Tag Archives: Retro Toys

Celebrating 35 Years Of McDonald’s Halloween Buckets

Celebrating 35 Years Of McDonald's Halloween Buckets

Halloween in the eighties ruled. Being born in 1982, this allowed me to live most of my childhood throughout the glorious decade, following being an angsty pre-teen during the Grudge era, and ending my adolescent years as the Class of 2000. I feel pretty lucky to have experienced these monumental changing of the tides; but one thing that has changed too much and I fondly miss, is the way Halloween WAS growing up. Most people could attribute that to, “eh, it’s never the same as when you were a child”; which is of course, true. However, some Halloween traditions should never have gone away- and that one is the McDonald’s Halloween Buckets.

I’ll never forget the first commercial I saw for these national treasures. It was during a CBS airing for Garfield’s Halloween Adventure, which I uploaded in it’s entirety WITH that commercial in the most cringe way possible, but hey, I tried. Anyways, I along with all other kids my age became obsessed. With the arrival of October meant shopping for noisy plastic costumes with masks at our local Sav-On drugstore, Halloween community carnivals, Halloween parades at school, and of course McBoo and friends.

The orange bucket Happy Meals that originally were released in 1986, resembled that of a pumpkin and had a variety of three available; McPunk’n, a traditional jack-o-lantern face; McBoo, a ghost face; and McGoblin, the “scariest” of the three- which is the one I still have to this day!

The buckets themselves were nowhere near large enough to take on a night of heavy tricks or treats, but they sure were great storage pails and maintained a versatile function for the past 30 years. This little bastard went from holding my Polly Pockets and stickers in the 80s’, to pins, hair accessories, and makeup in my teenage 90s’, and circling back today in 2021, where I actually use it to hold my rather large collection of face masks. Not a terrifying Halloween mask by any means, but considering everything, they’re just as scary these days.

While most know to believe the Halloween buckets weren’t available until 1986, that’s not actually entirely accurate. McDonald’s ran a test promotion in the Boston and New York area with prototypes of several Halloween Happy Meal Buckets from October 11 thru October 31, 1985 . After a successful run, they were introduced nationally in 1986. They came back the following year after but for some reason were absent in 1988. Then in 1989, the buckets got a mild makeover with McBoo turning white and a new friend- the McWitch, complete with pointy hat on the lid!

In 1990, the buckets added some glow in the dark flair to the designs, while changing the faces entirely to a more cartoonish look- one that I personally think is less than the originals, but not a bad second-place prize if these are the ones you had. In 1991, the buckets were replaced by vinyl glow-in-the-dark trick or treat bags, which get a LOT OF SHIT by Halloween bucket lovers, but I actually used this fucker for trick-or-treating and it served me well. The handles seem pretty flimsy, but this bastard held up for a full bag filled with Tootsie Rolls and Mr. Bones. So I can’t hate on them.

To keep in with the now tradition of refreshing the successful Halloween product, 1992 saw another makeover to McPunk’n, McBoo, and McWitch with minor facial changes, but with the addition of a new cookie cutter lid!

And that my friends, was the last time we got a quality McDonalds Halloween Bucket. After taking yet, another hiatus in 1993, the pails came back, with a more “modern” makeover that just sort of plain sucked. McWitch looked like an angry cartoon drunk, and even though they still had the cool cookie cutters, it seemed less magical than their predecessors.

After this monumental modern fuck-up, the pails again disappeared until 1999, when they came back only as a duo, with no more spoopy faces. Instead we got Halloween scenes that wrapped around the bucket featuring Mcdonald Land characters. On the upside, the cookie cutters were still there.

In 2001, the quality diminished further and the cookie cutter lids were abolished entirely. We got the same cartoonish scenes around the pail, but we got bat handles instead on the lid now- which although sort of cool, were so damn uncomfortable, cutting into your palms like Shakaka the Great White Bat trying to escape Ace Ventura’s hands while running through the jungle.

In 2010, Mr. Potato Head was apparently spooky enough to get a themed Halloween pail. This is where the downfall of a soft society began folks.

The 2011 pails were somewhat of a return to nostalgia with a pumpkin or a monster face, along with the again, gnarly bat handles. But that was the last time we would see Halloween faced pails at all. Following years brought cartoon themed buckets such as Scooby-Doo, Monster High, and eventually Minions pails. Then, the year that ended it all in 2016, the pails made their final appearance with It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown– in which I guess if they’re gonna go out, at least it’s with a Halloween classic and not a damn Potato Head toddler toy.

It’s been 35 years since the nostalgic Halloween buckets entered our childhood Halloween fantasies and while these little pieces of big corporate plastic may seem trivial, they serve as a staple of fond Halloween memories for the kids of past generations. It would seem fitting if indeed, McDonalds celebrated this milestone with a grand return of McBoo and friends, however, I haven’t heard of any plans to do so. McDonald’s was once, the king of fast food Halloween and no one did better promotions for the favorable holiday than the french fry giants. I’m not sure what’s happened in recent years that the company has turned the cold shoulder to our beloved holiday, but it’s almost as if it’s become a traumatic break-up with an abusive ex. They barely acknowledge the holiday even exists anymore. In any regard, I’ve championed for the comeback for as long as I can remember, and I’ll never stop fighting the good fight.

Unearthed Video of Complete Walkthrough of Toys ‘R’ Us Circa 1991!

A few months ago, I shared a video I had discovered on the YouTubes of a short, but quite satisfying clip of footage shot inside a Toys ‘R’ Us shot in 1989. While it indeed induced sweet memories of running up and down the aisles searching for the prefect Ninja Turtle, it had us clamoring for more. Low and behold, the Gods of Geoffrey have bestowed the ultimate treasure for us nostalgic nuggets- a complete twenty-minute video walkthrough of the once gold mine of toys and games that will have you oozing nostalgia from your eye sockets!

The raw footage is filmed inside a Manhattan Toys’ R’ Us at Herald Center in New York the day before Thanksgiving, showcasing the Christmas season’s hottest toys and giving an inch on the dreaded Black Friday for most parents. It’s pretty amazing this video exists and it’s as if some random someone 30 years ago just picked up a video camcorder and started shooting knowing people like us today would be creaming our pants over this type of stuff. All I can think to say is, this person is a damn hero.

Brought to us courtesy of YouTube Channel btm0815ma, the reel highlights the best of the best and everything we can possibly remember from this now relic as children. We get a complete nostalgic gut-punch with WWF wrestling buddies and WCW figures, Ninja Turtles with Technodrome playsets, the universe of Barbie, and Lego sets of yesteryear! We also get to roam the bike aisles, (tell me I’m not the only asshole who rode those around the store) and I even caught a glimpse of those Universal Monsters PVC bendy figures!

Also, can we appreciate that the recorder spent a good amount of time in the World of Nintendo? Memories of taking those yellow tickets up to the counter to get your coveted game to take home to scream at that night was one of the greatest feelings in the early 90s’. We even get a shot of ballsy woman taking a Gameboy out of its original packaging to get a closer look at it!

Fantastic.

Then, we end the video with a thorough guided process of checking out and walking out into the streets of the city with a panoramic shot of the once beautiful Toys ‘R’ Us monument. It truly is, one of the coolest videos I’ve seen in a long time and proper high-fives to this Youtuber for unearthing this gem and sharing it to the world!

Enjoy as much as I did Nostalgic Nuggets!

Nightmare Nostalgia Presents: 1990’s Hottest Holiday Toys- With Commercials!

NIGHTMARE NOSTALGIA PRESENTS: 1990'S HOTTEST HOLIDAY TOYS!

Like the majority of us adults, some of my favorite memories as a kid were the magic of the holidays. Sitting around watching glorious Christmas specials. Grandma’s magnificent Italian seafood dinner spread consisting of Linguini with clams, Clams Oreganata, and the classic eight-hour gravy for the non-fish folks (like me) with mussels on the side. AND of course, all the goddamn wonderful Christmas toys.

1990 was a banner year for some of the hottest toys and games on the market that holiday season. As we’re all aware, many toys are derived from pop-culture entertainment and with such films like Beetlejuice, Batman, and the explosion of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles warping our minds on the heels of their late ’89 and ’90 releases, companies like Mattel and Kenner were in no short supply of marketing campaigns for the 1990 Christmas catalogs.

In full disclosure, I never write about what I can’t either recollect from my own memories, or fill in from other family members so every damn thing on this list is something I or my brother either received for the holidays that oh-so-far-away-feeling of 30 years ago! So if there’s something you’d love to add to this list, by all means comment below and tell me about YOUR favorite Christmas toy from 1990!

My Pretty Ballerina

Credit: Popsugar

Oh man, I vividly remember receiving this dancing delight under the tree that year. My Pretty Ballerina was a beautifully made doll made by TYCO that twirled around in a circle and walked around on her tippy toes along to her cassette and dancer pole (heh) that came with each doll. Although she was stunning in her little pink tutu and fun to play with, she was NOT a doll to sleep with at night as I ALSO vividly recall nearly poking my damn eye out with that rose glued to her hand.

Red Ryder ain’t got shit on My Pretty Ballerina.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (3rd Series)

Playmates and Croner weren’t messing around with the blockbuster release of the first TMNT that year and OF COURSE went balls deep in creating another line of figures for the holidays. This year in particular harvested a RIDICULOUSLY extraordinary amount of turtle merch, including Undercover Donatello there along with Samurai Leo, Surfer Michelangelo, and Space Cadet Raphael. Along with an abundance of vehicles and playsets, let’s highlight the radical Party Wagon in particular.

Beetlejuice Creepy Cruiser

NIGHTMARE NOSTALGIA PRESENTS: 1990'S HOTTEST HOLIDAY TOYS!

Oh man, that Kenner line of Beetlejuice toys were unbelievably fun to play with. The “Ghost with the Most” dominated holiday toy competitors in 1990 along with TMNT a year after the box-office theatrical release of the film. And with the various strange and unusual pieces you could buy adding on to your collection, it wasn’t hard to see why. While there were many options to choose from in the line, The Creepy Cruiser was the holy grail of Netherworld vehicles in 1990.

By the way, check out my Welcome Page– I still have my talking Beetlejuice Kenner doll in the original box! It’s no creepy cruiser, but let me just have this moment.

Internet Lurker

New Kids on the Block Action Figures

Blastfromthepasttoys

If you weren’t hangin’ tough with one or ALL FIVE of these Hasbro produced figures of the biggest band of 1990, you were nothing and may as well never leave your house again. Well, according to nine-year-old-girl logic anyway. And you better have that stage, mics, and the phone too. Also, having those interview cassettes that came with each doll pretty much drove your playground points up as well.

Batman Dark Knight Collection

Like Beetlejuice, yet another historical, nostalgic film of 89′ launched a toyline that exploded in 1990. The almighty Kenner was responsible for the glorious Batcave, Batmobile, and figures that some of us still treasure to this very day. I have to admit, when my brother got the Bat Jet and JokerCycle under the tree that year along with the Batcave he already had obtained for his birthday, I snatched that thing and was shooting that Joker face off at everything I possibly could-including my poor brother’s face, heh. Meh. I was a jerk big sister but weren’t we all!

WWF Action Figures

Listen, our household took wrestling very seriously. So much so we had a GARBAGE CAN full of these guys! Every single one was obtained and the answer is yes- we had the ring as well which made for some great Royal Rumbles. Hasbro marketed these guys well as we weren’t the only kids dashing to Toys R Us for the new Ultimate Warrior variant.

Dr. Mario

Nintendo still hot on the market along with the infamous Nintendo World Championships of 1990 throwing the company into legendary status with our generation, Dr. Mario was released for the NES just in time for everyone with a system to put one on their holiday list. The 215 stage game for the pre-med puzzle thinker was a Saturday well spent in my childhood!

And speaking of Nintendo…

Nintendo Game Boy

Ahh the good ol’ days when everyone was hooked on Dr. Mario and Tetris on the go with Game Boy! Technically, the 8-bit then sorcery phenomenon was released a year prior. However, it was still number one on a LOT of holiday lists that year and sales were booming; making last-minute parents run around like a dizzy ex-governor of California looking for one!

Lil’ Miss Magic Jewels

The Lil’ Miss line from Mattel ran from 1989-1993 with several different variants including a magic mermaid and the original Miss Makeup (which yes I totally owned). Along with this little jeweled treasure that I bet a lot of you forgot about! Bedazzling your doll and your own hair with that wand was all the rage at the beginning of the decade. However, pulling those Velcro jewels out of your ponytail hurt like HELL and would pull out your own hair if the jewels were to close to the roots.

Here’s to going bald in 1990!

Happy Holidays Nostalgic Nuggets! Comment below with your favorite toy or memory from that year! Or hell, any year! Let’s get a good nostalgic conversation going!