All it takes is a whiff of frying grease. Perhaps for you, it’s the salty kiss of packaged ketchup, or the waxy yet somehow life-affirming consistency of half-molten cheese. Whatever your poison is, it’s usually an express ticket to childhood memories of popping open a Burger King kids meal. Of course, more precisely, it could have been a King Jr. or BK Big Kid’s meal. They had a tendency to evolve over the years.
Regardless of the branding gimmick, there were always three things you could count on: something fried, something greasy, and a brand new toy. And that last bit, the toy, was the defining component of the whole experience.
But what you couldn’t rely on was the toy you actually got, or which one they were tossing in at any given time. It was always a game of chance, a flip of the coin, house rules. It was a gamble. And as gambling goes, sometimes you got the short end of the stick.
Once in a while, it was a little worse than the short end of the stick. You could wind up with a thorough disappointment, or in the worst cases, something a bit too dangerous for a kid of your age. Burger King found themselves in hot water more than once over quality and safety concerns when it comes to their kids meal toys, and rest assured, we’ve included one or two such controversies in the list below!
30 Worst: Backstreet Boys Cyber Crusaders (2000)
There’s quite a bit to unpack here. To sum it all up, Backstreet Boys' Nick Carter approached Stan Lee about getting his crew transformed into superheroes and running a series of comic books around that concept. Not one to play games with a man’s heart, Mr. Lee accepted the challenge.
They only ran a single issue, but the Boys wanted it that way, and soon said good-bye to the remarkably awkward marketing venture. However, they left behind a veritable treasure trove of painfully cringeworthy merchandise, such as these Burger King exclusive action figures.
29 Worst: Pokémon (1999)
The figures themselves were actually pretty neat. And hey, they’re Pokémon. Perennially cool. Seems like a given, right? So why are these guys on the list? Well, they were recalled after a tragic incident.
The problem is in the “Pokéball” containers enshrining your Pokémon. Once opened, each half could easily fit over a child’s nose, which some kids couldn't handle. Though initially resistant, Burger King recalled millions of these following the occurrence. They even offered a small order of fries in exchange for their return. It’s the thought that counts, right?
28 Worth A Fortune: Nintendo Superstars (2002)
Is there such a thing as a Nintendo collectible that won’t amass an incredible amount of value over the years? Probably not. These particular toys look like a blast, too. They’re rich with features and interactivity. Not to mention “superstars” being an incredibly apt choice of words, given the lineup.
This motley crew of Nintendo’s usual suspects rings up $65.
But being such a tempting prospect when it comes to playtime, one must wonder just how many of them actually survived the past sixteen years unscathed?
27 Worst: Shrek 2 (2004)
If you managed to escape the Shrek craze, we know a few rock enthusiasts that would like to know exactly which one you were living under.
Regardless of your opinion on the meme factory we know and love today, this run of promotional toys for Shrek 2 left quite a bit to be desired. It’s a fairly dinky assortment of keepsakes lacking in the interactivity department, and we only really get a peek or two of the big green man himself.
26 Worst: Mr. Potato Head (1998)
Looking back, isn’t it more than a little weird that you munched down your fries while he looked on, with a big, goofy smile on his face? We're just saying that this is an odd stylistic choice, to say the least.
It’s hard to imagine a kid being disappointed with a Mr. Potato Head. You could put his ears in the wrong place, turn his eyeballs upside down, whatever weirdness struck your fancy. But these didn’t touch the original.
And he’s hanging out with a bunch of french fries. It’s weird, okay?
25 Worth A Fortune: Toy Story (1996)
Given how popular and omnipresent this Pixar smash hit was during our respective childhoods, you may have some issues locating one in good condition, much less in the packaging. Chances are, most recipients tore them open and went to town as soon as they could. You might be one of them, and you might be filled with regret.
Because collectors have picked these up for as much as $42.99.
That may be a little bit less than infinity, or beyond, but it’s still a pretty considerable pile of change for a relatively small collection.
24 The Worst: WWE (2010)
Being perfectly honest, wrestling collectibles are a pretty solid investment at any age. But look at these guys. Striking a medium between a vaguely threatening manly toughness and a cuddly stuffed toy (they also talk when you squeeze ‘em!) leaves one feeling rather bewildered with what, exactly, they’re supposed to be doing with these.
Can you really see yourself cuddling a stuffed Undertaker to sleep at night? Nevermind. Don’t answer that.
23 Worth A Fortune: Spongebob: Lost In Time (2005)
He lives in a pineapple under the sea, and he’s got the potential to make you as rich as a thief. Right, so that isn’t how the song goes. But it’s kind of catchy. Not to mention absolutely true.
If you’ve got a set lying around, they might be worth $110.
While a true Squarepants fanatic might have some qualms separating from such beloved representations of their favorite yellow sponge through various periods of historical antiquity, the prospect of filling their square pockets with cold, hard cash might just be a sweet enough deal.
22 The Worst: Fantastic 4: Rise Of The Silver Surfer (2007)
Ah, the Fantastic Four. No matter how much love they get from their niche fanbase, their Hollywood exploits always seem to end in disaster.
The toys they spawn must share in their luck.
What’s with the weird, oversized, deformed hands? It would make sense for Thing, but for all of them? And what’s up with the virtual entirety of the Silver Surfer’s freakish anatomy? It feels like there were a few artistic liberties taken here that didn’t quite pan out. Maybe they were shooting for more of a comic book style, but it just ended up looking strange.
21 THE WORST: Rugrats Treehouse Collection (2000)
Nickelodeon has had a longterm relationship with children’s fast food, spanning decades, so it should be less than surprising to see the Rugrats pop up when you look into the toys.
The complaint with this bunch is less about the quality or interest level, but more about the idea that this set practically begged you to complete it. It just doesn’t look right until assembled. And the sheer randomness associated with getting the toy you wanted could get both frustrating and pricey. Doubly so if you were on the parent's end of the equation.
20 Worth A Fortune: Lord Of The Rings: Fellowship Of The Rings (2001)
These were highly detailed and pretty well sculpted. If you could manage to snag the whole collection, they fit together into a neat sort of diorama set piece that is sure to kindle the envy of even your nerdiest comrades.
If you can muster up the willpower to sell, you might get $58.
And given the obsessive, almost Gollum-level dedication of your average Tolkien fan, is anyone really that shocked? Precious as they are, it may be difficult to resist fattening your bank account a little.
19 Worst: Twilight: Eclipse (2010)
Yes, the vampiric mania that seized and held fast the fickle heartstrings of nearly every tween girl across and beyond the globe hopped onto the King’s shoulders too.
The most bothersome aspect of this series of kids meal inserts is the fact that they aren’t really even toys more than they’re a collection of baubles with branding slapped onto them. The operative term in “kids meal” is “kids.” They aren’t “young adult vampire enthusiast luncheons.”
At least we managed to dodge a partnership with Clamato for this one.
18 Worst: Trolls (2017)
Ah, finally! Some merch to accompany the 90s-era throwback film that everyone totally asked for!
Outside of the hallmark wild, ratty, neon dyed mops sprouting from their heads, they really don’t appear to do a whole lot, do they? Burger King even tried to sweeten the deal by tossing in a few sheets of stickers to combat the absolute lack of interactivity. It’s as if they realized they really weren’t giving the kids much to work with here. Even a tiny comb would have offered this pick a redeeming quality.
17 Worth A Fortune: Star Wars: Episode III (2005)
Here we have another set of Funko Pop lookalikes, but this time hailing from the Star Wars universe. Though they launched supporting one of the most universally disliked entries in the saga, the collection did include a few classic throwbacks, and accumulated a significant value. Besides, we're looking at Star Wars fans here. You do the math.
It’s a big collection, but the entirety could net you $60.
Getting all thirty-one pieces together in good condition might be an arduous undertaking, but the Force is with you. Always.
16 Worst: Wild Wild West (1999)
Let’s be honest, no one remembers anything about this movie apart from the headache-inducing track leading man Will Smith-produced to accompany it. Did we really need collectibles to commemorate it? There was a big robot spider thing, Salma Hayek was there, I think. Probably some other dudes.
Unfortunately, promo toys rarely exceed the quality of their source material, and this run of figurines is no exception to the rule. There’s no doubt they wound up collecting dust at the bottom of your toy box.
15 Worst: Angry Birds (2017)
It’s difficult to imagine a world in which there was more room for Angry Birds. But lo and behold, it seems that we live in one. We could go on, but let’s talk about the toys themselves.
Any kid picking one of these up is more likely to just want to borrow your phone and play the actual game. Or pester you for a more authentic piece of merchandise from your local Wal-Mart. Though that might actually be the goal in mind with this selection, aside from the obvious movie tie-in.
14 Worst: Beetlejuice (1989)
“No, not Beetlejuice,” your inner child cries, “Why would you include Beetlejuice on this list?!”
Nostalgia aside, there’s something a bit off when it comes to the artistry here. Sure, it is Beetlejuice, they’re supposed to look weird. But the whole quality aspect here just smacks of “rushed promotional material” and it is hard to get over, especially when you spend a few seconds too many looking over the main man’s face.
It’s a little creepy, and not in the way that it is supposed to be.
13 Worth A Fortune: NFL Miniature Jerseys (2007)
If anyone’s bound to give your standard collectible nerd a run for his money, it’s a sports superfan. Burger King spun these miniature jerseys out in cahoots with the NFL, and football fans seem to dig them pretty well.
After all, they’re willing to blow $75 on a set.
So if you’re one of the superfans we’re talking about, lucky you! It may be high time to retire these guys, take the proceeds and fund your next tailgate event.
12 Worst: Furby (2005)
Again, Burger King seems to have a direct line to the things that fuel our nightmares. As if the real thing weren’t enough, the King started chucking these cheap imitation Furbies out with every kid’s meal purchase to cash in on the craze while it was still hot.
Burger King missed out on the whole “fur” part of the Furby, opting for a less than cuddly hard plastic format, and did very little to emulate the behaviors of the original. Maybe we’re setting our expectations too high, but these little guys just aren’t too exciting.
11 Worst: Spiderman III (2006)
If you’re going to latch onto what was probably the universally worst Spider-Man film for some marketing clout, the least you could do is include an emo Peter Parker figurine that reenacts some of those ludicrously sick dance moves. Honestly, that inclusion might have secured this collection a seat among the best Burger King toys to have ever existed.
And while that’s a perfectly valid complaint all on its lonesome, the toys just don't seem to have a whole lot going for them. They shoot for the whole Funko Pop figurine appeal but fall short of the mark.
10 Worst: The Land Before Time (1997)
Yep, yep, yep! Littlefoot, Ducky and the gang won a hard-earned place in the hearts of many 90’s kids. They were cute, they were dinosaurs, and nowadays they’re pretty valuable if you dig them out of your ancient toy bin.
The price tag comes to $49 for your prehistoric pals.
Not bad at all for a measly six-piece collection! Just resist the urge to test out that wind-up action. You might be able to pull it off without tearing the plastic, but you’re better safe than sorry. Trust us.
9 Worst: Teletubbies (1999)
Burger King really must see something in the absolute creepiest side of children’s fare, because it is certainly becoming a running theme here.
Can much more be said, in earnest? They’re Teletubbies. And compared to their televised counterparts, they really don’t do much. The only saving grace is the absence of that gigantic, giggling, flame wreathed sun-baby god thing these fans appear to worship.
All told, they’re fair enough as children’s dolls go. But they didn’t provide you with many incentives to go out of your way and scoop up a kids meal at Burger King.
8 Worst: Simpsons Superheroes (2013)
The Simpsons have a relationship with Burger King that’s nearly as long as the show’s storied history itself.
With so many entries to choose from there, not all of them can be winners. In fact, BK had another run of the same concept that looked a lot better. But these strangely stubby excuses for toys seem to raise very little interest outside of the most hardcore collectors. The design doesn’t exactly scream “fun," and the awkward trashcan shape doesn't do much for aesthetics.
7 Worth A Fortune: The Simpsons Movie (2007)
As mentioned, the Simpsons have been hanging with the King for a long, long time. So you can bet that almost any development in the franchise, whether televised or filmed, will result in one promotion or another.
A set of these in good condition could nab an outrageous $135.
If you’re deep enough into the Simpson’s fandom to have a complete collection of these toys based on the movie, your dedicated nerdery has absolutely paid off a few times over.
6 Worst: Pocahontas Finger Puppets (1996)
While we could question why anyone would think finger puppets are a valid route into the hearts and minds of the youth circa 1996, let’s focus on the idea of finger puppets being distributed alongside the greasiest finger foods on this side of existence. Now that is a recipe for absolute disaster. One shudders to imagine what bacteria ended up festering within.
Back onto the topic of the finger puppets themselves, they’re… finger puppets. You’re going to have a rough time imagining a kid getting excited over receiving one.
5 Worst: Burger King's Grown-Up Toys (2017)
Though the buzz surrounding this 2017 marketing abomination was significantly overblown, and the threat far more localized than we were initially led to believe.
If you weren’t tuned in for it, the internet went berserk concerning a supposed Burger King Valentine’s Day promotion geared towards “adults.” The meal included two burgers, two orders of fries, two beers and an adult gift from among the selection featured above.
You might be expecting a 50 Shades of Grey tie-in here. But no such luck.
4 Worth A Fortune: Universal City Studios Monsters (1997)
A little bit outside of the ordinary when it comes to your standard fast food promotional items, these horror classics are bound to catch an eye or two if you’ve got them out on your shelf. They're cool, interactive, and come with neat extras. They'll also catch a few greenbacks if you’re in the selling mood.
If you’ve got the set, they could boost your wallet by $50.
But for the real horror aficionados among us, is that really enough incentive to give up your creepy conversation pieces?
3 Worst: Hourglass Space Sprout (2001)
You might be thinking, “This is obviously a toddler’s toy. What gives, man?”
And you’re entirely correct! They’re practically baby toys. They seem pretty harmless and entirely unworthy of scrutiny. Right?
Wrong. Several incidents led to them being branded a hazard, and recalled.
The rattle was fragile, and the beads often spilled out to create a choking hazard. Burger King really seems to have some difficulty scoring points in the arena of child safety. But good on them for pulling these little contraptions out of the rotation before they hurt somebody.
2 Worst: BK Kids Club Bug Riders (1998)
Burger King got a little meta with its children’s advertising by incorporating an in-house cast of, well, kids that were cooler than you.
They did cool stuff, had cool names like “Kid Vid” and “Wheels,” and incorporated a carefully selected spread of races, genders, and even disabilities to win out on the diversity shuffle. That much, you have to admit, was actually pretty thoughtful.
For this run of toys, the cool kids were sitting around being cool one day, but they got bored with that. So they decided to ride bugs. That’s it. Some really cool kids on some really big bugs. Lame.
1 Worth A Fortune: Pokémon 23-karat Gold Plated Cards (1999)
In addition to looking amazing, these twenty-three karat gold plated Pokémon collectibles have accumulated an incredible amount of value over the years. Granted, they don’t do much as far as toys go, although the Pokéball display case each one comes with is pretty awesome.
A complete set of these can pocket you a solid $135.
If you’re lucky enough to have these tucked away, make sure you’ve got the original packaging! It makes all the difference when it comes to selling them. That’s if you can bear to part with your swag. They’re arguably one of the coolest items offered as a Burger King promotion.