Can anyone else who was alive in the 90s and 2000s smell the fresh charbroiled hamburger or cheeseburger scent of a Burger King Kids Club kids meal right now? For months in late 1989, a poster with shadowy cartoon figures was on the left wall of every Burger King in America. Was this Burger King's answer to the McDonaldland characters or an ad for the Whopper featuring cartoon teenagers? Unfortunately, children of the 1980s had to wait until January of 1990 to find out. Burger King kids meal packs were beginning to run out of steam once the Reagan 80s were over, so children of the 1980s wondered if the 90s were going to belong to McDonald's. Then, lo and behold, this commercial finally aired:
Initially, there were seven Kids Club kids. Kid Vid was the techie, I/Q was the brainiac, Jaws (the eater) was the epitome of cool, Snaps was the photographer of the group, Wheels was the racer, and Boomer was an athlete. The Burger King Kids Club has been panned for being too politically correct by some, but fast-food fans saw how Burger King covered all of the bases with the then-new Kids Club kids. Burger King Kids Club kids meals came with a hamburger, cheeseburger, or chicken tenders, small fries, a small drink, and a toy in a paper bag. The earliest paper bags had the Burger King Kids Club logo (an upside-down triangle with the words Kids Club in the middle), four wood planks, and a plastic window to showcase the toys of the week.
Children of the 90s would grab a Burger King Kids Club Adventures shortly after stepping in Burger King and read it while waiting for that white bag with the plastic window. Burger King Kids Club Adventures magazines advertised the toys and group of cartoon children better than the TV commercials. The free Burger King Kids Club Adventures leaflets were like the McDonaldland Fun Times, only with less content. The Adventures magazines were filled with information on the toys of the month, fanmail letters, pictures of Burger King Kids Club members, puzzles, fun facts, and a registration form for the Kids Club on the back.
The premiere issue of Burger King Kids Club Adventures from February and March of 1990 is rare nowadays because not many people were familiar with the Burger King Kids Club in those days of the 1990s. After more Burger King Kids Club TV advertisements aired, XYers grew fond of the Kids Club characters and immediately recognized how each section in the Burger King Kids Club Adventures pamphlets was put together by each member of the Kids Club gang. There were IQ Q.A. (questions for I/Q and answers by I/Q), SnapShots by Snaps, Sneak Peek [at the toys] by Kid Vid, and Club Chatter (letters to the Burger King Kids Club) by Jaws, to give you an example. Over 80 issues of the Burger King Kids Club Adventures leaflets were made from 1990 to 1999. Burger King continued the tradition of Adventures pamphlets for their Burger King Big Kids and Club BK children's meal programs in the 2000s.
The toys were always the best part of a Burger King Kids Club meal. For this part of my article, I will be listing my favorite fast-food promotional items for each year of the 90s decade. Buckle up, it's going to be a wild ride...
First Place: The Simpsons Go Camping
Time of Release: Late 1990
The Simpsons were America's newest dysfunctional family in 1990 that caught on like crazy. The debut episode of the series originally aired in the United States on January 14, 1990 on the FOX network. Bartmania ensued shortly after the fourth or fifth episode was airing. At the time, I was blown away by these. The toymakers perfectly captured the spirit of the characters from Bart's troublemaker smile to the unwatched Maggie Simpson standing on a turtle. The 3-D backdrops were a nice touch, also, for fans of Matt Groening's animation style. This set reminds me of the season 1 episode, "The Call of the Simpsons" (unfortunately, the Maggie toy isn't wearing pink).
Runners Up: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Action Badges (better than great big buttons at department stores back then)/ Record Breakers (the very first Burger King Kids Meal toys)/ Beetlejuice toys (the only animated Beetlejuice toys that weren't prototypes)/ Kids Club Transporters (the ultimate trinkets for Kids Club fanatics)
Notes: The toys from this year were the most memorable for XYers.
Burger King Kids Club Action Figures
Time of Release: Early 1991
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Action figures in a kids meal? That was a first for us in the 1990s. Finally, there was a Kid Vid action figure to recreate scenes from the Burger King Kids Club commercials that ran during DuckTales commercial breaks. Unfortunately, this set was missing Snaps, Wheels, and JD. The Burger King Kids Club action figures were made of good sturdy plastic and each figure had five points of articulation.
Runners Up: Barnyard Commando Cuffs (much safer than those bootleg slap bracelets)/ Inspector Gadget Go-Go Gadget Gizmos (long before the Disney's Inspector Gadget Happy Meal toys)/ Disney's Beauty and the Beast (some of the first Disney Burger King toys and highly detailed at that)
Notes: First full year of Lingo, the artsy Kids Club kid.
Time of Release: November 1992
Disney's Aladdin toys were a step ahead of the Beauty and the Beast licensed toys from the year before. Children of the 90s got Aladdin on his magic carpet, Iago on the antagonist Jafar's shoulder, Jasmine on Rajah (her tiger), Genie in his lamp, and an out of scale Abu. The miniature figurines were all detachable, with the exception of Genie. The Sultan, the kindhearted ruler of Agrabah and father of Princess Jasmine, would have fit in nicely here. It is a real shame Burger King did not make the Cave of Wonder go with these toys.
Runners Up: Archie Cars (from the age of pull back and go toy cars)/ Walt Disney's Pinocchio Summer Inflatables Collection (self-explanatory)/ Capitol Critters (controversial primetime cartoon gets fast-food toys)/ Goof Troop Bowlers (totally early 90s toys)
Note: The Burger King Kids Club logo changed in this year.
Time of Release: Mid or Late 1993
Trolls were all of the rage among XYers and Yers at the start of the Clinton 1990s, so Burger King decided to jump on the troll bandwagon and gave us Kid Vid, Jaws, I/Q, and Snaps in troll form. The Glow-In-The-Dark Trolls were missing the gems on their bellies, but Millennials were convinced that the trolls were still good luck. Frankly, I was put off by the green hair on Jaws and pink hair on Kid Vid, but I realize now that Burger King was trying to capitalize on the Treasure Troll fad. With that said, my favorites from this set were I/Q and Snaps. The mid-90s Burger King Kids Club logos and signatures of the characters are on the back of each troll. I don't remember anyone carrying these around, but Burger King certainly accomplished their purpose with these keepsakes.
Runners Up: Disney's Little Mermaid the Series (the second Flounder squirter in a fast-food promotion)/ Disney's Bonkers Crash-Apart Cars (bumper cars)/ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Bike Gear (the head of Raphael, the hotheaded and sarcastic turtle, on a bike horn)/ Top Kids Wild Spinning Tops (micro figurines of Kid Vid, Wheels, Jaws, and Boomer, enough said)
Note: The Save the Animals card set were the first-ever trading cards to appear in the Burger King Kids Club kids meal.
Disney's The Lion King
Time of Release: June 1994
This set of seven action characters arrived just in time for anyone who wanted collectibles from the smash-hit Disney's The Lion King. Scar, Rafiki, Mufasa, and Nala were poseable toys, while Simba, Ed the Hyena, and Timon and Pumbaa had action features. I was not a child in the mid-1990s, therefore, I didn't own any of these. I feel that Zazu should have been a wind-up to round out the set. Personally, I'm clueless as to why adult Simba was not an action figure for this collection, but I suppose you could substitute Mufasa for adult Simba.
Runners Up: Disney's Aladdin the Series Hidden Treasures (Aladdin fans will love these)/ Kids Club Pranks toys (all of them are here from the whoopee cushion to the buzzer)/ Z-Bots with Kids Club caps (POGS and Micro Machines Z-Bots? Win-win situation)/ Skybox The Lion King trading cards (base cards)
Note: Rafiki is one of the only (if not the only) Burger King Kids Club meal anthropomorphic animal toys with an accessory.
Time of Release: November 1995
A real set of toys based on old toys for the drive-thru toy collector. Obviously, the Army Recon Squad stands out above all else because they are actual Green Army Men (slightly taller than the average Green Army Men you would find at the grocery store). My only gripe is that R/C is missing an antenna (R/C is supposed to be an R/C car). I wish there had been more characters in this set. Otherwise, the Burger King Kids Club Toys were neat; you could twist Mr. Potato Head's ear like with the actual Playskool Mr. Potato Head toy.
Runners Up: Disney's A Goofy Movie Adventure Toys (whatever happened to Max Goof)/ Disney's The Lion King Pop-Up Finger Puppets (Nala is missing this time around)/ Disney's Pocahontas (Grandmother Willow, but no Cave of Wonder to go with the Aladdin set...)/
Note: 1995 was the first year when cups and water bottles were the toys in Burger King Kids Club kids meals.
Toy Story Now On Video Toys
Time of Release: Late 1996
The last set of Toy Story Burger King Kids Club kids meal toys were the best of the two. For the first time in Burger King Kids Club history, side characters such as Hamm, Lenny, Bo Peep, an Alien, and Slinky Dog were introduced. We even got Scud, Sid Phillip's bull terrier, as a wind-up toy. The instruction manual for these eight toys was a much bigger improvement over the one from the year before. Overall, Burger King succeeded in making Toy Story toys that appealed to people of all ages this time around.
Runners Up: Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame Movie Toys (Disney's The Lion King set all over again but with more accessories)/ Kids Club Glo-Force (glow in the dark toys and stickers were a big deal in the 90s)/ Scooby Doo Where Are You? (you can't beat a poseable Scooby-Doo in your kids meal)/ A Walt Disney Masterpiece Pocahontas Now Available On Video Hide 'n' Seek Finger Puppets (sadly, these were not modeled after a Jack in the Box like the Lion King Pop-Up Finger Puppets were)
Note: This was the second year of Burger King having two sets of toys for the same property all in the same year à la Gargoyles.
Time of Release: Early 1997
M&M's (Mars & Murrie) candy was first released in the year 1941, but the oldest M&M's commercial dates back to the year 1954. The animated commercials did not air until sometime in the 1960s, but 1994 was the year when the red (chocolate M&M) and yellow (peanut M&M) M&M's went from being 2-D toons to 3-D characters. The 3-D M&M's were to Millennials what The California Raisins were to XYers only without the Motown titles. This set of five toys was brilliant because you could make a homemade bag of M&M's or a bowl for M&M's as a playset and almost all the colors would be in it (a brown M&M was not a part of this promotion). Every M&M's figurine came with a bag of fun-size M&M's as they were candy dispensers and an expression on their faces that suits their anthropomorphic personality. The blue M&M is the coolest of the set because of his impersonation of Bill Clinton on The Arsenio Hall Show in 1992 (the blue M&M has the blues). The yellow M&M (peanut M&M) is the hardest to come by on the black market today.
Runners Up: Anastasia Movie Toys (20th Century Fox does Disney)/ Universal Monsters (these look great next to the 1980 Remco action figures)/ M&M's Minis (Burger King and Mars Candy tried to strike thunder twice, but these were missing mini M&Ms candy)/ The Land Before Time (you got Littlefoot plus a dinosaur trading card with facts about dinosaurs on the back)
Note: Burger King starts carrying DC Comics characters (Superman the Animated Series) this year.
Time of Release: May 1998
Rugrats was one of the original three Nicktoons that took off in the 90s and was last shown in the Bush 2000s. There were five toys that gave you an idea of what the characters were like by looking at them. Tommy Pickles was a crawling hero, Chuckie Finster was a sensitive toddler, Angelica Pickle's parents had money, Reptar was their version of Godzilla, and Phil and Lil DeVille were twins. With Tandem Triking Phil and Lil, you got two toys on the same vehicle which was something you did not see in many kids meals. Reptar Alive does not quite go with this set in the way Susie Carmichael would have, but it is a welcome addition to this promotion. All five toys come with an offer for a special issue of Nickelodeon magazine that has a photo of the Rugrats on the cover.
Runners Up: Men In Black the Animated Series (the first of two Men In Black fast food toy lineups)/ Mr. Potato Head (I miss the french fry recipe that went with this set)/ The Rugrats Movie (the late 90s were great times for Millennials that were into the Rugrats)/ Kids Club Bug Riders (the Tyco Dino-Riders fan in me would be inclined to own a set of these if I wasn't grossed out by them)/ Small Soldiers (think Gremlins but with toys)
Note: Burger King went all out in this year with Rugrats shaped chicken tenders and a Mr. Potato Head toy promotion to coincide with their then-new french fries.
Nickelodeon's 1999 Kids Choice Awards
Time of Release: April 12, 1999
May 1st of 1999 is an important date in history because Yers and early Zers were treated Nickelodeon 1999 Kids Choice Awards and then the pilot episode of the late Stephen Hillenburg's Spongebob Squarepants. What better way to save the date than to display these six toys from Burger King?! The Nickelodeon 1999 Kids Choice Awards toys were the last gifts to come out of the Burger King Kids Club kids meal era. Three of the toys have Rosie O' Donnell animated caricature figurines, but the other three have just have Nickelodeon logos on them (the orange blimp, wiggle writer pen, and inflatable hand). Of course, Give The Winner a Hand (inflatable hand) fetches the most money in black markets because many late Yers and Zers opened the packages in 1999. The Big Bold Blimp is the must-have toy of the set for me because I always wanted one of those orange awards to sit on my bedroom shelf. This set does not get a lot of love from Kids Club kids meal fans.
Runner Ups: Teletubbies (beanbag finger puppets that double as keychains)/ Mr. Potato Head (there's no such thing as enough Mr. Potato Head)/ CatDog (a set for cat AND dog lovers)
Notes: 1999 was a transitional year for Burger King kids meal fans. Burger King ditched the Kids Club ads and picked up the Big Kids Meal moniker for their kids meals (this was before McDonald's came up with the Mighty Kids Meal).
1999 was the first year Burger King had a Nintendo property tie-in (Pokémon).
Teletubbies were the last ever Burger King Kids Club kids meal toys.
4. Lord of the Rings Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
5. The Simpsons Movie (2007)
Top Five Burger King Value Meal Items of All Time
1. TMNT F.H.E. Tapes (1990)
2. The Simpsons Dolls (1990)
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3.The Many Faces of ALF (1988)
4. Toy Story Pals Hand Puppets (1995)
5. Walt Disney Collector Series Glasses (1994)
Sadly, the days of receiving a Burger King Kids Club membership card, stickers,a poster, and free meal on your birthday are behind us, but the memories live on. Jazz, an Asian female with a passion for music and a beret, was added to the Kids Club in the early 2000s. I cannot find any media online that features her. I believe Jazz was featured on the Burger King Big Kids Meal website in the 2000s. The Kids Club was scrapped altogether in 2005. Today, the Kids Club kids appear in fanart and fanfiction by people who grew up in the 1990s and 2000s. Ultimately, the Kids Club gang has failed to resurface.
There will never be another Burger King Kids Club (it was a product of its time). Thank you, Burger King for this noble act. Both old Millennials (XYers) and young Millennials (Yers) will never forget the great fast-food toy wars of the 1990s and early 2000s. I guess it is time for me to close the red Kids Club treehouse door now.... Retrojunkers, I leave you with the start of it all...
Remember the Record Breakers TV show with Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura from the very late 80s?
Before I go, what were your favorite Burger King Kids Club toys? Please discuss them all below in the comments.
Well, see you later, Retrojunkers! Good luck to you all and bon voyage!