It was 1998 and the year was witnessing the height of the Beanie Baby craze, but all toy collector Mike Becker of Washington state wanted was a Bob’s Big Boy Restaurants coin bank. Failing to find one that was suitable, Becker decided to license the rights to manufacture his own line, and he named his new company Funko.
The Big Boy banks were a commercial failure (specimens in decent condition are available online for about $10 to $15), but a licensing agreement to create bobblehead figures for the Austin Powers movie franchise provided the financial success necessary to underwrite Funko’s first toy line, Wacky Wobbles. Beside Austin Powers, other figures in the line included Tony the Tiger, Betty Boop, The Cat in the Hat, Bob’s Big Boy (of course), and the company’s own mascot Freddy Funko.
The licensing of popular icons past and present proved to be foundational to Funko’s success, and by 2005 the company had grown to such an extent that Becker, desiring to cut back on his workload, sold Funko to Brian Mariotti, the current CEO. (Mike Becker still works for the company as Vice President of Apparel.) Mariotti immediately began expanding the business by introducing new product lines and licensed figures to appeal to all age groups and interests.
The most popular has been the Funko Pop! line of vinyl figures. Introduced in 2010, they are immediately recognizable by their approximate four-inch size, large heads that make up over a third of their bodies, a (usually) missing mouth, and large, black, pupil-less eyes.
It has been reported that Funko has produced over 20 thousand different items, and the Funko Pop! line accounts for at least half of that number. We contacted Funko Support to request exact figures, and this was their response:
Funko Support (Funko)
Dec 8, 2020, 2:31 PM PST
That is a great question! Unfortunately, we don’t quite have the exact number, but when looking in our Funko App under the filter by Brand drop down menu, the number listed for Pop! is 10,239 and 447 is listed for Vinyl.
I hope that helps.
Denise with Funko Support
Those numbers were published last December; in just three months, the number of Pop!s has grown to 10,734!
It takes just 70 days for a Pop! to move from conception to shelf, and with over 1,100 licenses with different companies, Funko does not find it difficult to satisfy the acquisitive natures of fans of pop culture. From The Golden Girls to Game of Thrones, KISS to Queen, Wandavision to Hamilton, Star Wars to Star Trek, and the WWE to Japanese anime – Funko constantly monitors the changing scene. Add to that, limited-edition convention (comic-con, etc.) exclusives and “Chase” variants (less common, randomly issued variations on a standard mold) and it’s not surprising that prices for some specimens have shot through the roof.
Need a few recent examples? How about a Pop! #05 NBA Pau Gasol that sold for $320 after 46 bids? A Glow-in-the-dark Pop! Obi-Wan Kenobi #392 limited edition bobblehead that fetched $470 after 21 bids? Or the Pop! Freddy Funko as Apollo Creed #21 bobblehead that garnered a final bid of $6,000 after 11 bids? Why? Because it was just one of 12 offered at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con!
Would you like to learn more about this Pop!(ular) collectible? Check out the links below, and
Even in the iPhone Age, Funko’s Fast-Moving Toy Business is Thriving (Forbes) – Published just before the Covid shutdown, but just as relevant now.
Funko (Official site) – includes the Funko Fan Club, apps, support, more.
Funko Pop! Vinyl FAQs: Complete Guide to Funko (Hawkin’s Bazaar) – Helpful categories include Starting a Collection, Everything About the Boxes, Glossary of Acronyms, more.
How Aggressively Cute Toys for Adults Became a $686 Million Business (Vox) – Definitely a different take on the collectible.
‘Pop’ Culture: The Incredible Rise of Funko Pop (Rolling Stone) – Entertaining, fact-filled read.
Pop Price Guide – Everything Funko (hobby db) – Part of the Hobby and Collectibles Database