- Percival R. Lugue, holds the world record for owning the biggest collection of fast-food toys.
- To accommodate them he bought a home that resembled a familiar shape: a McDonald's Happy Meal box.
- Insider spoke to Lugue about his toy collection and the drawbacks he faced as a result of COVID-19.
- See more stories on Insider's business page.
In 2014, Percival R. Lugue became the first person to receive a Guinness World Record title for having the largest collection of fast-food restaurant toys, having amassed a mammoth 10,000 items.
Nearly seven years later, Lugue, who is based in the Philippines, told Insider his collection has likely doubled: "My rough estimate of the total fast food toys at hand would be more than 20,000."
Collecting toys, for Lugue, is nothing new, since his profound interest dates to when he was five years old.
During the 80s, various fast-food restaurants started popping up all over the Philippines, including in his home province.
Lugue explained: "This paved the opportunity for me to continue with my toy collection without putting a strain in my pocket." Being a college student at the time, Lugue said he had a very limited budget "but when I saw the set Popeye toys from Jollibee, I took a plunge, and the rest, as they say, is history."
Since then, Lugue has "religiously collected" all the fast-food toys that come out from fast-food chains including but not limited to Jollibee, McDonald's, Wendy's, and Burger King.
When asked how he stores 20,000 toys while living with his parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews, Lugue said he took a joint decision with his family to build another house. I
It became increasingly difficult for Lugue and his family to tread a path around the house because "every nook and cranny of [his ancestral home] was packed with fast food toys."
But now, all the toys are strategically displayed on the walls of Lugue and his family's new home, so as to not hinder traffic in the household.
Commenting on the outer appearance of the new house, Lugue said he saw a familiar silhouette in its architecture. "Although it was never intentional, the house turned out to look like a gigantic Happy Meal Box except for the Golden arches on top, when it was finished." Since then, Lugue said he always endearingly refers to that house as a "Happy Meal house."
"I said to myself, 'what a perfect receptacle for these fast food toys,'" he added.
As for why he collects toys, Lugue explained that each piece would represent a vivid story in his life.
"They are like mementos of very special meals I shared with people who are very important to me." One such toy is the Hetty Spaghetti, which Lugue bought with his mother way back in the 80s. "My mother passed on a couple of years ago and seeing and touching this same Hetty toy transported me to the place and time where both my mom and I shared a special happy moment."
For Lugue, his collectibles are an "awesome tapestry" of his life, where each toy has a happy story to tell. And now, acquiring a toy from every visit to a fast-food restaurant has become "non-negotiable" for Lugue. "I have to buy a toy just so I may be able to encapsulate or immortalize that fun rendezvous in a fast food restaurant with friends and family," he added.
Over the years, Lugue developed a methodical way to obtain toys that is not only easy on his wallet but also his diet. First, he would go with his family to Jollibee once a month to complete the set of toys that were on offer. This would be followed by a monthly visit to McDonald's by Lugue and his friends, where they would collect toys to complete the set of Happy Meal Toys.
"Basically, it's just two visits to fast-food restaurants per month. With a little help from my friends and family, we get to enjoy a meal together which is in no way detrimental to our health and I get to keep all the toys from all the Happy Meals and Jolly Meals."
When asked whether the COVID-19 pandemic affected the growth of his toy collection, Lugue said he wasn't stopped from acquiring more pieces. In fact, his immense love for toys allowed him to work around a global pandemic to add to his stash.
He made the best out of the situation by ordering food deliveries to his office and getting his colleagues into buying meals with toys on offer. "I was able to convince my colleagues into buying Happy Meals in one of our dinners. In just one delivery, I was able to complete the set of Doraemon toys, which are currently being offered here in McDonald's," he said.
"It was a most unusual set-up but a happy one nonetheless."