(written from a Production point of view)
McDonald's Corporation is the world's largest chain of fast food restaurants.
In 1979 McDonald's ran a promotional ad that tied in the release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture with their Star Trek Meal. The offer was valid at participating McDonald's and lasted until February 1980 (or until supplies lasted).
The advertisement was presented by an actor dressed as a Klingon speaking in Klingonese, and a voice-over announcer promoting the Happy Meal consisting of a regular hamburger, fries, soft drink, a McDonaldland cookie sampler, and a Star Trek prize.
Six different Happy Meal boxes were released (officially, the count is five, but there were two versions of the box featuring Spock), each featuring movie-inspired artwork, puzzles, and a short comic strip, created by artist Ron Villani, depicting a key action scene in the film. Each box had two jokes, including, for example:
- Q. What's most important when transporting "Bones"?
- A. To get the real McCoy.
The prize included with the meal consisted of a black or gray plastic "video communicator" that, when assembled, could be used to scroll the comic strip that was included, "secret compartment" rings (molded with images of Kirk, Spock and the movie Starfleet insignia), iron-on sheets featuring movie-inspired graphics and characters, toy versions of the USS Enterprise, K't'inga-class cruiser, long range shuttle, drydock, air tram, orbital office complex, travel pod, and the Epsilon IX station, and the board game Star Trek: Starfleet.
Video communicator comics
Each installment was eight illustrated panels in length and concluded with "Thus ends another chapter in the saga of the U.S.S. Enterprise." In each strip, the Enterprise is depicted in it's pre-refit configuration.
#1 - "Star Trek Stars"
This comic was a brief introduction to the Enterprise, its crew, and its mission. The Enterprise is described as the "command ship of the Federation". Decker and Ilia are aboard, and the ship is en route to stop an alien force speeding toward Earth, likely V'Ger.
#2 - "A Pill Swallows the Enterprise"
Captain Kirk is awakened from sleep and informed that the Enterprise has been enveloped in a capsule. Spock is at a loss to explain it, and the construct is impervious to phasers. Suddenly, the crew see a "heavy Delphus meteor" approaching. Concluding that a "retro blast" would be ineffective, the crew braces for impact. The meteor is stopped by the capsule, which then dematerializes, and Spock concludes that they have a good friend out there.
#3 - "Time. And Time. And Time Again."
Kirk and Spock prepare to beam Uhura down to the planet Turages. The equipment malfunctions, and she materializes in 172 billion BC, confronted by a gigantic beast. She then appears in a rectangular construct drifting near a star in the year 21,000, using her communicator to send the message that she is "three solar systems ahead". Spock discovers that the transporter has been sabotaged. Uhura appears on home plate in Yankee Stadium in the year 1940, holding a bat, and surmising that the Klingons must be behind her predicament. She is then beamed back to the transporter pad of the Enterprise, along with her bat, with Spock quipping that "it was just a matter of time."
#4 - "Votec's Freedom"
- "Captain's Log, stardate 10:18:4. We land on Moonsek, and meet the last of the Mrogars."
Kirk and Spock beam down and meet Votec. He recalls how he fought in a war against the Nozda, and stayed behind to allow his people to escape. He was captured, and determined never to tell where his people were. Spock says that he can break Votec's chains with his new "ultra laser", and Votec plans to rejoin his people.
#5 - "Starlight, Starfright"
On a viewscreen, Kirk shows McCoy subplanet 897-JOJ. McCoy is then abducted by transporter and is informed that a Doctor is need for experiments. Spock offer that the Argontrons are afraid of darkness, so the Enterprise arranges for darkness and rescues McCoy with a shuttlecraft.