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Funko Pop vinyl figures are some of the most popular toys available in the marketplace. You can’t go into a toy store, comic shop, or even a Walgreens without finding them. They’ve become a cultural sensation, stretching across multiple genres and franchises including, Star Wars, Batman, Game of Thrones, Star Trek, Harry Potter, you name it.
Whether you’re into video games, movies, comic books, popular TV shows, or even obscure anime, there’s a Funko for you. With more than 3,000 unique figures, Pops make up of 75 percent of the company’s revenue, so you can bet Funko will be making the toys for a long time to come. With that, let’s take a look at 7 facts that you didn’t know about the insanely popular Funko Pops line.
7 fun facts about Funko Pop
Yes, that Big Boy. Funko was originally created by T-shirt designer Mike Becker, who got started back in 1998. The idea sprang from the desire to create a cool vintage coin bank out of his favorite pop culture character: the Big Boy mascot of the famous restaurant chain. Replicas were too expensive on eBay, so he decided to create his own.
After creating a cool figurine of the Big Boy, Becker was hooked. He started creating more characters from his house in Snohomish, Washington, at first focusing on banks and puppets, and later adding in bobbleheads as well. It all started with the Big Boy, though. With that, a cultural phenomenon was born.
2) General Mills cereal characters were the first Funkos
When Becker started branching out from banks and puppets to vinyl figures, some of the first centered around General Mills cereal characters: Captain Crunch, Count Chocula, Franken Berry, and more. These first figures were bobbleheads created for Becker’s line of Wacky Wobblers. It wasn’t until 2010 that the first Pops hit the scene at San Diego Comic-Con.
3) Funko almost ended before it began
When Becker was just starting, he had a difficult time dealing with everything from distributors failing to pay him to finding an audience for the toys. Burned out at one point, he even contemplated giving up all together. It wasn’t until entrepreneur and eventual Funko CEO Brian Mariotti discovered Becker’s toys and purchased the company in 2005 that things really began to take off. Even then, it was a slow process. It took years for the brand to reach the level of mainstream popularity that Funko enjoys today.
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Like anything collectable, certain hard-to-find figures sell for steep prices. Some of the rarest Funko Pops sell for well over $1,000. They include Alex from A Clockwork Orange, Headless Ned Stark from Game of Thrones, and a metallic Harley Quinn from Batman.
If you own any of those, you might want to hold onto them—unless you’re ready to cash in. While $1,000 might not seem like a lot considering the tip-top prices paid for some geeky collectables, for a toy that typically costs $9.99 it’s definitely a huge return for your money.
5) Funko Pops almost had a different name
When Mariotti debuted the prototype line that would become Pops at San Diego Comic-Con in 2010, they were branded as Funko Force 2.0. The name didn’t catch on, and Funko’s existing fanbase wasn’t sold on the figures, which included Batman and Green Lantern. But Mariotti noticed the new figures did attract a different crowd—one filled with female fans and those unfamiliar with the Funko name. Soon afterwards, the company settled on Funko Pops as the brand name of the figurines.
6) Funko has never released Super Mario figures
That’s right. You would think a company that has made vinyl figures for almost every fandom and franchise out there would’ve tackled Super Mario Bros. but alas, it has not. It’s one of the only franchises the company hasn’t created yet, (likely due to Nintendo’s notoriously tight hold on its intellectual property). Be wary, though, there are fan-created versions. Many sculptors and fan artists have created custom vinyl pop figures for the series, some of which are available on rare collector sites and eBay. Some are pretty convincing, so if you just can’t go without a Super Mario Pop, at least there are options.
7) A petition wants YouTubers as Funko Pops
More than 16,000 people signed a petition asking Funko to start a new line of Pop figurines based on popular YouTube stars. The petition has even commissioned artwork to give an idea of what the vinyl figures would look like.
So far, the petition has lined up an impressive list of YouTube creators such as TomSka, Jacksepticeye, Markiplier, Danisnotonfire, AmazingPhil, and Game Grumps. Funko CEO Brian Mariotti has yet to issue any kind of statement on a potential YouTube Funko Pop line, however.
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Dan Marcus is a geek culture reporter based in Los Angeles. His work has appeared in First Showing and Trek Movie.