Funko is a company best known for producing those adorable little vinyl figurines known as Funko Pops. They’re toys made in the likenesses of characters from pop culture, and since their creation, Funko has covered pretty much everything from comic villains and heroes to Harry Potter characters, with their main focus being fantasy characters. Even if you hadn’t heard of Funko Pops, you’d probably look at one of them and be like, “oh, those! Yeah, I’ve seen those before, the cute little figures.”
They’re everywhere, and there’s a lot more to their story than you might have expected!
10. The Funko Was Inspired By Big Boy
Did you know that it wasn’t an iconic comic character that inspired the Funko Pops? You might expect that it was a famous villain like the Joker, or iconic fantasy character like Daenerys Targaryen—but no. The character that inspired the creation of Funko Pops was actually Big Boy, the mascot for an American restaurant chain.
Big Boy was creator Mike Becker’s favourite pop culture character, and he played around with a few ideas of what to make in tribute to this character. He focused on banks, puppets, and bobbleheads, but eventually decided that he wanted to settle on the Funko Pops—and their creation is all thanks to Big Boy.
9. It Very Nearly Never Happened
Becker may have had the idea in 1998, but it wasn’t until Brian Mariotti purchased his company in 2005 that Funko gained any level of success—it was a slow road, and a clear message never to give up on your dreams! Becker went through a hard time when he was trying to launch everything and gain popularity and support for his ideas. At one point, he even had distributors failing to pay him and considered giving up the whole idea entirely. It’s easy to see why that was encouraging, but I’m glad he stuck it out—otherwise, I wouldn’t have that cute little Jaime Lannister on my shelf staring at me right now.
8. Over 16,000 People Signed A Petition For YouTube Pops
In recent years, YouTubers have gained quite the following, particularly with young audiences. YouTubers are something very different from mainstream celebrities; they put content and sometimes even just their personal lives on the video website and gain audiences and a fanbase from doing so.
These audiences made a huge petition to have YouTubers made into Funko Pops, and it gained a lot of signatures. So far, Funko hasn't made any Pops of any YouTubers, but you never know what could happen in the future… this petition suggests there’s a market for it, and not a small one.
7. They Vetoed Offers From Some Big People, Including Athletes And Disney
Funko has definitely managed to keep their integrity and takes offers seriously. Athletes really wanted some bobbleheads to give out at games, but Funko turned them down—saying they preferred to stick to fictional characters and food mascots.
And that’s not all. At one point in the past, they even turned down offers from Disney. They have huge fictional characters that would surely have made Funko a killing, but the company thought that Disney were far too strict on the designs they wanted and, at that point, wouldn’t make any pops for them. You certainly can’t say Funko has sold out…
6. That Cute Expression Is Very Deliberate...
The thing that makes Funko Pops so unique is their expression. Many dolls, toys, and figurines have been made of many fictional characters and yet, Pops are the ones that seem to be famous, that everyone gravitates towards them for that “awww” factor. The truth is, it’s completely deliberate. They even moved the nose closer to the eyes because they thought that it made the expression more endearing and would entice people into finding the Pops adorable.
Good marketing Funko, because it’s definitely worked. They manage to make any fictional character look cute—they even have a Lord Voldemort one now!
5. The Initial Response Wasn't Great...
The first time the idea was announced was at San Diego Comic-Con in 2010 and to be honest, it didn’t get a particularly warm reception.
Funko Pops definitely took some time to grow on people. It’s understanding that people weren’t immediately thrilled and excited about them—after all, vinyl figures were nothing new and didn’t sound like anything revolutionary. But these figurines have taken on a character all their own now and pop culture is hard to imagine without them around.
Still, when they were announced at that one San Diego Comic-Con, the reception was definitely lukewarm at best. Thank heavens they weren’t put off of the idea entirely.
4. Their HQ Is A Famous Tourist Destination In The USA
Yes—you can visit the headquarters in Washington! They have tours, they have events, they have everything—and it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area. There are different areas dedicated to different sections of pop culture (a Marvel area, a Harry Potter area, and so on). There are even giant Funko Pops for you to take pictures with, which I’m pretty sure you can’t get anywhere else.
Even people who don’t collect the Funko Pops seem to enjoy spending an afternoon here so if you ever get the chance, check it out. It’s become famous for a reason.
3. There Are Rumours That Tom Cruise Interfered With A Creation
Funko was planning on making a Tom Cruise Pop from The Mummy, when it was strangely canceled with no reason given. Hmmmm.
It was said to be “licensing issues” that led to the loss, but as the other two characters from the movie were still released, it’s actually speculated that the reason the Pop never hit the shelves was because Cruise himself was against it. He’s been known to be kind of funny when it comes to merchandise using his image so although Funko was classy enough not to give everything away, you can be pretty sure that this was the real reason.
2. There Are Funko Pops That Sell For Upwards Of $1,000
Even in the short time they’ve been around, the value of some collectible Funko Pops has already soared to over a thousand dollars. This is insane. In my generation, it was the rare beanie babies that started to have worth; kids would be digging through their collection when they became adults to see if they had picked up any of the rare ones. It seems that the next craze that happened to was Funko Pops—and the value of some is only going to keep climbing.
Personally, I wouldn’t pay that much for a figurine no matter how much I loved the character…
1. They Were Almost Called Funko Force
Yes. Funko Pops were originally called Funko Force 2.0.
The reason for this is that the very original figurines were called Funko Force and when they started to expand, it became Funko Force 2.0—which eventually led to Funko Pops. They’ve always had pretty catchy names—I wouldn’t have been mad about them sticking to Funko Force. The alliteration makes the name sound cute!
So now you’re a little more clued up on the adorable Funko Pops and where they came from, you should go see if you have any of the rare ones. They’ll be worth a fortune someday.