Monday, February 17, 2020

Super Mario Bros. 3 Happy Meal!

The release of Super Mario Bros. 3 was an event. Between being teased in Nintendo Power, commercials, and the film The Wizard, Nintendo knew they had a gem on their hands and used every possible outlet to promote it, including McDonald's Happy Meals!

My attempt at recreating a legend!
The Super Mario Bros. Happy Meal was bursting with Mario goodness. This promotion ran during the month of August in 1990, just 6 months after the North American release of the game. Everything from the box design to the somewhat off model toys were home runs that help make this promotion legendary.



Everything from punny jokes, to puzzles, to mazes... even a paper Mario doll was included on the Happy Meal box! The designers went the extra mile by mixing pixel art with cartoony artwork based on the Super Mario Bros. 3 game manual. The Happy Meal box is a perfect encapsulation of the hype that surrounded the release of Super Mario Bros. 3.

  The real star of the Super Mario Bros. 3 Happy Meal were clearly the toys. Even though some may seem off model, they make up for this with their charm. Toys based on video games were few and far between in the 90's. We would grab onto anything that would allow us to include characters from our favorite Nintendo games in our G.I. Joe or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Skirmishes. A Koopa Paratroopa teaming up with Leonardo to save Michelangelo from a Goomba? Why the hell not!

If the included toy was not enough, an insert was included with more great artwork and a subscription form for Nintendo Power! I wonder how many greasy cheeseburger subscription forms Nintendo Power received the Summer of 1990?

I hate to be the guy to say "you had to be there," but you really did. Mario fever reached a crazed pitch in 1990. The amount of promotion the release of Super Mario bros. 3 received was unheard of. Nowadays we are spoiled with video game characters popping up in car commercials, on soda cans, just about everywhere we look. Video game toys are literally everywhere. Getting a few chunks of plastic based on a video game in a Happy Meal in the 90's was like finding the Holy Grail. 

At the end of the day, the Super Mario Bros. 3 Happy Meal is clearly the best Happy Meal ever. While the toys and Happy Meal boxes have recently jumped in price, they are still worth tracking down, especially if you remember people across the country chanting "MARIO!"

Thank you for reading about an old stained box and the plastic toys that came within. Be sure to check back next week for some more arcade retro goodness!

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