Scalpers Have Already Ruined McDonald’s New Pokemon Happy Meals

Scalpers Have Already Ruined McDonald’s New Pokemon Happy Meals

Written by 

Tom Chapman


11th Feb 2021 12:03

In our quest to Catch 'Em All, scalpers have already ruined the McDonald's Happy Meal Pokemon Card promotion. Is nothing sacred anymore? With those adorable Pocket Monsters turning 25 this year (since the release of Red and Green in Japan), The Pokemon Company has been dishing out the announcements like Rare Candy. While we wait for someone official to confirm those rumours a Diamond and Pearl remaster is on the way, there's still plenty to enjoy thanks to a revamped version of Pokemon Snap and rerelease of the original Pokemon Trading Card Game. 

Ronald McDonald clearly fancies himself as a secret member of the Elite Four and is also getting in on the action by adding Pokemon Cards to Happy Meals. This isn't the first time the Golden Arches have headed to Kanto, but to celebrate 25 years of Pokemon, this looks like it's the fast-food giant's biggest promotion yet. Unfortunately, some scalpers have taken the "happy" out of the Happy Meal and have already seen the Pokemon Cards go for ridiculous amounts of money. It's like someone brought Team Rocket to life.


How are scalpers ruining Pokemon Happy Meals?

Back in the day, it was simple. You went to McDonald's with your parents, ordered a Happy Meal, and saw what you got. If you already had the Teenie Beanie Baby Iguana, you could maybe ask nicely if the person behind the counter would swap. If not, you'd take to the playground to try and swap your latest addition for the one you were missing. These days, McDonald's introduced the clever/money-grabbing system where you can actually buy the toys separately. The Pokemon tie-in was always going to be a hit, meaning some adults have bought up the entire stock of cards to sell on for a profit.

According to Polygon, scalpers are waking up at 6am and buying Happy Meals just for the cards. In 2002, we saw a similar craze with the release of Pokemon Cards alongside McDonald's in Japan, but now, there are reports of people selling on whole cases of cards. Looking online, the current market value for a case of 150 McDonald's Pokemon Card packs is $1,100/£750, or you can buy a single pack for $10/£7. It's unclear whether employees are swiping boxes or there's a behind the scenes black market, but suddenly, we feel like we're back in the Pokemon craze of the early noughties.

Parents who genuinely want to give their kids a Happy Meal are having to drive around multiple McDonald's outlets just to find somewhere that isn't sold out. Worse than this, there are reports that people are buying 10 Happy Meals at a time (with employees putting 10 as the limit) and throwing away the food just to get to those limited edition Pokemon Cards. But what did anyone expect? There's been a huge resurgence in the collecting and buying of Pokemon Cards, while the 25th anniversary is seeing this balloon even further. 


Can we stop scalpers ruining Pokemon Happy Meals?

There is a silver lining to the story though. You don't have to be a kid to enjoy a Happy Meal, so some adults have continued their hunt for the cards and are giving the food to the homeless. There's sure to be a backlash from some parents who want their children to live out their Ash Ketchum fantasies, but much like the complaints of adults buying PlayStation 5s leaving their kids without for Christmas, it's a case of tough luck. What's definitely morally corrupt, is the growing numbers of scalpers ruining the McDonald's Pokemon Happy Meal promotion.

Even though McDonald's presumably expected its promotion to be a big hit, we doubt it accounted for this kind of scalping scandal. There are 50 classic cards to collect, with some being the super-rare holographic ones we remember from back in the day. They all come printed on special McDonald's Pokemon paper and have a 25th-anniversary mark in the corner. The other concern is the potential market for counterfeiting. All those years ago, the Pokemon Card market was flooded with fakes. 

The moral of the story here is don't be an a$$. It's all well and good wanting to get in on the fun and actually collect the cards for yourselves - even if it's with the view of selling the complete set on in years to come - but flogging whole boxers or cashing in on the joy of children is asking for a serious dose of karma. Either way, we're in the grips of Pokefever.


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Images via McDonald's | The Pokemon Company

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