Happy birthday to Sonic the Hedgehog 3, which turns 25 years old today! As Sonic the Hedgehog mania reached fever pitch in February 1994 with playgrounds across the plane buzzing with Sonic 3 hype, with plentiful promotions abound (but the less we talk about that Right Said Fred single, the better!)
To coincide with the launch of the game in the US, branches of the fast food restaurant McDonalds launched their Sonic the Hedgehog Happy Meal promotion, with millions of Sonic the Hedgehog toys ready to be given away from Friday the 4th of February, alongside a sweepstake in which participants could win one of 10,000 copies of Sonic 3.
The toy set included a spring-loaded Sonic, a flying Tails, a wind-up Dr Robotnik in his Egg-o-matic, and Knuckles with a whirlwind punch action. A fifth toy, an alternative in the form of a yellow ball with a picture of Sonic on it, was also available upon request for children under the age of 3, for whom the spring-loaded toy was inappropriate for (these were generally not advertised and as such have become the rarer toy of the collection).
The promotion ran into problems, however. It was initially planned to run for a total of four weeks, with a different toy given away each week, yet only two weeks into the promotion, the entire stock of 40 million toys produced had been exhausted, such was the demand for the toys.
It took nearly a year for the same promotion to travel across the Atlantic to UK and European branches of McDonalds, which coincided more with the release of Sonic & Knuckles, and included a few changes to the US offering.
The Tails toy had been modified to have it’s flying action removed for safety reasons (undoubtedly Tails had flown into one to many faces in the US) and instead had rotating tails operated with a pull strip. The Happy Meal boxes in the UK were illustrated with artwork based on the backgrounds of Angel Island, Marble Garden, Ice Cap, and Launch Base Zone.
In Japan, Dr Robotnik’s model in the Egg-o-matic was replaced with the Dr Eggman model, removing the less-familiar westernised design for the Japanese market. Oddly, the Tails toy was completely omitted from the line in Japan, and instead replaced with Grimace (the weird purple monster who hangs around with Ronald McDonald).
While the McDonalds Sonic 3 promotion wasn’t either the first or last Sonic-themed fast food outing, it was by far the most popular!
Do you have any fond memories of the Sonic 3 McDonalds promotion? Let us know in the comments!