Thanks to my kids, I have become addicted in new vices that I never imagined I would ever want to partake. And to make matters worse, I may have corrupted their minds...at least in the way they approach the world of collecting. And while I wish I could have done this with baseball cards, I'm pretty thrilled with what they've been occupying themselves with lately.
The first one is the Lego Minifigures. Yes, I know other bloggers are into them. And I have bought these in the past for my kids whenever we were near the Lego store. But now it has become an obsession for the three of us. Ever since we bought the book...
that featured the first seven series of figures, it has now become the goal of the kids (and in effect, me) to complete the next series going forward. That would be series 8...
and now we are a football player, scuba diver, skier, and Santa Claus away from finishing the 16-figure set.
My kids have even learned how to "figure" out how to tell what character they're holding by feeling for the object each person holds (sadly, I taught them this). Yes, it is a form of pack-searching, which is unethical in the world of sport card collecting, but seems to be an accepted practice when searching out for figurines of this sort. Now I'm not endorsing this practice whatsoever, but I compare this to being able to see through packs of cards when Topps sold them in plastic packaging (that period of time from 1992-1995 between the wax wrappers and the current foil-like packaging).
Now series 9, which was supposed to arrive in stores in January, arrived at the Lego Store in time for Christmas...
We bought six, (we are now the proud owners of the Knight, the Actress, the Judge, the Gypsy, the Plumber, and the Alien Avenger) and now they want more (Series 10, for those keeping track, comes out in March/April). I will only start to panic if they ask me to go on the Bay and look for past series.
My son started with Papa's Burgeria, where you had to take orders from customers and build their burgers to their exact specifications (even if it is three layers of onions, one well done burger, and then three more layers of onions). You have to take orders, cook the burgers, and then make the burgers without making the customers wait too long to get their orders and then give them their food. Now, at first he was having trouble with keeping track of when customers come in and cooking the burgers without burning them. So his sister and I started to help. And then we got hooked. Then we discovered more of these games.
There is Papa's Pizzaria (which was the first game...if you don't count Papa Louie's When Pizzas Attack!), then the Burgeria, which is followed (in chronological order) by Taco Mia!, Freezeria, Pancakeria, Wingeria, and Hot Doggeria (in which the "restaurant" is located in a baseball stadium). All feature the same concept of taking orders, building food to each individual's specs, and then serving it to them in the hopes that the like it and give us tips so that we can buy upgrades, posters, furniture, and clothing.
To make matters worse, we noticed that many of the "customers" frequented almost all of the restaurants. So after playing Burgeria and moving on to Wingeria, for example, if we saw a customer from the previous game, we would say to each other out loud,
"Hey, it's Big Pauly," (yes, Flipline even made virtual trading cards for each of their characters complete with bios) or
"Rita just ended her shift and wants wings."
Believe it or not, my kids and I can tell you the name of almost everybody in the picture above, even the ones all the way in the back that are still in the stadium.
As it became an obsession (at least to me), I started reading (not fanfiction) the official stories behind some of Louie's customers (which you can find either on the official site or in a Wikia made by their fans). So now we know that a few of them are based on real people (Matt and Tony are the developers, Mandi is Tony's wife, Doan is a college classmate), that Alberto and Penny are dating thanks to both working at the Freezeria, that Xolo and Xandra are twins (there was a vote as to whether or not to make them siblings or put them into a relationship...the sibling choice won), and that Flipline has had their fans select via voting tournaments the next restaurant workers from the pool of customers who have frequented each of the restaurants (which is how Cooper and Prudence became the workers in the Pancakeria, as well as how Taylor and Peggy were picked for the Hot Doggeria game).
No normal human being should know more about the characters of a kids computer game series than the people who live down the street. But here we are.
Whether it's the Lego Miniseries (which we now have display cases...HELP!!! AGAIN!!!), or the following day at the Wingeria (we are now at day 77, and still no end in sight to finish the game), it's all in fun. Both of these things have given me and my kids something to bond over and talk about other than "How's school?"
Now, if you excuse me, I have five orders of wings and strips in the deep fryer, two rare burgers on the grill, and four shakes in blenders that need to be watched because everyone want them chunky, not smooth...whatever that means.