In 2014, Percival R. Lugue was awarded a Guinness World Record for owning the “largest collection of fast food restaurant toys.” At the time, Lugue had 10,000 plastic tchotchkes—already a frightening number of tiny, faintly greasy-smelling objects to pack into your living space. Now, apparently encouraged by Guinness’s recognition to continue his valiant quest, Lugue has accumulated more than 20,000 fast food toys and built a second home that he’s dubbed the “Happy Meal House.”
To better understand what drives a man to such extremes, Vice interviewed Lugue about his trinket empire. Alongside photos of his crowded house in Pampanga, Philippines, the 50-year-old newspaper cartoonist and artist describes how a hobby that started with him getting a set of Popeye toys from Jolibee as a child has taken him down a long, salty path of non-stop fast food toy collecting.
His hoard has grown so big over the years that Lugue and his family ended up building a “separate house for his toy collection” whose design, in a real legitimacy boost for Rorschach tests, he thought looked like a Happy Meal box. The “Happy Meal House,” as Lugue calls it, is packed with a variety of toys that he says are “basically like a tapestry of my life.”
To keep the Happy Meal House’s insatiable appetite for toys at bay, Lugue regularly visits McDonald’s and Jollibee to get newly released items. He’s also developed tactics to maximize the toy-acquiring value of each restaurant visit, saying he invites friends with him so he can complete toy sets “without me necessarily eating all the fast food.” During the pandemic, Lugue has “made the best out of the situation by getting fast food delivered to his office to enjoy with his colleagues,” who, naturally, are encouraged to “get toys along with their orders.”
We can only imagine that McDonald’s tweeting existential Happy Meals messages has spurred Lugue on to continue his defiance of childhood’s end, one stinky little toy at a time.
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