First, a quick re-cap: This is my third year covering the release of these pails, and I think McDonalds nailed it this year.
In 2010 the Halloween Pails returned to McDonald's after a looooong absence (back when they were called "McBoo Pails").
The new release had a Mr. Potato Head theme, with handles that doubled as masks. The handles had traditional Halloween themes of a skull and pumpkin and the buckets came in green and orange.
Personally, I loved the handles but could care less about Mr. Potato Head even if he was in a decoratable Halloween scene complete with stickers. You can read my full write-up HERE.
In 2011, the pails returned and it was as if the McDonald's magicians had listened to me. Gone was Mr. Potato Head, and kept were the mask/handles. The buckets remained orange and green.
Downside: there was only one style of handle--- a black cat. Though the handle was either black or purple (depending on your bucket), the absence of one of the previous handles was felt. You can read about them HERE.
In 2012 we get a new licensed property, and multi-colored buckets and handles, but gone are the masks.
Let's over-analyze and talk way too much about them now.
Scooby-Doo adds "Halloween Pail" to his ---can't believe I'm going to type this--- BUCKET list (I'm dying inside) and, frankly, I think it's a perfect fit. Even as a kid I knew I was NOT into Mr. Potato Head, but Scooby-Doo was always associated with monsters and ghosts in my brain.
This year McDonald's gives us THREE buckets in white, light green and a purple-blue (which I will henceforth refer to as 'midnight blue' because it sounds Halloweeny). The green seems to be the same shade as previous pails, but perhaps it's more "Mystery Machine" green.
I don't have the paint chips to check.
As a fan of the original McBoo Pails, and especially the white ghosts, I'm happy to see the white pail appear and really, really love the midnight blue. That's my favorite. But more on that in a bit.
The "mask handles" are gone this year, replaced with a similar bat-like Scooby-Doo logo and come in black, orange and white.
I miss the novelty fun of the mask handles, but definitely think the SD logo looks appropriate over each bucket.
As I've mentioned in the past, I think the pail size is uniform from year to year, so theoretically, you could pop the skull handle off of a 2010 bucket and put it on the 2012 bucket.
I'm an idea man.
McDonald's has also gone and given each pail its own identity in the activity associated with the side. All three have sticker-sheet lids as before, but each pail is for a different purpose: the white pail has a Scooby-Doo Disguise sticker sheet. Scooby has various poses and you stick various hat, mustaches and monocles on them to 'dress him up in disguise.' Though I love the clean look of the white bucket with the black bat-like handle, and the small splashes of Halloween orange behind our lovable mutt, the activity is too close to Mr. Potato Head for me to care. Kids will probably love it.
The green bucket or "Mystery Machine" pail is made to look like a rounded version of the classic spook-chasing-mobile. You're given a sticker sheet to decorate the van complete with a Scooby to drape out the window, 60s-tastic flowers and lots of cool monster masks to post over the shoulder of the clearly zoinking Shaggy and Scooby. My definite 2nd favorite.
Last and certainly not the least is the midnight blue (I'm owning that color) "Search and Find" pail.
My 8-year-old self is ga-ga over this one. Not only do I get the midnight blue bucket, with a spooky white ghost handle, but there's a great scrolling scene of the gang with flashlight surveying the creepy night. The sticker sheet allows you to find objects and then sticker them with a very action-bubble POW! shape around them to call them out. I LOVED Seek and Finds as a kid. A+ on this one McDonald's.
As usual, there's a digital tie-in with Scooby-Doo Flash games other fun (remember McWorld?) over HERE on the official Happy Meal mini-site.
All in all, I'm really digging the Halloween Pails this year. I would buy all three. I say "would" as I haven't ventured out to get mine yet. Word on the street is that they're rolling these out slowly so only one bucket per week leading up to Halloween, forcing you to return to McDonald's at least three times to collect 'em all.
Which for me, means THREE ORDERS OF CHICKEN TENDERS AND BUFFALO SAUCE.
Get 'em before they're G-O-N-E!