I recently bought my daughter a Wendy’s Kids Meal and was pleasantly surprised to see a quality construction toy inside instead of the usual movie tie-in. I also recognized the toy from my meeting with the inventor while exhibiting at a late 90’s Toy Fair.
These Wendy’s Smart Links were then known as PowerRings by Fun Source of Irvine, CA, but now reborn as a shiny new burger toy. PowerRings sets came in three sizes: 84 pieces, 196 pieces, and 384 pieces (SKU 1203 UPC 631477012038).
I pulled the 384 piece set from our archive and recalled meeting the South American inventor. According to the USPTO trademark database, “PowerRings Nature’s Building Blocks” was registered by an Argentinian, Ernesto D Gyurec in 1994 (and cancelled in 2002). The Fun Source company also appears to be defunct, although USPTO shows the Fun Source mark filed in 1996 (and cancelled 2005) by Strottman International, Inc., a well-regarded provider of kids meal premiums and other promotional products.
The Smart Links package contained 11 connectors (plus a paper insert to suggest imaginative play uses) which are almost identical to the PowerRings triangle, square, rhombus pieces … only slightly larger. Given the number of posts about the Smart Links elsewhere online (and their listing on Amazon.com and eBay), I’d say these toys are making a lot of kids happy. It’s too bad they were not successful as a stand-alone brand but burger toys are among the best ways to profit in the toy business and often become collectible.