A History of Funko
If you are like many people who go out shopping in person (though maybe less often now due to the pandemic) you have likely seen something for sale called Funko. For it I thought they have been mostly a recent thing, but when I looked up the history of the company behind them I was in for a bit of a surprise.
The company that many now know and love owes its start to toy collector Mike Becker. Mike founded the company at his home in Washington after failing to find an affordable coin bank of the Big Boy Restaurants mascot. Being dissatisfied with the options available, Mike decided to license the rights himself to make his own coin backs of the mascot in Michigan. Unfortunately the coin banks largely failed to sell, but Funko was able to stay in business by attaining the rights to sell bobbleheads for the Austin Powers movie. With this success, the company began to branch out to sell other famous characters, such as the Grinch and cereal mascots like Tony the Tiger and the Cheerios Honey Bee.
It would not be until 2005, when the company was sold to Brian Mariotti, that the company and Funkos really began to take off. The range of product lines was significantly expanded under the new owner, and when Funko began producing and selling its Pop! Vinyl line of figurines in 2011 interest by the public surged. By 2012 the company had sold more than $20,000,000 in merchandise. Though the company itself has suffered some ups and downs since then, the public remains enamored of their products, totally some almost 20,000 different kinds at this point.
So Why Buy Them?
Some arguments might be made regarding the collectable value of these different lines created and sold by Funko. Speaking for myself, I was burned a bit as a child when I put some money into Beanie Babies only to see my promised returns never materialized. That being said, and not knowing enough myself about what toy collectibles do or do not make a good investment I won’t try to convince you to buy they with an aim towards having a more comfortable retirement.
The real appeal as I see it lies in nostalgia and whimsy. Having some of these products is a relatively inexpensive way to celebrate some of our favorite franchises that we enjoyed growing up with. The design of these figurines is mostly whimsical and small enough to put on display for our enjoyment, or the enjoyment of our visitors, pretty much anywhere in the house. To me they serve as a nice, small reminder of some of the better things in life. Unless you enjoy zombies, in which case some of the deader things in life.
I myself only have one. A 10 inch tall “Baby Yoda” that I enjoy looking at on my work desk, but I think I’ll be purchasing the new 18 inch Groot growing from a pot for my home office. This second one has the benefit of looking a little like a plant to the unobservant without actually being one, and lately I have been bugged about adding some green to my desk. I think my wife meant a living plant, but all I’ll say is she should have been a bit more specific.
Current Funko Lines
- Star Wars: The Mandalorian
- Marvel: Avengers Assemble
- Disney Movies
- Harry Potter: Wizarding World
- And Many More
This article contains some affiliate links to Funko products. If you choose to purchase these items via my affiliate links, you will help support my writing and research at no additional cost to you.