Most Popular Pop Vinyl Figures – The Power of Understanding is making a gift today to help everyone get investigative journalism for free. x
When Jack, 37, brought a woman back to his home after a date recently, she was surprised by his spare room. In the rec room of Jack’s California home, a full 1,080 plastic figurines are stacked neatly in boxes from floor to ceiling. Over the past four years, the grape grower (identified here by a pseudonym) has spent more than $9,000 on the toy.
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Each of Jack’s toys has large, hollow black eyes, a square head, and a disproportionately small body. They are Pop Vinyl figures made by the 20-year-old company Funko Inc., based in Washington State, and launched in 2011. Known simply by fans as “Funko Pops,” each toy is based on a pop culture character, and according to the official Funko app, there are now 8,366 different figures. In addition to the expected superheroes, you can also buy Funko Pops from Harry and Meghan Markle, Pillsbury Doughboy, Tupac Shakur, Abraham Lincoln and Cece
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, and son of Vans footwear founder Steve Van Doren. Funko’s official motto says that everyone is a fan of something.
“We’re proud that we can Popify everything,” said Sean Wilkinson, Funko’s creative director, who has been with the company since its inception. “We’re not going to do anything at this point.”
Funko Pops are now available from 25,000 retail brands worldwide, from Walmart to Amazon to Hot Topic and even Foot Locker. In 2018, the company’s net sales rose 33% to $686.1 million, accounting for 82% of all sales. Chief Executive Brian Mariotti called his company “recession proof” after the company released its second-quarter earnings report in early August, announcing that sales rose 38% compared with the same period last year.
Chances are you’ve come across a Funko Pop by now — whether it’s on a co-worker’s desk, wrapped under the Christmas tree, or waiting at your date’s house, staring blankly. Why are these characters so popular, and how did the company come to dominate the pop culture market?
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“When I walk into a room full of pop music, I like to look around and just look nostalgically,” Jack said of his collection. “I love that you can have characters from an old Mexican TV show, you can have a care bear, you can have John Wick and Elvira, and they all look good together. They’re kind of a uniform – You can already have these different genres brought together in one neat collection.
Collectors like Jack make up 36 percent of Funko’s customers, while 31 percent are “occasional buyers.” Funko Pops appealed to both brands because of the “cute science” behind the humanoid designs, Wilkinson said.
“Literally, the eyes are a certain height, a certain distance apart, and the head is two-thirds the size of the body, which is a fixed ratio,” he explained. “It’s like little animals with big eyes, they’re a little bit of a distance away. I think we’re wired to be drawn to these things. There’s a lot of ‘reluctant’ pop because of these strategic design decisions,” Wilkinson said. Collectors.” A lot of people don’t want to like this…they’ll buy one, they’ll buy two, and all of a sudden they’re hooked. “
Still, there’s no denying that many people find Funko Pops ugly or disturbing — a YouTube video titled “I HATE FUNKO POP VINYLS” has racked up over a million views in the past two months frequency. “Dolly looks like the carnal manifestation of human evil,” read the video’s top comment, with more than 1,500 likes. (Anyway, Wilkinson admits that designing Fish Funkos was difficult—”Anything with eyes on the sides of the head is always a bit of a challenge.”)
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Funko Pops are generally considered cute, but one Internet commentator called the figure of Dory in Finding Nemo a “physical manifestation of human evil.” Fengzi
Surprisingly, avid collector Jack is also one of those who think Pops “look creepy”, going so far as to describe some designs as “very distasteful”, citing the original Goofy Pop as an example, Its eyelids droop, covering the pupilless eyes. “Some are really ugly and creepy, so I wouldn’t call them cute,” he said, “I just think they’re funny.” Jack said the main appeal of the toy is that you can buy one that wouldn’t normally be in collectible form characters that appear. “Like Travis Bickle’s
.If you see something like this, something you absolutely love, and it’s only $10, why not pick it up? “
Disney and Disney account for almost half of Funko Pop’s sales, but the company seems to keep picking up new and unexpected licenses, from drag queens to food mascots to NASCAR drivers.
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“Our brand identity is able to say that we have something for everyone,” said Dolly Ahluwalia, Funko’s vice president of licensing and business development. Ahluwalia said the company has been scouring fan forums and listening to Funko collectors (the company calls them ” Fanatics”) about what they want to see next to find a new license. Older franchises are popular, she said.
“We’re in a world of nostalgia right now — there’s a lot of interest in brands and shows from the 80s and 90s,” she said. Still, finding a license for an unknown property can be challenging. “Sometimes those licenses aren’t even open anymore, the studios drop the rights, or we can’t find talent,” she explained. However, the hunt usually pays off. Ahluwalia said the Pokémon license “took a long time to buy” but “ended up being huge” for the company. “Getting Pokémon to design their characters like Pop has been a long process, but we’re very excited about this line,” she said, adding that despite limited distribution, Pokémon is now Pop’s 11th most popular property .
In recent years, though, Ahluwalia and her team’s job has gotten a lot easier—where they once needed to educate potential partners about Funko Pops, now brands are coming to them wanting to be Popified. “We used to have to really educate our partners on who we are and how we are different from other traditional toy companies or collectibles companies,” Ahluwalia said. “But now most people in the industry are very familiar with our product and styling. So we have our own swimming pool.”
How on earth did the brand achieve such fame? Ahluwalia said Funko’s approach is similar to that of the fast fashion world — products are typically licensed, designed and released within a few months, with some products hitting the market in as little as 70 days. when
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For its final season, which aired earlier this year, the company worked directly with HBO after each episode to pre-order new Pop Funko concepts. “We can react and get products moving much faster than we can actually put physical plastic on the shelf,” Ahluwalia explained.
The company said in a May 2019 investor presentation that the Pop can be designed and submitted to a licensor within 24 hours, prototyped in 45 days, and “sourced from factories in Asia while maintaining quality control” in as little as 15 days. . Funko also prides itself on its low production costs—between $5,000 and $7,500 to develop each new doll.
View this post on Instagram A post shared by Funko (@originalfunko) on Aug 6, 2019 at 10:30am PDT
Perhaps Funko’s biggest trick is releasing multiple versions of the same character, either in different outfits or poses, or painted in glitter or chrome. On the Funko website, there are currently 29 different images of TV host Conan O’Brien—you can have the comedian dressed up as Armenian folk dancer Jon Snow or the clown Pennywise, or even just painted orange.
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“It’s really questionable — we might have made 50 Iron Man, but that’s because Iron Man was so hot,” says creative director Wilkinson. For Funko, releasing new versions of its already heavily Popified characters can be a challenge. “The next Avengers is coming, and we have to come up with three more Iron Men,” Wilkinson said, explaining that the company will be poring over the film’s sets to design new poses, costumes and sets for the characters.
“People want more Batman; it blows my mind how many versions we’ve done and they’re still selling well. So, you know, the sales guy came to us and said, ‘Sean, we can still do The other Batmen? Are we? Forgot someone? Is there something we haven’t thought of?’”
Jack says he doesn’t feel the need to collect everything Funko Pop has ever produced, instead focusing on the franchises he loves. Sometimes he even passes Pops based on shows he likes – he doesn’t want to collect
Numbers because they are “ordinary”.
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