Dasher doesn’t “shoot” very far (He was never a runner though)

In conclusion, for a cheap impulse buy and being a big Mario fan…these were really interesting and fun to examine and play. The toys themselves are studier with better paint applications than what I’ve seen in stores. It’s always fun to see where Happy Meal toys are nowadays. Nothing can replace the ones when I was a kid, but I think it’s fair to say that’s nostalgia talking. These are way cooler and a lot of thought went into their designs. I don’t even know if kids play with physical toys nowadays or if a McDonald’s Happy Meal is something they’d crave, but I’d be begging my grandma to stop at the ‘ol Mickey D’s drive-thru for these guys without a doubt.

“Shut up, Christopher…” She’d say. “You need a toy like you need another hole in the head.”

Ah, childhood.

SMB6

Sig_2018_SMALL

Ad Nauseam: Genetix #2

Welcome back to “the short end of the stick” when it comes to reading things on the internet. In this edition of Ad Nauseam I digitally scrape the bottom of the barrel with Genetix #2 published in November 1993! This is time you’ll never get back, folks.

Genetix follows the adventures of a superhero group of experimental mutants published by Marvel UK that the internet has virtually no insight on. Even the official Marvel Database has no history on this team. I gathered the little information I could and what I present you with may just be the most 1990’s assortment of words you’ll read featured in an article about garbage: 

Genetix is a team of mutants recruited by Dr. Oonagh Mullarkey for Gena-Sys, the genetic research division of Mys-Tech. They wear implanted armor derived from the Digitek project. When Killpower was sent by the Time Guardian to locate a device called the Chronifact, Dr. Mullarkey sent the newly created Genetix to defeat him. The team was trained by Dark Angel after learning about the existence of super villain Death Metal whose goal was to (evilly) impregnate a team member.

Holy cow the things I waste my time on.

I can only assume that in 2018 they use shredded issues of Genetix to stuff the big Stewie dolls you see hanging at your local park district carnival. If there’s anything I love about comics from this era it’s definitely the technologic “language” used throughout. Take a computer part, throw a “Z” or “X” in there for attitude, and you got yourself a superhero.

This Summer in a Limited Series…The Adventures of RAM-X and DARK PROCEZZOR: Created by Science, Manufactured by Fate, rendered for Justice!  

So let’s dive deep into the shallow end of the comic pool and be concussed with the advertisements of yesteryear. And as we unconsciously float through the memories of 16 bit video games, lenticular trading cards, and junk food ask yourself: Do you want to be saved?

X-Men VHS!

Without a doubt, the X-Men were the premiere superhero team of the 1990s. 1991 brought the first new X-Men title in nearly 30 years by the hottest name in comics at the time: Jim Lee. ‘Till this day X-Men #1 is the highest selling comic issue of all time. With that launched the legendary X-Men arcade game, fantastic animated series, and tubular toy line. X-Men reigned supreme.

Here we have episodes of the animated series being sold on VHS tapes with covers done by Jim lee himself. Keep in mind this was long before a Marvel Cinematic Universe. So it was a real treat to read about the new adventures of the X-Men and be gifted a series that treated the characters and source material with the respect and seriousness that fans desperately craved. What I love about these tapes is they could be kept on the self alongside your comics without anyone batting an eye. They even came numbered like comic issues themselves.

Pizza Hut later offered some X-Men tapes with a minimalist approach that came with lenticular cards. And while those were cool, there’s something that’s so darn charming about the ones featured in this ad. The series itself was made with care and it’s clear that this presentation had the fans in mind. This VHS series would still look great on your shelf.

Mortal Kombat at K-Mart!

Holy macaroni. If there was something I loved more than X-Men when I was a kid, it was Mortal Kombat. Brutal, bloody, and beautiful there was simply no video game like it at the time. It was an arcade hit that caused outrage among parents that just led to kids scrounging up more quarters to play it. This ad in particular is for its release on home consoles such as Super Nes, Sega Genesis and portables like The Gameboy and Game Gear. And it was a long time coming.

I was lucky enough to receive Mortal Kombat as hand-me-down for my Super Nintendo. By that time an even better sequel had been released as well as the now infamous film. The ad claims, “For bone-shattering action, it’s K-Mart for Mortal Kombat!”. But why K-mart? Because “K” that’s why I would’ve loved an exclusive Mortal Kombat K-Mart level. Some Tecehnotronic playing in the background. You could battle over to the K-Cafe and throw hot coffee at Kano’s stupid terminator eyePerhaps a blue light special fatality? Endless possibilities here.

I love coming face to face with Goro in this ad. He scared the daylights out of me. The game really made a big deal about him rather than the actual boss: Shang Tsung. But, I mean, who would you rather battle in a murder tournament? A giant four armed demon wrestler or some old street tramp that sleeps behind a Chipotle?

WWF Royal Rumble Video Game!

Late 1993 was around the time I started watching professional wrestling and looking back it was pretty awful. The iconic Hulk Hogan was a mere part timer, Macho Man was “retired”, and Ultimate Warrior was dropped. The larger-than-life star power wasn’t really there. Don’t get me wrong I liked Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, and Razor Ramon but they hadn’t quite taken off just yet. And in the meantime I was being told Lex Luger, Yokozuna, and Bam Bam Bigelow were the best (Spoiler: They sucked.). I leaned more towards WCW in those days anyway, but WWF by far had the better video games. And that’s still not saying much. 

Basically WWF Royal Rumble was just like Super Wrestlemania. And WWF Raw was just like Royal Rumble. Imagine rebuying essentially the same mediocre WWF game 3 times just for some new wrestlers (that all play the same) and one new match type. Redundant and expensive, right? Actually doesn’t sound too different from what they do now. The advertisement also showcases WWF Steel Cage Challenge and WWF King of the Ring which were actually worse games by comparison. Yeah, it was a rough time for the WWF and while in the coming years they would enter a new golden era, the games still had a solid 7 years to suck.

But, back then, you made the best of it. If I got to play as The Undertaker and tombstone IRS into the mat as many times as I’d please, then it was worth it in my little child head.

Spider-man and X-Men Video Games!

Iron-Man, Thor, Ant-man and even Captain America weren’t truly mainstays in comic culture. Yeah, I said Captain AmericaIt may be hard to imagine that now but Spider-man and the X-Men were Marvel’s bread and butter in the 1990s. And that mostly has to do with the comics being written and/or the cartoons being produced at the time. So having them team up in a video game adventure was definitely exciting if you bathed in the comic bathtub at the time. But be careful, that bathtub can be slippery and these video games could not be very good.

And they weren’t very good.

I remember buying Spider-man/X-men: Arcade’s Revenge when stores were phasing out Super Nintendo games. The game was pretty tedious and bland. To play as Spider-man should be a unique and exciting experience. But instead you had to use your spider-sense (which sounded like hard bumbling farts) to collect flashing cupcakes to unlock the X-Men levels. When you played as Wolverine, who was at peak anti-hero popularity, you wandered a funhouse beating up robotic clowns. It’s like playing a Punisher game where you’re limited to picking up trash at a local park district. I believe the term nowadays is called “shovelware“. These characters deserved something much better. And to join forces to fight Arcade? I mean, you’ve got Mr. Sinister, Apocalypse, The Sinister Six, and Magneto but these superheroes have to join forces to fight the guy who runs Six Flags?


That about covers the time warp that Genetix #3 could take you on. I hope you got something out of me reminiscing about 25 year old game cartridges and VHS tapes. I’ll always be here presenting the best (worst?) of comic culture from a time when nearly every comic book inexplicably involved a cyborg.

Sig_2018_SMALL