Those Quirky Little Funko Pops: Why Are They so Collectible?
You may have seen these small-bodied, big-headed, quirky nostalgia-based figures around for awhile; they are not only on every kid’s Christmas list, but are also selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars in some cases.
Funko first opened its doors in 1998 and started off with a nostalgia-themed bobblehead line called Wacky Wobblers. The Big Boy bobblehead, famed mascot of the Big Boy restaurant group, was the first one to ever come off the production line. After a change in ownership in 2005, it was the new CEO who brought in more licensing agreements, and they started producing Fantastik Plastik, which were plastic figures including characters from Mad Monster Party, Duck Dodgers and Wacky Races, to name a few. The company eventually moved into another product series called Funko’s Funkovision that had a line of Looney Tunes and Hanna-Barbera, although very short-lived.
It was in 2010 when Funko decided to come out with Pops!, which first debuted as a preview line of DC Comics characters at San Diego Comic-Con, then was fully revealed in 2011 at the New York Toy Fair. No one could have predicted just how big these figurines would become. In 2021, Funko reported more than $1 billion in net sales, which was a 58% increase from 2020. The secondary market of Funko Pops, according to Funko CEO Andrew Perlmutter, is worth between $700 million to $1 billion.
Although some Pops! can cost as low as $10-$15, there are also certain unique Pops! that can run you thousands of dollars based on rarity and popularity. One reason why these small toys can sell for as much as a house is due to their unique design. The giant oversized head, paired with the undersized body, creates an instantly recognizable aesthetic that separates them from other collectibles. A second reason why some of these Pops! have sold for so much is due to their rarity. Funko has released a very finite number of certain Pops!, coming out with as little as 1,000, 48 or even 10 unique designs.
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Recently an extremely limited Willy Wonka and Oompa Loompa Pop sold for $210,000 at auction, which is, for the time being, the most expensive sale of a Pop. Only 10 of these Golden Wonka two-packs are believed to ever have been created, with six given to Funko employees, while four were a part of the company’s San Diego Comic-Con 2016 Funko Fundays event. Fans who attended the event received chocolate bars, with four of the chocolate bars containing a golden ticket that was able to be turned in for one of the four Golden Wonka two-packs. With the market for Pops! only getting bigger, collectors will be looking for a golden ticket of their own in order to score a big payday. A few other rare ones are Alex from A Clockwork Orange, a metallic silver Mickey Mouse and a variety of Freddy Funko.
While some of these may be over the top and unobtainable to the average collector, there are still some that may be a little bit more price friendly. We recently spoke with a collector at the Flashback Horror Convention in Chicago, and in his opinion, one of the more sought-after pieces is of Ghostface from the horror movie Scream, which can cost upwards of $500. Of course, others that can be quite popular are any first releases of the Universal Monsters, or the holographic Star Wars series. Another popular line was the General Mills monster cereals, consisting of Franken Berry, Boo Berry and Count Chocula.
As always, you need to know your stuff, as many can be fakes. But if you are an avid collector of these little guys you probably already know that. Whether or not you collect for a potential money investment or just love the quirkiness, who knows what the future holds as it was recently announced that the Funko Inc. will be cutting staff and reducing their product line due to financial losses.
Tell us, are you a collector and what is your most sought after one?