It started off innocent enough. Maybe you got one in your stocking this year because you’re really into Game of Thrones. Perhaps you saw one at Barnes & Noble that gave your heartstrings one of those nostalgic tugs: “Oh, I used to love Frankenberry!” Somehow — some way — you’ve acquired a Funko Pop Vinyl Figure and god save your soul if you’re the type of person who collects things. As a collector, once those bug-eyed bastards make it to your desk, mantle or shelf, the trap is sprung and your wallet is the prey.
Funko was founded in 1998 in Snohomish, Washington, by T-shirt designer and toy enthusiast Mike Becker. He originally established the company to put bobbleheads, banks and hand puppets of nostalgia-friendly characters like Popeye, Dick Tracy and famous cereal mascots back in the marketplace. In 2005 a former nightclub owner and toy collector, Brian Mariotti, bought the company and began working to create the Funko Pop Vinyl “look” to be the face of the Funko Brand.
Mariotti debuted the iconic, simply stylized, 3.75” tall, round-edged, square-headed, button-like black eyed, no-mouthed figures at the 2010 San Diego ComicCon. Showing just three DC Comics character prototypes (Green Lantern, Batgirl and two versions of Batman), he was met with mixed reactions but decided to push forward with producing the product. Using Funko’s three main licenses (DC, Marvel and Star Wars), the Funko Pop line was underway and in no time the company had managed to secure 25 more licenses.
With the increased variety of product, Funko Pop Vinyl Figures grew out of the comic book and collector shops and moved into big-box and mainstream online retailers. With the growth of the product line, so also grew their fan-driven online presence. This came to a head when the cast of Game of Thrones started posing with their corresponding Funko Pop figures on social media.
The rest is history.
Funko Pop Vinyl Figures are readily available. You can find them anywhere and everywhere, from Amazon to 7-11 convenience stores. They come with a $9.99 price tag, cheap enough for children while half the price of what hardcore collectors would spend. And the iconic template of the Funko Pop Vinyl itself allows for figures from wildly different properties — from Captain America, Halloween’s Michael Myers and Edward Scissorhands to the Sex Pistols’ Johnny Rotten and Charlie Brown — to stand together and look great as a display on a shelf.
And speaking of different properties, as of January 2017 Funko has had over 200 licenses with the idea that consumers are going to love something.
Because the cost of production is so low, Funko can give pop culture fans physical, collectible toys for properties generally neglected by other toy companies — properties like The Golden Girls, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Elvira Mistress of the Dark and even painter Bob Ross.
By reaching out to fans of the obscure, Funko Pop Vinyl Figures have earned an enormous fan-following. Booths at the San Diego and New York Comic Cons are actually manned by volunteers who spend the night in line, entering a lottery to be chosen to work the booth in exchange for access to limited-edition figures. That’s frankly unheard of for any toy company, even Lego.
So the question at hand is no longer “Do you have any Funko Pop Vinyl figures?”
It’s now “How many, and which ones?”