McDonald's Happy Meal Toys That Are Worth A Lot Of Money

In 2001, a craze crashed through the Chinese city of Guangzhou. Snoopy, the iconic black-and-white dog from the Peanuts comic strips, had just been released as a McDonald's toy. As BBC News reported at the time, two people were sent to the hospital due to cuts from window glass shattering under the weight of excited McDonald's customers. Shortly afterward, a black market evolved where the 10-yuan models (approximately $1.20) were fetching 200 yuan (around $24). That's roughly 200 times the Happy Meal toys' normal value.

Exorbitant prices for McDonald's toys aren't a rarity, either. A 2018 Today report revealed that some antique websites suggest prices in the hundreds of dollars for mint-condition Happy Meal toys.

However, we must distinguish between the price a seller might set and what the toy actually sells for. The Auctions and For Sales sections of the McDonald's Collectors Club are filled with posts advertising deals, but they often lack any confirmation that a deal occurred. However, fans may remember the BBC News coverage of how a McNugget shaped like a character from Among Us sold for $99,997. In other words, what things should be worth isn't always a good indicator of what people will actually pay.

Still, some McDonald's toys are going to sell well — so well, in fact, that The Motley Fool once described the company as the largest toy distributor in the world. Here are two popular types of McDonald's Happy Meal toys for which some people will put down some serious cash.

Beanie Babies

Do you remember Beanie Babies, aka the collectible stuffed animals that became the 20th century's version of Dutch tulips? As the New York Post recalls, the craze was so extreme that individual Beanie Babies originally worth $5 were sold for as much as $5,000. McDonald's got in on the action in 1998; per About Beanies, the fast-food chain received such an enthusiastic response that restaurants ran out of the toys. And in 2019, McDonald's brought back Beanie Babies to celebrate the Happy Meal's 40th anniversary.

One special edition of Happy Meal Beanie Babies, in particular, has garnered fans' attention. As About Beanie details, McDonald's celebrated the Happy Meal's 25th anniversary by commissioning a McDonald's-themed line of Beanie Babies in 2004. As of writing, two of the collection's Ronald McDonald Beanie Babies are being auctioned and have received bids. One has reached $76 after 22 bids on eBay. The other is listed at $78 after 15 bids.

Those prices may seem like a pittance when compared to the old Beanie Baby prices. However, compare those amounts to the $19.97 one person has pegged their 12 McDonald's Beanie Baby sets. Or, better yet, compare it to the prices some want for Rocket the Blue Jay. No one has yet shown interest in paying $49 or $79.99 for these old McDonald's toys.

Still, it should be noted that the Ronald McDonald Beanie Baby isn't a surefire cash grab. While some will pay over $30 for it, others are asking for $5.99.

Pokémon cards

Pokémon cards are some of the most successful Happy Meal toys to auction. They beat out Beanie Babies by being both a current fad and having a greater concentration of ownership. McDonald's released a series of Pokémon cards in February 2021, and within days, Polygon had reported that scalpers had descended to get as many Pokémon cards as possible to sell online later.

On the low end of the spectrum, a holographic Grookey card from McDonald's received five bids before selling on eBay for $14.52 on December 1. That, however, marks the bottom for not just this batch of cards, but even that specific card. Another copy of the same card, from the same seller, later sold for $52 after 19 bids.

Grookey, however, is not an all-time fan-favorite Pokémon like Charmander. On December 15, a McDonald's holographic Charmander card sold for $128. And Pikachu, of course, is the most iconic Pokémon of all. Three holographic McDonald's Pikachu cards were auctioned off for $211.50, $218.61, and even $370

Across the range of the 2021 McDonald's Pokémon cards, the prices have included a respectable $15 to $20, with some lucky cases breaking $100. Like the Peanuts-themed Happy Meal toys of yore, these cards have struck a chord and have formed their own successful submarket. If you're lucky enough to have old Happy Meal toys lying around, it might be worth trying to sell them on eBay — especially if they're Pokémon cards.