You’ve probably heard of Funko before…. really though, who hasn’t? In a relatively short period of time, a small company with a very specific set of products has exploded to become EVERYWHERE with the tenacity of a viral pathogen. They went from a few bobbleheads to clothing, pins, pens, action figures, bi-monthly collectors boxes, and hundreds of property licenses manifested in ways no one imagined or wanted. Funko thrives off of throwing proverbial chum in the water for the feeding frenzy of today’s nerd culture.
Now before you fellow collectors get your tar and feathers ready, just hear me out. This editorial is very much an exercise in playing Devil’s advocate. I feel comfortable taking on this role since I happen to be a major fan of Funko and their products. I’m not overstating that either… look at a screenshot of my (neglected/out of date) PopPriceGuide.com collection tracker totals:
See? I have approximately a metric shit ton of their stuff. Even my 9 year old son has a respectable collection. It’s gotten to the point where my wife’s toleration of the collection has caved to thinly veiled hatred of most anything Funko. Her (probably justified) attitude towards them isn’t uncommon. So where am I going with this? It’s a question that needs to be asked….
Is Pop! Funko still… “fun”?
Funko currently boasts over 200 separate product licenses. In 2016 the company reportedly generated $425 million in revenue off of hungry nerdom and a market for nostalgia. To say that they’re doing well would be an understatement. I’m honestly thrilled to see the success of a small company that found a winning formula and used it to print their own money. However, it’s becoming increasingly easy to view the growing variety of Pop! Figures/merchandise tiptoeing along the line dividing success and hubris.
There was a time, not long ago at all, when my son and I would eagerly walk up to a wall of Pop! Vinyl figures in a retailer like GameStop or Hot Topic. We’d take turns talking about which ones we wanted to add to our collections or which ones we thought were cool. Now, more often than not, the reaction from both of us is, “did they really have to make a Pop! out of that?” There is such a ridiculous abundance of themes being produced at a frightening pace that it’s all become too much. This onslaught of options has made us unfortunately glassy-eyed.
Have we passed the point of no return?
No! Funko has endless potential… they just have to be careful how they use it. Some person in a comic or something once said, “with great power comes great yada yada yada.” The moral of the story is – We don’t need a thousand variants of every character!
Here are some thoughts on what they could do to step off the ledge and refine that cluttered Funko wall:
Use product licences wisely!
- We don’t need full series of The Golden Girls or Sesame Street. I get it that some people are super stoked to have those things but I’m not one of them.
- Instead, release series like “Classic TV Series 1” where those characters are sparingly yet strategically incorporated into the series. Spread it out amongst multiple series to add the collectability and moderation back into it.
PLEASE limit the non-vinyl figure options.
- Putting pins in your collector’s boxes can be fun. Expecting retailers to devote a shelf to them is excessive.
- Plush Mopeez? Nopeez.
- Pens, mugs, hats, whatever. A little bit is fine but I don’t think we need a selection of these items for all 200 licenses.
The Mystery Minis deserve more attention!
- The Science Fiction and Horror Mystery Mini Series are some of my favorite collectibles! It’s great having something at a $5 price point that still has the detail and character of a full sized vinyl figure. The blind box concept adds excitement to collecting once again.
- Pop! Vinyl figures take up a whole lot of space. If you’re a serious collector who insists on having everything in the box (like my partner, The Dull Knight), then display space is an even more precious resource. I can fit three LEGO minifigures in the shelf space it takes for a single Pop! out of the box. The Mystery Minis are much more respectful of this space so I’m more willing to purchase them. I’m sure retailers are equally thankful for this space conservation.
- Mystery Minis could be more suitable for the implementation of character licenses.
Use retailer exclusives more responsibly
- The thrill of the hunt is part of the fun in collecting, although, there is nothing more frustrating than not finding something at a certain store because the staff/distribution sucks.
- Chase variants are broken. They always go to stores that don’t know what to do with them or have some employee that bogarts them. I’m not sure how this can be fixed – any ideas?
- F*#% Walgreens. Seriously. They inexplicably tend to get some of the coolest exclusives and you can never find them because 96.4% of the locations suck. Don’t believe me? When was the last time you saw a figure there that wasn’t from Frozen or the same Stormtrooper?
Slow down the release schedule
- Stores need to sell product before more can come out. The constant flow of new releases for movies or to spoonfeed us millennials our dose of nostalgia has crossed from the realm of variety into clutter.
Be careful with your subscription boxes
- I only actively get the Smuggler’s Bounty box (because Star Wars… duh) but have been bothered by the prevalence of spoilers Funko advertises beforehand. For example, I knew almost everything coming in the recent Star Wars Rebels box weeks before it even arrived. Part of the fun of a subscription box is getting surprised! It’s possible to tease or allude to the contents without showing the best parts of a box prior to it even shipping.
- Hopefully they are done with the excess box themes. There are what, five now? I got super turned off to Loot Crate because they became more interested in putting out a hundred different themes than they were making sure each one was worth buying. Thus far, Funko has had a much better handle on this. Hopefully it continues that way!
So Funko, if you’re reading this, just know that I love you guys. You have a great product and I really do enjoy what you do. But I think you need to pump the breaks and focus on what you all do well rather than trying to do everything at once.
What do you think? Are you signing up for this intervention or are you prepping the tar and feathers? Sound off in the comments, vote in the fancy poll below, and email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Belligerent Barnes