The Great McDonald’s Holiday Train Toy Hunt

I know we are not supposed to give into everything our kids want. Yet, once December hit, I felt like all I heard was, “I want this!” or “Ooooh, Mommy, I need THAT!” My 4-year-old son has even talked in his sleep about his Christmas wish list. His enthusiasm and passion for all the things has been clear, relentless and unwavering; it has been a daily occurrence for me to have to resist the pleas and requests and sweet “Mommy, you’re so pretty” comments meant to butter me up to buy him stuff (ok, so these have worked some of the time because, hey, thanks for telling me I’m pretty. Now feed me fajitas as well and I’ll do whatever you want!).

Anyway, what kind of blindsided me the most so far this month was being sucked into an incessant hunt for holiday train toys at McDonald’s. Oh my gosh, I was unexpectedly thrust into a Happy Meal holiday train toy voyage, and I didn’t even see it coming!

It started one day when I picked him up from preschool, and he told me he was hungry. “I have a GREAT idea, mommy!” he jubilantly belted out with big, excited eyes and an exuberant tone. “Let’s go to McDonald’s and get a HAPPY MEAL!”

I gave in to his “great idea” because, well, I’m generally in the best mood ever in December (I mean, with my birthday, Christmas, presents, glittery things, lots of parties, people trying to be nice, etc., what is not to like about this month? Tee hee). And ok, ok, I’ll also own up to the fact I am not always good at resisting my cute little guy, either. I do need to work on saying “no” more often (and not just to him), as well as resisting those deliciously delightful $1 Diet Cokes from McDonald’s. But c’mon now, they just do not taste nearly as good anywhere else! It’s like science or something.

Anyhoo, so, of course, once he got his little red box o’ happiness, he ignored the food and immediately reached for the tantalizing train toy so beautifully wrapped up inside the plastic packaging.

“It’s a TRAINNNNNNN!” he screamed, begging for me to open it up.

And that was it. With one simple visit to McDonald’s for the greatly-coveted Happy Meal, we were suddenly deep in the unimaginable depths of Minion tank cars and Beanie Babies trains, with no signs of stopping until we had all 12 in the collection.

Collecting the toys was on his brain day and night.

“Mommy, do you have a surpriiiiiiise train for me?!” he excitedly inquired when I picked him up from preschool each time.

Dear. Goodness. It was madness! Yet, his extremely visible drive and unyielding passion to collect these little perfect plastic toys was contagious, and ultimately rubbed off on me. #momlife

I was determined that, YES, we will do this! We will collect ALL of them! CHOO CHOOOOOOOOO!

Transformers and My Little Pony and Hot Wheels, oh my! And don’t forget about the Jurassic World dinosaur one! Or Barbie, or the little pig one from Sing (I think)! They were all cute, so I didn’t even care; it became about collecting all of them so my son was happy and so I felt the victory of completing the collection!

Whoever devised this marketing plan is a genius; the trains cater to both genders and cover so many popular themes.

Like most kids his age, my son is all about instant gratification, and I love surprising him; yet, a challenge was to secure all of the trains without him knowing, or without me getting so excited to give them to him before Christmas and thus ruin the surprise.

My 4-year-old even suggested we create a checklist to keep track of which toys we had and which ones we still needed. He was ALL IN, and I was trying to keep up and maintain my secret purchases because now things were getting real. I mean, some of these toys moved and made noise, so we had to have them all, right? Right?! Once this proverbial train got started, there was no turning back. We were keeping this train hunt directly on the tracks and never looking back!

But, things got a little complicated. First of all, I didn’t want him eating a Happy Meal all the time, and I wasn’t sure if they would let me buy just the toy on its own. And, not every location had all the trains we still needed! Eek!

The first problem was solved, because oh yeah, they did sell just the trains! They even had a button at the register for that, so woo hoo! For the bargain price of almost $2 (sarcasm), I could buy the toy and skip the meal o’ happiness and not healthiness.

My biggest victory was getting the Jurassic World one for only $1! I guess some locations jacked up the price just in time for the holidays, so to get one for a dollar at a random location made me squeal, “Sweet chicken!”

The second problem, securing the variety of trains, involved me having to make a few calls to area McDonald’s to figure out who had the darn dinosaur one and who had the Beanie Babies one and so forth. Sigh. But it worked! I was able to get the ones he was missing. Research, albeit silly train toy research, does pay off, my friends! I don’t always get addicted to collecting toy trains from McDonald’s, but when I do, I do it with patience and perseverance amidst workers who think I am absolutely crazy for calling them to pin them down about which Happy Meal toys their location carries. Hee hee.

Regardless of the crazy I unleashed on our area McDonald’s, ultimately both problems were solved, and I will have one elated little boy on Christmas morning when he finds the last of his four train toys from the collection in his stocking.

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