So the news hit today that a county in California has banned fast food toys in some fashion. As someone who designed these toys for many years I’m of two minds on the subject.
First and foremost, it’s not really the government’s job to police what you are allowed to purchase if it is not harmful. Yes, childhood obesity is a pretty bad thing, and is even worse for our future than it is today (see: Wall-E). But I’d much rather see them crack down on the way things are cooked, the ingredients in them, and the choices being offered first. I do applaud that they at least try to make this make sense, and only take away toys from kids’ meals that exceed a certain calorie/fat level. But the sad fact is that pretty much all of them exceed that level.
What makes me not hate this altogether is that I think by leaning so heavily on licenses you are de facto bribing the kids to eat at your restaurant. Fast food places learned in the 1980s that kids are the one who make the decision where to eat in the family, and they saw that by dangling the best toy property in front of those kids they’ll win the battle. Dave Thomas never liked that Wendy’s had toys, because he wanted the food to stand on its own feet. But he was realistic enough to know that he couldn’t compete with McDonald’s and Burger King without them.
I think it you went back to having non-licensed toys that are once again just something to keep kids quiet and not used as a traffic builder/profit center it might make the licenses last a bit longer in the retail toy world instead of burning out so quick, and let creativity and craftsmanship rise in the fast food toys without having the license as a crutch. And maybe then parents and kids would pick the place to eat at that had the best food and not the coolest superhero of the month.