Serial-based movie gets cereal prizes

My daughter is five and loves Cheerios.  I can’t complain, they’re healthier than other alternatives and a handful makes a great snack after school while waiting for dinner.

One thing though, as a kid I never cared for Cheerios and I’ll admit one of the reasons was this:

Cheerios never had good prizes.

I’m a kid of the 80’s and back then Cheerios was the cereal for moms who ranted about other cereals having too much sugar and other negative quantities.  Luckily, for my brother and I, my mom was a little more open to options- she just wanted us fed and out the door to school on time.  So our mornings were a bit more colorful with Trix, Lucky Charms, and Cookie Crisp making the rotation.  It was always a matter of grave discussion who would get the treasured prize in the box when making our selection at our local grocery store.

So color me surprised when a recent trip to the store changed my cereal world!  I had heard about the General Mills Big G cereals doing a tie-in with the 3D re-release of The Phantom Menance.  I was expecting the usual on box pictures, maybe a mask, or a send off item similar to the Ghost Obi-Wan.  However, this trip I found for the purchase of a box of cereal I could get a pretty cool pen!  There are eight different pens to collect which look pretty great for a freebie in a cereal box.  Additionally, unlike McDonalds, Big G cereals are inclusive with Amidala being one of the options.  There’s a little to love for anyone- Jedi, Queen, Gungan, droids- your desk will look great or homework will be just a little more fun with one of these pens.  Who knew something good for you would also be fun too!

Additionally on my trip to the store, while my Cheerios boxes were bare of any Star Wars fun, the Honey Nut Cheerios had a different offer- a free poster with each purchase.  The post came wrapped to the box and is located in the back.  You could use it for play, decorate your locker, or hang it in your cube to geek things up a bit.

Bravo to General Mills Big G Cereal for getting it right! Star Wars items for girls and boys without insulting anyone.   Can’t wait to dive into some Cookie Crisp for me and some Cheerios for the kiddo – just hope we get different pens!

Star Wars toys return to McDonalds’ Happy Meal this Friday… As ‘boy toys’

A new occasional feature here will be sharing those things that money (technically) can’t buy (at least not until it is on the secondary market).  Some examples: the podracer 3D glasses (though you can buy them if you’re not near a giveaway theater.)  Orange Death Star hand fans,  Pins, LEGO mini-figs,  ghost Obi-Wan figures,  and Special Edition Luke figures.

It will not be an exhaustive listing, but when we come across various tie-ins, we’ll do our best to share them with you as well as revisit some from the past from time to time.  Why? Because who doesn’t appreciate the free finer things in life?

First up — the McDonalds Star Wars Happy Meal toys for The Phantom Menace 3D rerelease.

McDonalds has had a few waves of Star Wars toys included in their happy meals in the prequel era.  The last couple of series were tied to The Clone Wars and were amusing.  The 2008 set focused on a cross between characters and ships – best of both worlds for most kids I know.

Threepio Happy Meal toy from 2011

The 2011 set  featured lightsabers, a Jedi Mind trick, a C3PO bobble (with R2-KT sticker!) – I still have some of those around and they were great for boys and girls. Who wouldn’t want 3PO hanging around all day?

Starting this Friday (per contacts in my local market, YMMV), you’ll start seeing a new round of Happy Meal toys.  I was excited when I first heard about the promotion, looking forward to seeing what McDonalds would come up with to celebrate the movie.  McDonald toys have been pretty cool lately with either multiple pieces, built in electronic lights and/or sounds, or just something above and beyond a hunk of plastic.  I was thinking maybe Jar-Jar with a long tongue (it’s been approved before), or prequel lightsabers like the 2011 promotion, or ships, or figures with voice chips.  Something strongly tied in to TPM at least.

The toys are previewed on (See the screenshot above.) And they appear to be of the Beyblade  / LEGO Ninjago (minus the mini-fig) style of tops to compete with and collect.

The holders are light saber hilts, 2 pod racers, and R2.  The tops feature pictures of various standouts from the movie associated with the holder model.  The one standout is in the shape of R2-D2, with a matching top.  R2 fans will enjoy adding it to their collection and if you’re crafty you could modify it to match another of your favorite R2-series droids.

Recently Happy Meals have changed to include apple slices as well as fries as part of the meal to encourage healthier eating.  I can’t help but wonder if this decision has affected the budget for the toys.  Healthy living is important and as a mom I appreciate the apples being there and not just a choice, but cheapening the toy further is messing with tradition.  I’d rather not see the Happy Meal toy go the way of Crackerjack prizes in terms of quality.

Kids are still going to be happy with finding one of these toys in their Happy Meal but there is something far more discouraging .  The Star Wars toys have been deemed “boy toys” and have been paired up with Build A Bear as the “girl toy” offering.  Why oh why do we continue to have this designation and only for certain partners?  The Chipmunks were not divided, Happy Feet 2, Avatar – all these toys were offered to both boys and girls equally.

You’d think after 30+ years of girls vocally loving Star Wars, they’d offer an expanded collection for both girls and boys to play with and share.  At least Burger King offered Iron Man jewelry for girls during their promotion rather than assume girls did not want to celebrate Tony Stark.  Iron Man 2 even had at least two strong female characters in Pepper Potts and Black Widow. The Phantom Menace has a queen, her bodyguard handmaidens, a mother, and numerous female characters who appear throughout the movie.  What a disappointment to not include any of these characters in the Happy Meal toys at all.

Shame on you, Ronald.  What a wasted opportunity.