The overnight queues that used to sprout up when McDonald’s released new limited edition toys here were nowhere to be seen on Thursday (Sept 8), when the fast food giant launched its new Pikachu carrier.
Short queues began to form at some restaurants about 30 minutes to an hour before the 11am launch, though McDonald’s employees had put up queue poles as early as two hours prior in anticipation of crowds.
When The Straits Times visited several McDonald’s outlets across the island on Thursday morning, there was no hive of activity beyond the usual breakfast crowd.
While some customers had intended to queue overnight for the holders modelled in the likeness of the iconic electric mouse, the restaurant’s employees had encouraged them to return in the morning as queue tickets would only be given out closer to 11am.
At around 10am, some customers could be seen enquiring about the release and joining the queue at McDonald’s outlets such as at the Jem shopping mall in Jurong and the one at Ang Mo Kio Hub.
At the Hillion Mall restaurant, the first person in line was a 36-year-old engineering lecturer from Singapore Polytechnic who wanted to be known as Miss Yu.
She was at the outlet at 9am, but there was no one else in line.
Miss Yu, who had previously collected the Hello Kitty and My Melody Carriers said: “It’s already past 10am and there’s no one. It seems like Pikachu isn’t even as popular as Hello Kitty?” she said.
“Personally, I love Pikachu. I can do without My Melody and Hello Kitty, but I must have the Pikachu (carrier).”
Miss Yu saud she did not expect the queue to be as long as for the earlier carriers, but she did not expect it be so quiet either.
“But it’s a good thing. If people started queuing at 4am or 5am, I would have to buy it on Carousell,” she said, referring to the online marketplace.
At the Ang Mo Kio Hub outlet, restaurant staff said they had 387 sets for grabs, and that stocks would not be replenished once sold out.
By 10.30am, there were 12 people in the line. The first, was Miss Carine Heng, a 48-year-old logistics executive who arrived just before 10 am. She said that she was buying the Carrier for her six- year-old nephew who is “crazy about Pokemon”.
“It is a surprise for him. He collects trading cards and soft toys,” she said. “I did not plan to be first, but since I am here and since they have put up the poles I decided to queue.”
In response to media queries on its preparations ahead of the launch, a McDonald’s Singapore spokesperson said its ticketing system will help manage crowd capacity, although a ticket alone does not guarantee availability of a Pikachu carrier.
“The tickets will help us manage and advise how many carriers are left for sale,” said the spokesperson.
McDonald’s previous launches of limited edition toys have sparked collectors’ frenzy.
In 2000, the fast-food chain launched a 40-day Wedding Design Hello Kitty toy promotion, based on the popular Japanese feline icon Hello Kitty and its companion, Dear Daniel. The pair came in six designs and 400,000 sets of each design were produced.
The promotion is remembered for sparking a queuing frenzy by thousands of people, as the long lines for the Hello Kitty toys became hotspots for frayed nerves that led to some unruly behaviour, as well as spats among impatient customers.
The 2013 release of Hello Kitty in fairy tale costumes also famously drew long queues and fisticuffs, as some patrons jostled to get their hands on black-and-white The Singing Bone Hello Kitty plushies.
The fast food chain has experimented with online purchases of its previous toy launches in a bid to quell the queues. In 2013, it offered a deferred fulfilment option for customers to order figurines from the hit animated movie Despicable Me 2, and again in 2014 when it launched another set of Hello Kitty plush toys.