I really can’t vouch for whatever rock you may be currently living under, but over the last few days there’s been some groundbreaking revelations from some of our favorite junk food brands on Twitter. Mtn. Dew VooDew was officially revealed to be candy corn flavored, the first Colorado In N’ Out will be built in Ft. Collins, and McDonald’s will be handing out retro vintage toys in Happy Meals for four whole days during November!
I unblocked and reached out to McDonald’s to determine if they were going to go full scale and offer these throwbacks inside the king of Happy Meal containers: Ship Shape Happy Meals. They said that manufacturing these en masse are not environmentally feasible in this day and age. This revelation definitely bummed me out. The only thing these nostalgia-filled happy meals will offer are retro toys pulled from the 40 years that they’ve diligently worked to give you a plastic prize that is forgotten precisely 12 seconds after opening.
On the other hand, Ship Shape Happy Meals debuted in the summer of 1983 and featured four drastically different molds that you could collect. They are two piece plastic clamshells, and inside they held a cheeseburger, fries, and sticker sheet and nothing else because the fuckin’ box they came in was the toy! These could actually float on water which already made them 20 times more legit than any of the McNugget buddies.
This was not the first time McDonald’s had pulled off a promotion like this, as they also made billions of Dukes Of Hazzard Happy Meal containers in 1980, but I only vaguely remember those, and they are both hard and expensive to come by these days. On top of the rarity, there’s also the whole Confederate thing flag going on the roof of the General Lee. I’m not entirely sure if the “Heritage, not Hate” clause applies to cheaply made plastic burger tubs.
Since Ship Shapes were completely off the table for the 2019 revival, I opted instead to just buy a compete set of these on eBay for $20. Now, I get it, twenty bucks may seem steep for 4 plastic cheeseburger containers, but as far as nostalgic power goes, these have still have quite a bit of magic in them. I love them and they are seemingly irresistible to the younger generation as well since my 4 year old is absolutely bonkers for the ships, and has already uploaded a reveal video to his YouTube channel. The set that I bought off the internet was in really good shape, despite only having the original stickers attached to half of the boats. Overall, this is a minor gripe as I’m mostly just happy these were stored inside a house that didn’t reek of cat piss and cigars.
These are all great, but alas, not all ships are built the same! Here’s the definitive ranking list of the Ship Shape Happy Meals!
4. Splash Dancer
While this would have been my top pick as a kid (and is the top choice from all the children of my brood), I just find the simple triangular lines to be a bit uninspired. This particular Happy Meal holds the highest amount of internal volume, and it also has the most complete sticker set out of the four I bought. This one also has the most damage, as the nose is kinda dinged up from falling inside a box of old Penthouse issues in 1987. This is the only boat in the Ship Shapes that cannot be interchanged with the other boats since this boat is shaped like a sad Dorito. Splash Dancer is still the fastest looking boat of the bunch, even if the boat captain happens to look like Sex Offender Hamburglar.
3. Ronald’s Riverboat
This neat little boat is a clapback to the olden days of yore, when in order to get anywhere, you had to travel by a slow as balls steam-powered paddleboat. This boat is the Tom Sawyer of the Ship Shapes, and also came with the most intense sticker set of all the boats (not pictured). Every panel and every window had a specific sticker that had to be installed in the correct order to show the story of Birdie running a crooked baccarat table on the casino level and getting busted by Lieutenant Big Mac. It’s strangely very close to the same story as Titanic, but with much less drawing people like one of your French girls, and instead with plenty more diabetes and childhood obesity. I’ve almost thought about buying a replacement sticker sheet for this boat (they sell these separately on eBay too) but I doubt that 40 year old stickers covered in burger grease really deserve a street value of fifteen bucks.
2. Grimace’s Tubby Tugger
This boat, hands-down, has the best name. The Tubby Tugger is also something that you can purchase from the Orchids of Asia Day Spa for a mere 20 dollars. This is the other boat in my collection that has an almost complete sticker set applied, and from what I can tell, there’s certainly a lot going on inside this tugboat (completely nonsexual because them Fry Guys are underage!) Truth be told, there are a LOT of cartoon characters on this boat, and none of them look like they are doing anything remotely nautical. Kids are stupid, anyways.
The Tubby Tugger (feel free to copy and paste your own Robert Kraft joke here) is the most low-slung of all the boats, and in order to fit a complete meal inside here, you have to have to have some serious Tetris skills. There’s not a whole lot else to say about this boat, I just remember popping in the three mooring posts in the front inward as a kid and I watched as that broke apart the plastic over time. I’m having a hard time believing that I was only able to pull off two slim paragraphs about a boat called a “Tubby Tugger”. I must be slipping in my old age, just like Robert Kraft and his notepad full of NDA forms.
1. Captain Hook’s Rub-A-Dub Sub
Well, I may have a slight bias here as I have an undeniable love all things submarine related. My favorite Disneyland ride was 10,000 Leagues Under the Sea and not any of that Finding Nemo bullshit they have in it’s place now. I love watching Das Boot and U-571 whenever I’m in the mood for a tension-packed thriller. I’ve even ridden inside a real submarine in the British Virgin Islands! I just love everything about a vessel that can prowl underneath the waves, waiting for the proper moment to strike.
Even though this boat lacks stickers, it’s my favorite because even though it’s missing all the McDonaldland shenanigans going on inside the portholes. I love the fact it is Kawasaki Green and is shaped like the kind of cartoon sub that a Captain Planet villain would ride around in. I love the smallest level of details in this boat, you can see the bulkhead fitments and riveting. It’s cool that they put some real effort into making these. As a kid, I’m pretty sure I held onto this one the longest and it may have even survived a few years. I actually remember playing with this one the most in the bathtub, and this battle hardened sub carried many battalions of G.I. Joes to their watery graves.
I hope these brought back some repressed memories for you. Out of all the “nostalgia” crap I’ve sunk money into over the last few months, these have been the best bang for the buck (even though they look kind of weird inside that locked glass display case I keep them in)!