Sorry it's been so long since my last article post and for my sparse comments lately, but working at a hospital can get crazy (in a good way), so I've been hard pressed to find time to write. Now that things at work have calmed down a bit I've finally gotten an opportunity so here it goes, I hope everyone likes it.
The revised BK logo from the 1990's. Anyone else remember when it looked like this?
I recently stopped in at a local Burger King to get my Whopper fix seeing as how I need to wrap my gums around my favorite burger whenever I get the chance, baring in mind that the BK in my home town no longer exists. I then decided to go a second time a couple of days later for breakfast to get my bacon Croissan'wich and French Toast Sticks fix (try to say that last part five times fast), and instantly went into my reverie of the days of my young innocence, a time when BK was a more simplistic burger joint rather than the hip, flashy, modernized place it has become over the past year or so (don't get me wrong, I actually like the new look). It was also one of those times that I thought back, as I usually do while dining at BK these days, to something that is missing now. I'm not sure how many people realize it but Burger King has stopped putting toys in their kid's meal. Infact, there is no longer a Burger King Kid's Club, sad but true. This really hits home for me because, as it so happens, I was a member back in the day, even having nick named myself "Spex" because of my glasses. Hey, I was a little one back then, it was a childhood thing. This is mostly due to the new owners (the ones who have updated the restaurants) having pulled the toys in order to stop advertising to children so much, what with the child obesity problem that we are facing today, and probably also to save the company some dollar signs. After all, those toys are expensive, right? Even if they are cheap little pieces of crap that kids get for free with their burgers.
This is the Kid's Club logo I remember the most vividly Ironically, it was also the very first one
And here is the most fondly remembered commercial to go with it. Sorry about the graininess, I'm afraid it's showing some age these days
The animation was good, the music was great and the nostalgia factor is off the scale (check out the cassic 1990's era BK packaging!), I really can't complain here. This commercial was featured on a lot of children's VHS releases that were sponsored by Burger King and also given out there, and which I will get to shortly.
Meet the main club members
A lot of you may notice that most of my memories of the Kid's Club are from the 1990's which is mostly because it was the best decade for it, a lot like Nickelodeon actually. The Kid's Club Gang started in 1990 and were able to keep up with Mickey-D's McDonald Land Gang until 2005 when they were replaced with a new set of characters called the Honbatz (don't ask). In the early 2000's, shortly before they got canceled, one more member was added, an Asian girl called Jazz who enjoyed playing music with her saxophone and whore a purple beret as a fashion statement. To bad she didn't get to be there for to long. I also remember when Lingo first joined up in the mid 1990's. Following are some of the toy sets and collectibles that I remember the most and the most fondly.
First up are these cups that came with figurines of four characters from the DC universe. The figurines acted as the handles for the cups and could also be detached for regular display. They included Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and, for some weird reason, Darkseid was the fourth one. This would explain why I could never remember who the last character was, because I now know that Darkseid is one of the greatest DC super villains of all time, but back then I had no idea who he was, let alone that he was a villain. In any case, for some reason the only one I had was Wonder Woman. I'm not sure if I thought she was hot back then or what but I remember asking for her at the BK counter and mom and the kid at the register giving me odd looks as if to say, "Wonder Woman? But you're a boy, why wouldn't you want Superman or Batman?" Yeah, I don't remember what my reason was now, these days my choice would be Batman, but hey, there's nothing like wrapping my fingers around Wonder Woman and enjoying a refreshing beverage, if you know what I mean. The problem is I'm not sure if I still have that cup, I think it might be stashed away somewhere so I'll have to dig around and see if I can locate it.
Ah, Gravedale High, the only title that I forgot to add to my wish list of DVD and digital releases in my last article (Nightwatcher's Patrol #21), which I apologize for by the way. We should be thankful to BK however, for having gotten ahold of the show while it was still in the hight of it's popularity. Gravedale High was produced by Rick Moranis in conjunction with Hanna-Barbera and revolves around a human teacher named Max Schneider (Moranis) who unwittingly takes the job at Gravedale and must take on a class of unruly monster kids, the latest generations of the Universal Monsters. The plot is similar to that of Welcome Back, Kotter only in animated, monster form. I had three out of four toys from this set: Frankentyke or "Franky", a sort Frankenstein monster/Bart Simpson hybrid, Sid the Invisible Kid and my personal favorite character Vinnie Stoker, a vampire, cool. This leaves Cleofatra, or "Cleo", as the only one I never got. Sad but interesting fact: This was the only set of toys to ever be made for Gravedale High. I guess one season worth of show wasn't enough to make it worth while for any major toy company.
Saving the Earth had never been so much fun! This set consisted of four vehicle type toys that were reversible, so once you collected all four, you automatically got all eight. The set included (clockwise from left) Wheeler (Fire)/Duke Nukem, Captain Planet/Hoggish Greedly (the only one I didn't have. Could this have been a pattern?), Mati and Linka (Heart and Wind)/Dr. Blight and finally Gi and Quami (Water and Earth)/Verminous Skumm. One side was heroes, the other villains, and the best part was that the plastic that was used to make these toys was completely recycled in order to make them eco friendly, same as the action figures that were available at the department stores at the time. Remember what Captain Planet always says, and still holds true: "The power is yours!"
BK had our favorite family from Springfield in their kids meal at least two or three times but I never had a chance to collect any of them. I did, however, manage to collect these. The dolls were available at a certain price with an extra value meal and I remember getting them one by one, waiting to finally get ahold of my own Bart Simpson. This resulted in my collecting all five of them but really, only Bart was necessary. As Homer might say, "Mmm, Whoppers!"
These toys were cool because, despite their simplicity, they were both fun and functional...sort of. I had Mikey, Leo and Raph who I used all the time because he was a toothbrush holder, although his suction cup didn't stick to the wall to well. Mikey gave a thumbs up and a "Cowabunga!" and Leo popped up over the top of his badge that declared him a "1st degree ninja". Donnie I'm not sure because I never got him but I assume that his sign spun around to reveal a message and Shredder I think I had but it's kind of fuzzy. I remember this also being when I played Turtles In Time for the first time because our BK had a copy of the original arcade cabinet at the time, so I got a cool TMNT toy and got to try one of the best TMNT video games too. Sweet!
Speaking of the TMNT, does anyone else remember these?
These tapes were given out at BK as a promotional tie in to the TMNT Kid's Meal. I had all four and each one only contained two episodes but I didn't care, I loved them and bugged mom to get me more of them. Mom did buy me more tapes, not the whole series perhaps but enough to keep me entertained between new episodes as they aired. My favorite tape (not one of these) contained an episode where the turtles discover a subterranean world that is inhabited by dinosaurs (a childhood love of mine, and it still remains so today). I recently found out, while skimming through the tapes on amazon.com, that the original series had an Easter special that was also released once. Why don't I remember that one?
For a while BK had also, some how, gotten their mitts on some Disney properties which I thought was strange because I was under the impression that only McDonald's was allowed to cover Disney.
Fun fact: Walt Disney had once met with Richard and Maurice McDonald, the founders of McDonald's, and they formed a partnership, in which case my above statement stands to reason. This is also why the Disney parks are riddled with McDonald's restaurants.
This was one of the few BK Kid's Meals that I didn't really have to much interest in since I'm a boy, but it sticks with me anyway and it was available in 1991 to help promote the movie. I know I'm a guy but they didn't really leave us much of a choice with this one, it was okay though because I got two of the male characters, one being Beast who I kind of like actually, and also Cogsworth, the clock. I had some fun using my Beast figure with other toys I had at home but Cogsworth didn't get to much play time.
I remember this set being out at Christmas time 1992, the year the movie came out, because I remember it being cold outside when we went to BK while they had these. I was lucky enough to have gotten Genie who bobbed up and down over his run away lamp, Abu who flipped over with his arms and Jafar with Iago spinning on his shoulder. You can see Iago laying on the ground next to his master although it's funny, I don't remember him being detachable. Aladdin and Jasmine eluded me but it was okay because I got something else that was even better than a toy, I got one of these...
I have to assume that these cups, not glasses as suggested in the promo picture (they are actually made of very durable plastic), came out in 1994 because one of them bares the poster from The Lion King. Come to think of it, I tried to get that one but, for reasons I can't remember, I never could. I have the Aladdin cup because it was my favorite 'modern' Disney movie so far at the time. There were eight in all and they displayed some of the best Disney movies that we had gotten thus far, and at only eighty nine cents a piece you couldn't go wrong. I only have one question: they could give us Snow White and Beauty and the Beast in this set but no Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty or The Little Mermaid? I would love to hear their excuse for that one.
One of the last BK Kid's Club toy sets that I got to partake in was also one of my favorites. Unfortunately I couldn't find any pictures of the complete set but I did find one of the only toy I had from it (*rolls eyes*).
That's right, it's Broadway from Gargoyles, one of the coolest things to ever come out of Disney. Broadway changed color from green to grey to make it look like he was going into his stone sleep and he was even made with a speckled plastic to simulate stone. I also remember a Goliath spinner toy that made it look like he was smashing out of his stone slumber, but the rest of the set is fuzzy to me and without a picture to help me out it's almost impossible. There was a second set that came out about two years later but I was getting to old for Kid's Meals and Happy Meals by then. I have all the DVD's that have been released for the series: Season 1 and Season 2 Volumes 1 and 2, and I still love it.
Another set that I remember from the time I had aged to much for it was a really cool one for Small Soldiers in 1998 which included mini figures of Chip Hazard and Archer with light up features. This is also noted as the promo that introduced the world to the Rodeo Burger. Just thought I would throw in a mention of that to keep everyone happy. On a side note, I love the Small Soldiers movie, it remains one of my favorite movies from the 90's.
Oohhh, the Rodeo Burger!
Yeah, I know it is still available but for a reason that I would rather not get into, unfortunately I can't eat them.
Before I close out I would like to throw in one more set that I wish had been out when I was younger:
This set was released in 2003, when I was in my early twenties, for Halloween, which is apparently a holiday favorite among these fast food companies. I wish that these had been out back in the 90's because I would love to have had Dracula. There is a collection of similar figures available now from the Funco company as part of their ReAction line, however, I would take these figures over those any day. Dracula pops out of his coffin and his head and hands glow in the dark, the Wolfman jumps out from his crate as the full moon rises at the top, the Frankenstein Monster's head lights up while he is on the slab and the Creature from the Black Lagoon squirts water from his mouth. I would like to see the ReAction figures do that. In fact, with a little more effort, these figures could have made it to department store shelves instead of ending up in fast food kid's meals.
Since the late 90's I've been eating adult style at BK and Mickey-D's although I've also been cutting back on the fast food in order to lose a few inches around the middle so I haven't been getting Whoppers or Big Macs as often nowadays either. The Burger King location in my home town was closed in the early 00's and was later torn down when the graffiti and disrepair turned it into an eyesore on our community. I understand that the property was recently purchased but the new owner hasn't built anything as of yet. It still makes me sad every time I look at the empty, fenced in lot where our Burger King once stood but at least I know of other locations around the island that I can still visit, even though each one is about a half hour away by car. True, the Whopper is my favorite fast food burger, but for me, visiting Burger King these days is about more than just scarfing a Whopper and wearing a stupid paper crown (in my case it's minus the crown), it's also about revisiting a part of my youth that is not as easy for me to acquire anymore. This is why I often drift into the past while I eat there, going back to a time that I remember so fondly and I hope that everyone enjoyed being my companions on my journey.
I will return whenever I can find enough time to write another article. Keep your Kid's Club memories fresh and whatever retro collectibles you may still have on hand. They are worth more than just money these days, they are far more worth the sense of nostalgia that they bring us. Sad as it is, Burger King may never give us anything like this again. Until next time retrojunkers, Nightwatcher out.