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The Pokémon Happy Meal at McDonald’s is getting ruined by greedy adults

Good luck finding any!

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Pikachu’s new hairstyle in in Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! Image: The Pokémon Company/Nintendo

Right now, select McDonald’s are celebrating the 25th anniversary of Pokémon with a promotion that turns the iconic Happy Meal box into Pikachu’s face. Bundled with this cherubic container are 50 collectible cards, including some rarer holographic cards. And some people are mass buying Happy Meals to get their hands on them.

Pokémon cards are such a hot commodity that some fans say they’re having a hard time buying booster packs at big retailers. Nearly every week, there’s a new record broken for the dollars people are spending on old-school packs — and new scams to go along with that commotion.

The McDonald’s promotion, in other words, never stood a chance. Folks are waking up early to stake out what McDonald’s are selling the new Happy Meals. Some are apparently buying the Happy Meals in mass numbers in the hopes of getting all the collectibles, and just throwing out the food. Some McDonald’s are even placing restrictions on buying the Happy Meals, though scalpers are reportedly already turning around and selling the individual cards for a markup. Some customers are going around to multiple restaurants, unable to find a single Happy Meal. On websites like eBay, entire boxes of the cards or sealed packs are going for hundreds of dollars. It’s unclear if the boxes are being bought behind the scenes, or if they’re being swiped by employees.

Reached for comment, McDonald’s told Polygon that the company is trying to address Pokémon card shortages. The company said in a statement:

With such significant demand for our promotional Pokémon TCG cards, and some fans even going to extreme lengths to get them, we’re working quickly to address shortages and also strongly encouraging restaurants to set a reasonable limit on Happy Meals sold per customer. We want to offer the full Happy Meal experience to as many families as possible, and help ensure everyone is able to get in on the fun!

The company confirmed it is working with its supply chain to distribute more cards to restaurants with low stock, while also providing back-up toys to affected stores. The company also said that some stores may, at times, accommodate customers’ reasonable requests for a la carte toy purchases, though it does not condone the reselling of the toys through unauthorized channels.

Granted, you don’t have to be a kid to appreciate a toy, and Pokémon nostalgia is squarely the realm of adults. Plus, not everyone is being a scalper or hoarder! Some folks are trying to do some good even as they buy multiple packs.

Some mass buyers are even experiencing a healthy dose of karma. But it’s wild to see the fervor around the cards reach such a fever pitch that actual kids probably won’t be able to get a product partially made for them, too. McDonald’s did not immediately provide Polygon with a comment.

Update (Feb. 11): This story has been updated with comment and additional details from McDonald’s.