The top-selling toys have included Hot Wheels race cars in 1983, the 1997 release of Teenie Beanie Babies and the "Barbie Loves McDonald's" play set in 1982. McDonald's has included toys in Happy Meals since they were first introduced 1979.

The first toys featured in a Happy Meal were small rubber space aliens called Diener Keshi. The figures became so popular that McDonald's commissioned several more sets, which included monsters, sea creatures, safari animals and dinosaurs.

Many Happy Meal toys include promotional merchandise from popular children's films, comics and toy manufacturers. Figurines from Disney films, such as "101 Dalmatians," "Beauty and the Beast," "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" and "Frozen," are among the most popular Happy Meal toys.

Many popular children's TV programs have also been featured in Happy Meals, including "Looney Tunes," "My Little Pony," and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."

A few toys featured in Happy Meals have stirred public controversy. In 1992, for example, some parents criticized McDonald's for releasing a set of "Batman Returns" action figures, claiming the toys promoted a movie which was not appropriate for small children. The music group Devo sued McDonald's for copyright infringement in 2007 for its American Idol toy called "New Wave Nigel."