By Micah Henson
What makes Funko Pops so popular? They’re just plastic, right? While that may be true, they have reached a high level of “pop”ularity.
I would like to preface this blogpost by saying, I have an addiction. I am in no way dissing the Funko pop community, because well... I own 12 out of the 41 possible Stitch figures that Funko produces, and I have no plans to stop buying. It’s probably a problem, but who cares?!
First off, we need to talk about how they came into the spotlight; how they became an icon in the collector world. In 1998, a toy collector named Mike Becker had the idea of a coin bank of the mascot of the restaurant, Big Boy. After creating the Big Boy coin banks, Becker and his wife believe they could go a little further. Their idea was originally conceived as a small project, to create nostalgia in the form of toys and coin banks, all while being low tech. This idea seemed to fail, as they soon had to file for bankruptcy protection, but remained in business after receiving the licensing rights to make bobbleheads for Austin Powers, which ended up selling 80,000 units. From this success, Funko started making characters like Tony the Tiger, the Grinch, and the Cheerios honeybee. By 2005, the Beckers were ready to get out of the business, selling Funko to its current CEO, Brian Mariotti. Mariotti expanded the licensed product line by a great margin. In 2011, the company started selling their Pop! Vinyl figurines, which we all think about when talking about pop now. By 2012, 20 million dollars of merchandise was sold.
So why do we all have this agreement that these are great toys? Nostalgia and Obsession. That’s it. You, as the consumer, like a certain character. Once you find out that Funko has your character, impulse kicks in. I cannot explain why that happens; I am no rocket therapist. I do not understand why impulse kicks in, but for me at least, it does.
However, what happens when Funko doesn’t have your character? Oh no Right?!... No! One, if you believe that there’s a character that needs to be there, the community is HUGE, there is at least 10 other people that believe the same character should be the next Pop figure (as long as your idea is within reason). As well as that, guess what? There are forums that Funko has formed so you can suggest whatever character you want! The marketing strategy is IMMACULATE!
Speaking of marketing strategy, in my mind, it all just comes to them. With their absolutely huge community, if their fans; their consumers, say that they want the next character to be. From there, Funko has to reach out to the licensed company, to gain the rights to create the character. This is where I believe it kind of just comes to them, because what company says no? It’s a no brainer! You obviously say yes!
Funko is almost up to the 20,000 total characters mark. That’s crazy! If you gave me a week to name 500 characters, I wouldn’t be able to do that, and they have 40 times that! Now, they don’t have 20,000 absolutely different characters, they have variations. Which is why they become so much more profitable! As the consumer, you just don’t stop. You find a stitch figure, and oh look! There he is with a ukulele! PURCHASED!
So, they are so “Pop”ular because marketing, nostalgia, and obsession/addiction? Absolutely! I l know it is for me! I may have been totally wrong on my assumptions in this blog. However, through my eyes, that is how these toys have become so “Pop”ular.