We Regret To Inform You That The Pokemon Happy Meals Are Pretty Cool

I'm so, so sorry.

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McDonald's has started a new promotion, this time featuring the timeless, enduring property for kids and weird adults alike, Pokemon. And as one such weird adult, I sincerely regret to inform you that the included "toys" are actually pretty cool. Do with this knowledge what you will.

We first started to hear scuttlebutt about the Pokemon Happy Meals in January, with leaked word that it would involve a series of paper-based "toys" instead of the plastic figurines of past promotions. Ha! How cheap, I thought, remembering such Happy Meal royalty as the Halloween dress-up McNuggets and Changeables, which were basically Transformers if Optimus Prime had disguised himself as a milkshake. Even the Pikachu with glowy red cheeks was up there as a pretty sweet collectible! Who needs cheap paper crap?

I do, apparently.

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That's because the paper-based toys are actually pretty neat, on the whole. The toy package comes contained in a little cardboard sleeve with an activity and an accessory like stickers or a paper picture frame. These are perfectly reasonable little goodies, but the centerpiece of the sets are the Pokemon card packs. These are well-made, usable Pokemon cards, and each pack contains three standard cards alongside one holo card.

I don't actually play the Pokemon Trading Card Game, but I do have an itch for collecting regardless. Just ask my piles of unused Star Wars CCG cards, or my actual still-preserved collection of pogs, or the fact that I'm the resident Hearthstone player on staff. So a set of collectible trading cards commemorating a series I've loved since childhood is fiendish.

What's worse, these clever bastards made them all starters, one of the most memorable elements in Pokemon canon. All 25 standard cards are themed after the 25 starter Pokemon across the entire series history (24 + Pikachu from Pokemon Yellow), along with holo versions of each for a total of 50 in all. You may not have ever gotten around to finishing the Elite Four in Pokemon X and Y, but you'll remember picking Fennekin until the day you die. Because of this, every pack is a nostalgia trip.

When you purchase two Happy Meals for your two children or your one adult self, you may end up with duplicates from the top of the toy pile (or whatever, I've never been backstage at a McDonald's). This is fine for keeping your children from fighting over the better toy, but not ideal if they wanted to play together with some variety. Or if you, just hypothetically, as the adult grabbing some Happy Meals during his lunch break, wanted to get two different things.

With randomized card packs this isn't much of a problem. The pack contents aren't predetermined, and two packs don't appear to have the exact same assortment of cards. So unless you're trying to catch 'em all like some kind of maniac, the chances of duplicates are relatively low.

Even the Happy Meal box is cute, with a little Pikachu design that sports pop-out ears so you can make it look 3D.

Don't mistake me, I'm not saying the Happy Meals are worth driving from town to town, or buying 100 at a time, or paying exorbitant fees from eBay scalpers. They're just cute, fun collectibles, and a nice trip down memory lane for longtime Pokemon fans. If you happen to live near a McDonald's and have an appetite for a cheeseburger with apple slices and a tiny thimble of soda, give it a try.

Just stay the hell away from mine.

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