If you've been to a geeky convention, a comic book shop, or even just a big box store in the past ten years, you've likely seen a new type of merchandise that's taking over fandoms: Funko Pop figures.
As of this writing, there are thousands of Funko Pop figures out there, and the sheer number of them can be somewhat overwhelming if you're just getting into the collectible hobby now.
No matter how niche your fandom is, chances are there's at least one Funko Pop out there—but likely many more—for you.
So, what exactly is a Funko Pop figure? Where did these collectibles come from? And why are they so popular? Here's everything you need to know about Funko Pops and why they're here to stay.
What Are Funko Pops? Explained
The Funko company was originally founded back in 1998. Their initial goal was simple: to make affordable nostalgia-themed toys, which included vinyl figurines and bobblehead toys of iconic characters.
Their very first licensed figure was the famous mascot for Big Boy restaurants. From there, the company grew and struck up all kinds of other licensing agreements across hundreds of intellectual properties.
Today, there are entire stalls at nearly every convention that are dedicated to selling signature Funko Pop figurines, which all share the same iconic oversized head and large black eyes on a slim frame. With just a glimpse, you can always identify a Funko Pop.
And, funny enough, that uniformity of design is actually one of the biggest criticisms against Funko Pop figurines. Whether it's Goku, Darth Vader, or Princess Elsa, they all tend to look the same.
Some people like the fact that their Funkos all look like Funkos, but many collectors are the type who want something unique to every character they purchase. So, the very thing that makes them instantly identifiable is also what makes them less appealing to many fans.
The Perfect Entry-Level Figurine
Despite the valid criticisms laid against Funko Pop designs, it's impossible to deny the popularity of Funko Pops as a whole.
There are literally thousands of them from different vendors, and you can pretty much guarantee that every new Marvel movie or TV show will come with at least one or two new Funko Pop figures.
But that doesn't explain why they're so popular and how they've secured such influence on pop culture collectibles. After all, Beanie Babies were also extremely popular collectibles, but even they faded away.
Well, the thing about Funko Pops is that the company has positioned themselves as the ultimate producer of entry-level figurines.
The similar shape and style between all their figures makes them quick and easy to produce, which keeps costs low and allows them to be sold for cheaper than just about any other figurine on the market.
Unless you're just purchasing cheap action figure toys, even the most affordable figurines cost several times the price of a Funko Pop for the same character.
Take Captain America, for example. A scale model of Steve Rogers from Avengers: Endgame can cost upwards of $75 on Amazon, with some figurines costing several hundred dollars. On the other hand, a Funko Pop of Captain America from the same movie costs less than $15.
You can't argue with the economics: Funko Pops are simply the best figurines for beginner collectors.
There's a downside to their low cost, of course. The market is flooded, so Funko Pop figures don't have great resale value (unless you have an extremely rare one). You shouldn't treat these as investments, and you'll be lucky to recoup your costs if you ever clear out your collection.
To be clear: there are many expensive Funko Pop figurines, but the basic figures—the ones instantly recognizable as a Funko—will almost always be one of the most affordable options on the market.
So Much Variety in Funko Pops
We've already touched on the other reason why Funko Pops are so popular worldwide: nearly any character you can think of has gotten the Funko treatment, and any new ones coming out will likely get it as well.
Big fan of Edgar Allen Poe? He's got a Funko Pop for you to buy. Dying to get Critical Role figurines? The entire crew of Vox Machina has had their own Funkos produced. There are even Funkos for Killer Klowns From Outer Space if terrible 1980s cult horror films are up your alley.
Whatever your fandom, there's probably a Funko Pop you can add to your collection—and that's possible because Funko Pops are so cheap to make, so Funko can take chances with obscure properties.
Hey Funko Pop fans!
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For all the legitimate criticisms, Funko Pops may have a bit of a bad rap amongst fans, but we don't think that's a bad thing.
It's important that people have the opportunity to celebrate the characters they love, even if they don't have tons of disposable income to spare. The existence of Funko Pops is a net positive for fandoms.
The fact that they cover so many niche fandoms gives everyone the chance to see their favorite characters hanging out on their shelf.