Recent boom for the Funko’s huge-headed figurines is shockingly huge. For a Pop collector who is aware of them for more than three years, mind me. My friend asked me a couple of days ago how to start collecting and what all that means. I wanted to write a post about it a long while ago but I kept postponing it. I believe it is getting out of hand and that post is in order as soon as possible.
Funko at this moment is an enormous company with all of their collectable ideas, but they started small. It was 20 years ago when the first Big Boy (icon of a restaurant in the USA) bobblehead figurine popped on the market. They wanted to make toys and memorabilia based on the nostalgia. They grew slowly, their toys were more and more famous and they were able to collect licenses to make more. In 2005 the founders sold the company to Brian Mariotti and it’s in his capable hands ever since.
When the world got their first Funko Pop and it wasn’t very popular back then. No wonder, really, the first Pops were terrible. It wasn’t the detail and quality it is now. Sure, they still have their imperfections but you must admit, they became way cooler. The first “Pop” on market was DC line collecting two Batmans, Batgirl and Green Lantern. But it was in 2010 and they were still called Funko Force. Shortly after that close to New York Toy Fair 2011 new line called Funko Pop was announced.
If you want to know more about the history of the company I recommend ‘Making Fun‘ document released on Netflix this year.
Shortly, it is the name of the fanbase. It was introduced back in 2003 also as a name of the discussion site for collectors. Now the name is used from time to time by the fans because it is unknown almost completely to the outside world.
I believe this one is quite obvious but maybe you don’t know about him. It is the face of the company, created back when they were starting. Now he has become some sort of a dream for advanced collectors. His figurines, not only Pops, are very valuable and often highly limited.
Another character who has a somewhat similar situation is Conan. No, he is not a face of the company. He’s a real person, Conan O’Brien. He’s a presenter, comic and screenwriter, mostly known for his show Late Night with Conan. I’m not a follower of his show but there’s much popculture going on, including a lot of stars visiting.
It’s basically a celebration of popculture and collectors. Funko is making such event each year, recently at SDCC. There are a lot of limited quantity figures given to the Funatics and a lot of news are shared. And so on. One day I’m going there and you won’t stop me.
OK. After the introduction (I hope more or less worthy), let’s talk about the Pops themselves.
How to start
So. You want to buy a Pop You’ve found what you want but you don’t know what it is, you don’t want to dive into some strange waters and be afraid of asking questions. First of all: calm down. It’s just a piece of plastic formed nicely. It can be cute, badass or anything but there’s nothing more to it. Sure, there CAN be, but don’t get scared that you’ll do something wrong with it.
There might be a couple of rules that advanced collectors follow, but as long as you’re not into reselling these, you have nothing to worry about. Do whatever you want and don’t listen to people that consider it wrong. It is yours. Period.
But what if you WANT to be like them? Well, it gets a little bit more complicated.
I think one of the most annoying things more advanced collectors are facing is an avalanche of questions such as:
- Is there a Pop of […]?
- Do you think they’ll make the Pop from […]?
- When will we see the […] Pops?
And so on.
Through the years Funko got a lot of licenses and they keep asking for more. The size of not covered subjects in culture gets smaller and smaller each year. If you haven’t found your beloved show or film yet, maybe you missed them? It’s good to check Funko licenses page, their Pop catalogue or go further to Stashpedia or Poppriceguide which are created by fans (Stashpedia was recently bought by Funko).
If they’re not there yet and Google didn’t tell you anything about it, it’s a very high chance they’re not here yet. You can always write to Funko and tell them that!
The most figures on the market are called “commons”. Meaning nothing else but that they aren’t limited and they can be bought from any retailer that orders them. Sometimes they can be highly desired and sold out fast, especially when the certain show or film is very popular, but for time being, Funko produces them for whatever is required.
But some Pops don’t get the same treatment. They get a sticker on them. This is where all the confusion begins. What do they mean? Are they important? The answer to the first question is quite long. They mean plenty of stuff depending on the sticker. So let’s go through them.
Some Pops are not made just with vinyl. They get to be covered in fur (Flocked) or glitter (Diamond). This is one way to earn a sticker. The other is to glow in the dark – they get a sticker, too.
Funko Pop Exclusive is usually applied to a certain popular shop or to an event. It’s hard to list them all since they keep appearing and disappearing. However, it is mostly valid in the USA. In Europe, the sticker can be replaced by the shop that is an official Funko seller. Recently most of them go to EMP or GameStop.
Events sometimes have two or more types of stickers. They are mostly divided between the event itself and the other points of sale (so-called ‘Shared Sticker’). I enjoy this practice because even without being in the USA for a certain Comic-Con, I can still get the Pop I desire. With the different sticker, but I don’t mind. Unfortunately, not all the event-exclusive Pops have the same treatment. Some of them are exclusive to the event and there’s no way to find them anywhere else.
Just to mention, some Pops also have “first to market” sticker. Which means that the figure will be available later as a common.
Older Pops from the European retailers have Underground Toys sticker which basically means the same – it was sold by the company. Then, there’s also a silver EXCLUSIVE sticker which was used for European distribution to everything not-common.
Some exclusives don’t even have a sticker. Why? Well, simply because of the distribution. Australian distribution differs to the European and US one and most of the exclusives there don’t have them. Is the Pop different, you may wonder. No. The only thing that is missing is the sticker. It can be valuable to collectors but there’s no point in worrying.
Ghus Pop sticker comparison: left – shared sticker, right – event sticker
These are tricky. And quite valuable as well. The Chase sticker can appear on all types of Pops. If they appear on exclusives, it is usually on the shop-based ones.
The box the Pops are packed contains six figures each. If the Pop has the chase version, one of them is different than the others. It’s the same character but with something special. It can be coloured differently or flocked/glow in the dark. Some of them have different parts, like a helmet instead of the head and so on. It’s worth more and it’s more collectable. Normally they should be sold randomly, every 6th pop, but smaller retailers and physical shops often sell them separately at a higher price. I like the certainty of having a chase from a shop, but I don’t agree they should sell them 4 times more expensive. It’s a little too much.
What do stickers mean?
Plenty. The amount of produced figurines, the limited quantity of those and the market value they reach later. The more limited Pop the more valuable it can become. And what’s more important, the sticker where it was bought can be quite important in this case. “Shared event” stickers from the event are more common than the Event ones that’s why they can be less in value.
Do you need to care? Not really. I don’t. I only want the figurine. I do keep them in boxes and care about their value but I don’t want my collection to be about them. I just want to have fun!
All the types
Now let’s get to another variation of Pops. You may notice that not all of them look the same. After a while of selling only one sized character Pops, Funko decided to go wider with them and gave us more. They decided to make 6″ Pops for characters who are bigger in the “source” (like Hagrid in the Harry Potter series). It was and still is a nice idea and such Pops are still produced. Then Pop Rides entered the stage. So there were all the famous vehicles such as Breaking Bad van or Ghost Rider motorcycle.
Nowadays, they go even further and started creating Movie Moments with some remarkable scenes and horizontal Pops to catch the best out of more “flat” characters. And there’s also one more. 10″. They are H U G E and really I don’t enjoy the way it goes. I do have my enormous Porg and she is cute (yes, it’s my mama porg). But then they started to produce so many in such a short time. I don’t think we need all of them. Especially since they’re not very much changed from the basic design. Sure they have a little more detail but I hope it eventually flops. But it’s my opinion nonetheless.
Some big enterprises such as Disney or DC are in the partnership with Funko and sale subscription boxes. The box has Funko products that cannot be bought any other way. The most valuable is, of course, the Pop but there’re other nice things, too. Sadly, most of them are available only in the USA.
Vaulted Pops are ones that are not in production anymore. The whole list can be found here, for instance. Or on the actual Funko site but they don’t keep track of them very consistently. There’s also ‘vault edition’ Pops, mostly for Star Wars franchise, which means that the production of certain figure went back on. They often have differences such as box colour or different details.
Boxes are important?!
Short answer: yes. Always. You never know what will you want to do with the Pop in the future and without the box its value runs down drastically. Even while displaying the figurine out of the box (AKA ‘OOB’), it’s good to keep the box around. Just in case.
Collectors keep their most valuable pieces in box protector. It is quite important to keep the box in the perfect condition. This is just how the collecting goes.
If you’re still confused – yes, Funko Pops do have value. More than you might have thought, actually. Some most expensive Pops can get up to 5000$. How? Some of the classic factors: the desire, the limitation in quantity etc. In my opinion, it is something you have to get used to. The value of the Pop is how much people are willing to give. And some people are willing to pay a lot for their grails (the most desirable, usually very rare Pop).
Checking the value is most recommended via Ebay. No application is actually good enough to do so.
The prototypes of the Pop. Usually without any paint. They are test versions of the figure and are considered very valuable.
A lot of people have a desire not to rely on Funko and make their own Pops. There’s a huge society that searches for certain parts from Pops to do something with them. Firstly, there were simply white sculptures in a box by Funko but people got way more creative and now a lot of people searches for a ‘bold head’ or something. Funko is quite fond of them and I’ve seen some official contests for customs.
There’s a lot of fake Funko Pops on the market. Chinese copies are very similar in making, they can come in similar boxes and so on. How to spot the fake? A lot of them miss something and comparing to the same figure but original, you can see the difference. For example painting or some mistakes in the naming or numbers. Are they actually bad things? No, not really. Sometimes they seem actually better than the real deal, but reselling them will be definitely not worth a try. But then if you want your figure only for yourself and you don’t care about giving the money to the company that owns the idea, I’m not here to lecture you.
Other Funko products
Funko is not only responsible for Pops. They do way more than that. Sure Pops are now their main line of business so they try to put them anywhere they can. So then we have cups, keychains or Christmas tree lights. But then there’re a lot of other lines you can pick from. In short, there’re Dorbz (cute small smiley figurines), Rock Candy (doll-like figures, lovely designs!), Mystery Minis (plenty of designs in each, randomly chosen), PintSize Heroes (randomly chosen, small and cute) and Wobblers which are the oldest Funko product. I’m pretty sure there are more but these are most popular.
Stashpedia (also a mobile app)
Recommended Facebook groups
My favourite Funko shops
Popcultcha – AUSTRALIA
Flipper – a person who buys Funkos cheap/retail and then sells them for higher price immediately
Code on the bottom – the factory where it was manufactured and date of production
Funko Shop Exclusive – every day Funko sells an exclusive on their webstore. All of them are highly limited and very valuable later. Shipping only in the USA.
If you enjoyed this article, please let me know and maybe hint me if there’s something more you’d like me to cover.
Fox in Funkoland
From a person who despised the huge collections, I kind of became one myself. I started collecting back in 2015 and then I was buying only ones I liked and looked nice. I was keeping it small, only one Pop to mark my love for the story or character. It seems very smart of me thinking back. In December 2016 I had around 10 figures. Now I have more than 100 and I am trying not to extend it too much. I am a Deadpool collector. I also have full sets of Porgs, 10th Doctor and Twin Peaks. Apart from these, my Pops are very random, depending on what I enjoy.
My most desired Pops which hasn’t been done yet are David Lynch and Fight Club. My grail… Hard to say. Indiana Jones, James Gunn and Bryan Fuller.