For about ten years now, TPCi and McDonald’s have been working together on releasing Pokémon TCG cards in their Happy Meals. Initially they were released one card per toy, but in 2021—as part of Pokémon’s 25th Anniversary celebrations—McDonald’s released a Happy Meal promo pack which included a pack of four cards instead of just one. No plastic toy this time, but a set of four different simple paper play items like stickers and whatnot were included with the pack. The promotion began on Tuesday, February 9, 2021 and lasted for four weeks until March 9, 2021. Hopefully you had some good luck trying to find Pokémon packs!
Now if you just want the most basic-of-basic ideas of what is in the numbered packs, I’ll just quickly outline them here. You can also see the official McDonald’s display about the promotion to your right:
- #1 — Lt. White, Dk. White and Lt. Black — a 60-card card box for your Pokémon TCG cards
- There are eight different card box designs, one for each Generation of Starters.
- Which box you got had nothing to do with which pack they appeared in.
- #2 — Dk. Black and Lt. Blue — small Pokémon paper stickers, plus a double-sized scenic panorama to place the stickers on
- There are two different sets of 26 stickers, as well as two sets of panoramas to stick them onto.
- Each set contains 2x of all starters from half of the game’s generations plus Pikachu. One set covers Gens 1-4, the other covers Gens 5-8.
- Whether you got the Black or Blue pack made no difference as to which sticker or panorama you got.
- #3 — Dk. Blue, Lt. Red and Dk. Red — large Pokémon vinyl stickers
- There are eight different sets of four stickers; each set contains all three starters from the same gen, plus a Pikachu
- These were inserted randomly between the three different packs.
- #4 — Lt. Green and Dk. Green — Pokémon TCG card frame
- There were only two different card frames, both with Pikachu in them.
- Unlike the other packs, which of the two frames that was inside WAS dependant on which Green pack you got.
ALL of the numbered packs, however, contain a pack of four Pokémon TCG cards, one of which will be a random holofoil of any of the 25 cards in the set. Let’s be clear, however: you have an equal chance of getting ANY of the 25 Pokémon as a holofoil card, meaning those chances are 1/25. If anyone claims that a Pikachu holofoil card is super rare, laugh in their face, but especially make sure they don’t rip you off.
Here at PA!, we like to gather as much details about everything about everything so that you, our audience, can enjoy the promo here in case you can’t enjoy it elsewhere. I’m hoping I can LEGIT collect everything, but in case I can’t, I’ll try to shore up the data using other sources. Heck, if YOU have something that I’m missing, then send me a tweet or post something on our Discord and I’ll be sure to add it here ASAP!
General Data and Some History
As you can imagine, the response to this promotion was INSANE. Starting DAY ONE, you had people trying to buy up as much as they could; some were buying 100 Happy Meals just to get the packs, others managed to convince their local McDonald’s to simply sell them cases of the toys outright. Of course once news got out about this, the general public was greatly upset—rightfully so!—and any famous YouTubers trying to capitalize off the craze in those ways almost instantly got their butts chewed out by everyone without an ear-shot. GOOD.
Fortunately though, in response to the emmense popularity of this promotion, both Nintendo/Pokémon and McDonalds announced that they recognize the issue and have been producing extra packs to ensure that as many customers can get a pack as possible. And I’m sure they gave any restaurants caught selling cases of packs Day One a nice slap on the wrist… at least, I would hope they did; I mean, I get McDonald’s is in the business of making money and they don’t care HOW they sell packs as long as they can sell them, but I’m sure they understand that they would lose MORE money from restaurants selling off the packs on Day One than they would if entire families bought their food knowing that they still had packs. In any case, this issue was ultimately short lived, and after the first week most restaurants had a fairly consistant and regular supply of packs. Hopefully everyone got all the packs they wanted; I sure did!
If it so happened that you weren’t able to get any Happy Meal packs, or if you just want to relive the memory of getting packs, then this section is for you! This following info covers the Happy Meal promotion as a whole, as well as what would appear in a Happy Meal regardless of what actual promo pack you get.
Each Pokémon 25 Happy Meal contained a single promo pack, and inside each promo pack was a single 4-card booster pack, a simple puzzle or coloring page printed on the inside, and one of four “toys” of sorts. Which of the four toys you get is noted by what color and number your promo pack is; the details of what is contained in each number is listed below.
As mentioned above, there were ten total different promo packs; in five different colors and two “shades” of sorts:
As you can see:
- There are five colors total: white, black, blue, red and green.
- Whites represent #1, Reds for #3 and Greens are #4, while Black is used for both #1 and #2, and Blue is for #2 and #3.
- Y’know, I almost think that maybe FIVE prizes were planned, but it was knocked down to four at the last minute. I dunno who to blame for this, so I’ll just blame COVID.
- The two “shades” are what I call “Light” and “Dark”; technically it’s how the colors are depicted relative to the stylized “Pikachu tail” on the cover.
- The top row is “Light”, the bottom is “Dark”
- The “Dark” packs have this sort of opaque field of a single color outside of a stylized depiction of Pikachu’s tail
- While the “Light” packs show the “Pokemon 25” pattern throughout the cover.
- Curiously, none of the Pikachu pictures repeat EXCEPT for the one depicted on “Light Black” and “Light Green”.
I have examples of every promo pack released during the promotion, separated by color and type of toy you would’ve gotten. Furthermore, each row also covers:
- What the promo pack looks like when closed
- What the promo pack looks like when unfolded
- The printed design inside the pack, such as a puzzle or maze.
- They also include the hint in case you need help (the maze ones are a real brain teazer!)
- Sorry though, no hint guide for the coloring page.
To see the all of packs in greater detail, check the handy table below.
|PACK #1 — LT. WHITE: On the back it includes instructions on how to construct the card box prize inside. Then, on the inside, is a crafty little maze, complete with answer guide (which was quite welcomed; it was a real brain teaser this one!).|
|PACK #1 — DK. WHITE: Since this also is a #1 pack, it also shows how to construct the card box prize inside. Therefore, there is not a single White Promo Pack that has a blank backside. Meanwhile, the inside puzzle is similar to the one inside the Dk. Black #2 Promo Pack, but that one had you match Pikachu silhouettes while this one involves the silhouettes of various Starter Pokémon.
Somewhere along the line, this pack was redesigned slightly… you MIGHT actually have a “rare” version of this pack!
|PACK #1 — LT. BLACK: Like its #1 siblings, it has the card box construction instructions printed on the pack. Unlike its #1 siblings, there is a coloring page printed on the inside.
Side note: when the McDonald’s Pokémon ended, despite over 21 days of endless McDonald’s Happy Meal lunches—not that I’m complaining, of course!—I ultimately never got the Lt. Black and Dk. Green promo packs, as well as the Gen 4 and 8 Vinyl stickers from the #3 packs. Fortunately eBay came to save the day; I managed to get everything I needed, and therefore was able to fnish this page. God bless eBay!
|PACK #2 — DK. BLACK: This was when I realized that each of the packs, despite having the same toy as the other #2 item, it had a different picture printed on the inside. In this case, this has a puzzle similar to the one inside the #1 Dk. White packs, where you try to connect Pikachus to their silhouettes. Also included is the answer to the puzzle (in case it was too hard to figure out).|
|PACK #2 — LT. BLUE: Nothing special here… but there is a coloring page that is printed onto the inside of the Blue #2 promo pack. Sorry, no hint guide available for this one.|
|PACK #3 — DK. BLUE: It’s kinda interesting how both the Black and Blue packs were separated across two different numbered packs. Like, Whites, Reds and Greens are exclusively packs #1, #3 and #4, respectively. But the Blacks packs are split between #1 and #2, while the Blues are #2 and #3. Why? I mean, why not make—say—both Black packs be #2, while splitting the Blue packs across #1 and #3? Heck, why even split packs to begin with? Maybe there WAS going to be a #5 prize but that was canned somewhere along the line. Oh well.
Anyways, this is the Dark Blue packs for the #3 promo packs. Printed inside is a “find the item” puzzle, but it only asks you to find six Poké Balls. Why not count ALL the different kinds of Pokéballs? Yes, the spelling was intentional: generically they are all “Pokéballs”, but the cheapest, most common type is the “Poké Ball”. A “Poké Ball” is a “Pokéball”, but not all “Pokéball” are “Poké Ball”. Get it? Got it? Good.
|PACK #3 — LT. RED: Personally I think the #3 promo packs are the best, because it has the most variety amongst all four packs: eight different sets of rather large vinyl stickers, versus the same copy of the same item. I guess because of the variety of the #3 packs, it makes sense to have three versions of them instead of only two. But then again, why does the #1 promo packs ALSO have three different packs—both Whites and Lt. Black—but only have the same card box inside? The #2 promo packs at least have two different sets of stickers inside… THAT should’ve had the three different packs instead of the #1 packs.
This promo pack has a Snivy maze inside, but only one of them is the REAL solution. Which of the Snivys lead to the Super Ball inside: the sneaky-looking one, or the… other sneaky-looking one?
|PACK #3 — DK. RED: This promo pack also has a Pikachu coloring page. No crayons tho. At least there are three Pikachu you can color instead of just one… this way, you can see what a blue-colored Pikachu looks like without having to waste an entire coloring page to find out.
BTW, this one was the first C-C-COMBO BREAKER!! I got after a literal week of getting the #4 Lt. Green packs across three different McDonald’s locations.
|PACK #4 — LT. GREEN: For seven days straight I got this little bugger. I can tell you what you get in it with my eyes closed! Uh… a coloring page?? … lol, jk; inside is a “Connect the Pokémon to its Pokéball”. Too bad that when you finish two, the third one is obvious. Or maybe not; maybe two Pokémon use the same Pokéball. I guess you’ll just have to find out for yourself!|
|PACK #4 — DK. GREEN: The inside puzzle is another maze, this time with Charmander. It’s kinda interesting how they mixed up the mazes a bit… one is a square maze, another was a circle maze, and this one is a hexagon maze. I mean, better that than just some boring uniform design, y’know?
BTW, this is the second of the two packs which I ultimately never got at an actual McDonalds, and so I ended up buying it—and everything else I missed—on eBay. This should complete the entire collection!
In each promo packs, you got one of four different “toys” of sorts. But they weren’t really toys per se, but more like paper-based prizes. Now which of the four prizes you get depends on the number on the outside of the pack, which I’ve listed below in order along with all the necessary pictures needed to get an idea of what you got. Curiously though, some of the toys were simple one-and-one affairs—like the #4 prize being a simple and singular card frame—while others ended up having a ton of variety to them—like the #2 and #3 stickers. You’ll see what I mean below.
I’ve also included measurement information for each item so you can get an idea of their size; they’re depicted in both SUPERIOR FREEDOM UNITS (aka inches) and metric millimeters (aka ew). In fact, if there was ever proof of one measurment system’s superiority over the other… well, you’re not gonna find it here.
I gotta admit, these prizes are really neat to get! The card box is kinda unique and might be one of those things that old fans might want to show off a decade or so down the road, and the stickers… well, stickers are ALWAYS useful. Stick ’em on your laptop, your phone, your car, your little brother while he’s asleep as you also wrap him to his bed using duct tape, your computer monitor… you can never go wrong with stickers! The card frame is admittedly the weakest, but only because of its limited functionality, other than showing off your most expensive cards at work. I mean, who needs them to be professionally graded when you have your McDonald’s card frame??
Quick Example Pictures
It might be a bit hard to imagine what these prizes look like from a mere scan of them before they’re actually assembled, so I’ve taken a few pictures of what they look like below.
Again, like previous McDonald’s Pokémon promotions, this promotion has its own unique set of cards. Here are a few quick tidbits about it:
- Each Happy Meal promo contains a single pack of four cards, one of which is holofoil
- The set icon looks like this:
- Meanwhile, every card has the “Pokémon 25” logo (pictured right) printed on the lower-right corner of the card’s main picture
- The holofoil card is added in separately from the other three normal cards, meaning it’s possible to get a holofoil version of a normal card in the same pack
- That said, there is an equal chance of getting ANY of the 25 Pokémon as a holofoil card. Meaning anyone who claims that a Holo Pikachu is the rarest holo of the set, or that the chances of getting a Holo Pikachu is 1 in a million… well they’re just pulling your leg.
- The cards themselves make up a 25-card set; this set is made up of all three starters from all eight generations (so 3 × 8 = 24), plus Pikachu.
- As seen below, the set is ordered first by type, then by generation.
- Oh, and for some reason, the cards basically use the “Sun & Moon” AND “BW/XY” card styles almost exclusively, except for the Gen 8 Starters. I don’t know why this is, unless they were all reprints and the designers were just too lazy to update all the cards to the current “Sword & Shield” format.
- Actually, by the looks of it, they simply took the most recent versions of these cards and released them as part of this set. If the last version of this card just happened to be released back in the BW-blank era, then that’s what’s released. Something like that.
- But hey, someone should redesign the set as if all the cards were designed using the “Sword & Shield” card style…
This is the full setlist of the McDonalds 2021 Pokémon TCG set, as well as what card they were originally sourced from:
|1/25||ZG||Bulbasaur||1||Sun/Moon||Shining Legends (2017)|
|2/25||ZG||Chikorita||2||Sun/Moon||Lost Thunder (2018)|
|3/25||ZG||Treecko||3||BW/XY||XY Black Star Promo (2014)|
|4/25||ZG||Turtwig||4||Sun/Moon||Ultra Prism (2018)|
|5/25||ZG||Snivy||5||BW/XY||BW Black Star Promo (2011)|
|6/25||ZG||Chespin||6||BW/XY||XY Black Star Promo (2013)|
|7/25||ZG||Rowlet||7||Sun/Moon||Sun & Moon (2017)|
|8/25||ZG||Grookey||8||SwSh||SwSh Black Star Promo (2019)|
|9/25||ZR||Charmander||1||Sun/Moon||Burning Shadows (2017)|
|10/25||ZR||Cyndaquil||2||Sun/Moon||Lost Thunder (2018)|
|11/25||ZR||Torchic||3||BW/XY||XY Black Star Promo (2014)|
|12/25||ZR||Chimchar||4||Sun/Moon||Ultra Prism (2018)|
|13/25||ZR||Tepig||5||BW/XY||BW Black Star Promo (2011)|
|14/25||ZR||Fennekin||6||BW/XY||XY Black Star Promo (2013)|
|15/25||ZR||Litten||7||Sun/Moon||Sun & Moon (2017)|
|16/25||ZR||Scorbunny||8||SwSh||SwSh Black Star Promo (2019)|
|17/25||ZW||Squirtle||1||Sun/Moon||Unbroken Bonds (2019)|
|18/25||ZW||Totodile||2||BW/XY||Phantom Forces (2014)|
|19/25||ZW||Mudkip||3||BW/XY||XY Black Star Promo (2014)|
|20/25||ZW||Piplup||4||Sun/Moon||Ultra Prism (2018)|
|21/25||ZW||Oshawott||5||BW/XY||BW Black Star Promo (2011)|
|22/25||ZW||Froakie||6||BW/XY||XY Black Star Promo (2013)|
|23/25||ZW||Popplio||7||Sun/Moon||Sun & Moon (2017)|
|24/25||ZW||Sobble||8||SwSh||SwSh Black Star Promo (2019)|
|25/25||ZL||Pikachu||n/a||Sun/Moon||Unified Minds (2019)|
If you want something more details than a mere card list… then check out the McDonald’s 2021 Set Spoiler List!
|№||Type||Name||Card Style||HP/RC||Cost||Attack Name||Dam||Text||W/R|
|2/25||ZG||Chikorita||Sun/Moon||70||G||Mini Drain||10||Heal 10 damage from this Pokemon||R|
|3/25||ZG||Treecko||BW/XY||60||G||Quick Attack||10||Flip a coin. If heads, this attack does 10 more damage.||R|
|Gen 4||CC||GGC||Razor Leaf||50|
|5/25||ZG||Snivy||BW/XY||60||GC||Slam||20x||Flip 2 coins. This attack does 20 damage times the number of heads.||R|
|Gen 6||C||GC||Seed Bomb||20|
|Gen 1||C||RC||Flame Tail||20|
|11/25||ZR||Torchic||BW/XY||60||R||Ember||20||Flip a coin. If tails, discard a R Energy attached to this Pokemon.||W|
|12/25||ZR||Chimchar||Sun/Moon||60||C||Fury Swipes||10x||Flip 3 coins. This attack does 10 damage for each heads.||W|
|13/25||ZR||Tepig||BW/XY||70||RC||Ember||30||Discard an Energy attached to this Pokemon.||W|
|Gen 6||C||RC||Live Coal||20|
|16/25||ZR||Scorbunny||SwSh||60||R||Super Singe||10||Flip a coin. If heads, your opponent’s Active Pokemon is now Burned.||W|
|17/25||ZW||Squirtle||Sun/Moon||60||W||Bubble||10||Flip a coin. If heads, your opponent’s Active Pokemon is now Paralyzed.||G|
|18/25||ZW||Totodile||BW/XY||60||W||Fury Strikes||10x||Flip 3 coins. This attack does 10 damage for each heads.||G|
|Gen 4||C||WC||Wave Splash||20|
|21/25||ZW||Oshawott||BW/XY||60||WC||Water Pulse||20||Flip a coin. If heads, your opponent’s Active Pokemon is now Asleep.||L|
|Gen 6||C||WC||Water Drip||20|
|Gen 7||C||WC||Water Gun||20|
|24/25||ZW||Sobble||SwSh||60||WC||Bind||20||Flip a coin. If heads, your opponent’s Active Pokemon is now Paralyzed.||L|
|25/25||ZL||Pikachu||Sun/Moon||60||L||Meal Time||Flip a coin until you get a tails. For each heads, draw a card.||F|
At some point in the near future, I’m going to make a “Strictly Better/Worse” list for these cards. For example, the Froakie and Piplup cards share almost literally the same stats and attacks, except Piplup has 70 HP while Froakie has only 60, making Piplup “strictly better” than Froakie. Piplup’s “strictly better” status is further emphasized by Piplup’s Lightning-type weakness, versus Froakie’s Grass-type weakness, given that there are eight Grass-type cards in the set but only one Lightning-type, Pikachu. Hopefully this example explains the “Strictly Better/Worse” concept, so I’ll try to get one done for every other card in this set. Keep an eye out for it soon!
“Print Run” Analysis
Before I say too much, I just want to say this: it’s not exactly possible to determine a “print run” for this set, by virtue of the fact that there are just so little cards to pull any kind of appreciable data from it.
HOWEVER! There is still a very interesting pattern with the packs of this set. That is to say… as mentioned above, a pack of McDonald’s cards contains four cards: one holofoil card and three randomly inserted cards. Now very early on I noticed that certain Pokémon would only appear in certain “slots” within those three randomly inserted cards. Like, Charmander would ALWAYS appear in the position after the holofoil, or a Fennekin would appear after that card, or Litten would appear as the last-most card. I took note of the cards I got in a pack and their position, and low-and-behold!, they actually DO follow a pack position pattern!
- For the sake of clarity, I will label the position of the pack as:
- HOLO: the first card in the pack
- (POSITION) A: the first nonholo card, the ones after the holo card
- (POSITION) B: the second nonholo card
- (POSITION) C: the third nonholo card, and the last card in the pack
Here’s a quick overview of my discovery:
|Number per slot||8||8||9|
Come think about it, this is kinda useless information… but I had hoped it would’ve fired up your imagination. But I guess if you thought you were going crazy because the same Pokémon appeared in the same position in different packs… well, you weren’t. Still though, it does make me wonder what a sheet of McDonald’s cards looks like. I imagine that it’s some multiple of 3 such that they always appear in their positions like this.
…I can’t get no… satis-FACT-shun!…
Okey dokey, that’s all I have to share at the moment. Hopefully my local McDonalds don’t sell out of all the Happy Meal promo packs, so that I can at least get once of each while supplies last! Good times.
BTW, I want to give thanks to everyone who has helped me fill in the gaps during the initial promotion, as well as BiggieJohn on the PA! Discord for letting me know that I missed quite a few different designs from the original run. Thanks everyone!!