Used to show Funko's logo

What Are Funko Pops and Why Are They the Most Popular Collectibles in America?

What Are Funko Pop! Vinyls?

Used to show Funko's logo for their Pop Vinyl figures
This is what Funko’s logo looks like for their Pop! Vinyl figures, especially on their Pop boxes. Credit to KnowYourMeme

You may have stumbled across a section of a store dedicated to a product called a Funko Pop while shopping at stores like Gamestop or Target. You may be surprised to know that there are many people in America that actually do collect them, including me. I have been collecting them since last summer and so far, I have 42 pops in my collection. So you may be wondering what Funko Pops are and why many people enjoy collecting them.

Funko is a company that manufactures all kinds of pop culture goods, including bobblehead dolls. Their first bobblehead doll was Big Boy, but their Pop! Vinyl figures include characters from most pop culture franchises, from movies to television, comics to video games. Whether you see them on window displays at the mall or grocery stores like Target or Walmart, Funko Pops are basically sold everywhere!

Funko Pops are vinyl figures inspired by characters from movies, pop culture, and real life that have oversized heads and eyes. There are over 8000 different characters and dozens of categories on the market. Funkos have become more popular worldwide in recent years. There are communities around the world that share pictures of their collections with each other.

What Are the Different Funko Brands or Lines?

Used to show another product of Funko
This is what Funko’s vinyl soda figures look like. Credit to Previews World

Funko has a variety of brands and product lines including:

  • Pop! Vinyl is Funko’s most popular brand of collectibles. The Pop! Vinyl line includes both bobbleheads and vinyl figures. There are also Pops with vehicles named Pop! Rides, and famous movie scenes in Pop! form are called a Pop! Moment.
  • Popsies are collectible greetings that feature iconic characters from some of the world’s most popular franchises for a variety of everyday occasions. Each collectible features a celebratory message of love and excitement catered to the occasion. The coolest, and most adorable part, is that the messages pop up at the press of a button. They’re sold exclusively at Walmart.
  • Funko Gold is a line of vinyl figures that focuses on musicians and athletes from the NFL and NBA.
  • Rock Candy is Funko’s brand of 5″ vinyl figures. These figures all come in a cool power pose and feature a stylized aesthetic.
  • Wacky Wobblers is Funko’s line of bobblehead figures. They were also the very first product line!
  • Dorbz is Funko’s line of miniature collectibles. They are all designed to look happy and adorable, hence the name “dorbz”.
  • Mystery Minis are a series of smaller blind-box vinyl figures that have a variety of characters to collect. However, you won’t know which ones you’re getting until you open it, which makes finding the rare ones even more exciting!
  • Vinyl Soda is a line of Funko figures that come in soda-like cans, and they all have limited runs of each figure.
  • Pop! Pin is a collection of enamel pins made by Funko. They’re small pin versions of their popular Pop! Vinyl line.

What Types of Funko Pops Are There?

Used to show different sizes and forms of Funko's products
This chart shows the different sizes and shapes that different Funko products have. Credit to Funko

Funkos by Category

The number of different Funko Pop categories is mindblowing. However, the most popular categories are Harry Potter, Marvel, DC, Disney, Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Pop! Rocks, Pop! Games, Pop! Animation, Pop! Movies, Pop! Television, Pop! Icons, and Pop! Sports. The complete list of categories can be found on popvinyls.com.

Funkos by Size

There are also different sizes of Funko Pop figures. The most common are the tiny ones that are 4″, but there are also 6″ and even 10″ pops.

Funkos by Finish

Sepia– these Funkos have the sepia tone

Black and white– there are some Funkos out there with this retro design

Invisible– thanks to this finish, these Funko figures look like they’re invisible

Metallic– you can also find metallic Funko Pops on the market

Translucent– this category is very similar to ‘invisible’ Pops. However, these pops are slightly different.

Flocked- These figures are covered in soft, fuzzy fibers. The fibers are tiny and feel like felt.

Glossy– these Funkos have a nice glossy finish or different colors

Glow in the dark- these Funkos are made to glow in the dark

What Are Funko Pops Made Of?

Used to show a Funko pop
This is a really cool example of how Funko Pops can be used in photography. Credit to Pixabay

Funko Pops are called “Funko Pop! Vinyl” for a reason. Since these figures are made of vinyl, specifically polyvinyl chloride or PVC, they’re made from the same material used to make pipes, flooring, clothing, and, of course, vinyl records. Vinyl is a form of plastic, so you could also say that Funko Pops are made of plastic!

What Are Pop! Vinyl “Chase” Figures?

Used to show what Chase stickers look like
This is what the chase stickers look like for Funko’s Pop! Vinyls. Credit to Pop Price Guide

Some Pop! Vinyl figures include a “chase” figure, which is a special variation of the regular figure. This variant can have different colors, accessories, or poses. Not every figure has a chase variant- but of those that do, approximately 1 in 6 figures is a chase. This means that chase figures are more rare and desirable than the common ones. Pop! Vinyl figures are already collectible, but some of them are super collectible!

What Are Exclusive Funko Pop Figures?

Used to show what a Funko pop exclusive for Hot Topic looks like
This is what Hot Topic’s Funko pop exclusive sticker looks like. Credit to Shop Local

“Exclusive” means that a pop may only be available at a certain location. Pops are sold through retailers like Walgreens, Hot Topic, and Amazon. Sometimes, a retailer will have an exclusive right to a particular model or variation of a character. Other Pops will only be available at special events like Comic Con and similar gatherings.

What Does It Mean When a Pop! Vinyl Gets “Vaulted”?

Used to show a vaulted Funko pop
This is an example of a Funko Pop that has been vaulted, which is the Andy Bernard pop from The Office, that was exclusive to Target. Credit to Breakninja

You may have heard of Pop! Vinyl figures getting “vaulted”, which makes you imagine bobbleheads getting sealed away in banks or something like that. In actuality, it really means that the specific figure is being discontinued and won’t be available to purchase anymore. For collectors, that’s really good news because it means the figures will become scarce over time. Which means they may go up in value.

What Is the Most Valuable Funko Pop! Figure?

Used to show a Funko pop
This is what the San Diego Comic-Con exclusive metallic Dumbo Funko pop looks like. Credit to CamelCamelCamel

It’s not easy to answer this question. Since we’re talking about collectibles, the value always depends on what collectors are willing to pay, which fluctuates over time. But the most valuable and rarest Pop! figures are typically San Diego Comic-Con exclusives because they only produce several hundred or thousand of those figures. For example, the Comic-Con metallic Dumbo figure has been sold several times for $5000 or more. The headless Ned Stark figure, also a Comic-Con exclusive, has recently increased in value and now regularly sells for over $2000.

Why Start Collecting Funko Pops?

Used to show a Funko Pop collection
Harry Potter, being one of the most popular movie franchises, has its own line of Funko pop figures. Credit to Harry Potter Pop! Vinyls

The question is, why should you even start collecting Funkos? The answer is not so simple. Many people simply fall in love with some characters from certain movies. Do you remember the first time you saw Thor, Harry Potter, Forrest Gump, etc.? Imagine owning your favorite character as a little vinyl figure you put on a shelf in your bedroom.

However, if you think you’re gonna get rich by collecting Funko Pops in the short term, the effect can be quite the opposite. Collecting doesn’t come cheap, and the value of Funko Pops doesn’t grow as quickly as you’d like. One tip when starting out your own collection is to make sure you set a budget, otherwise, you could be spending hundreds of dollars on figures, without even realizing it.

Where to Buy Funko Pops?

Used to show the Funko section of a store
This is an example of what Target’s Funko section looks like. Credit to Pop Collectors Alliance

Buying Funko Pops is easy, especially if you live in the United States. The United States is Funko’s biggest market, so the selection of Pops is much broader. There are also limited editions of Funko Pops that are available for purchase in US stores only. Limited editions can be found in Walmart, Target, Hot Topic, BoxLunch, Barnes & Noble, Walgreens, etc.

If you come from outside America, there is a high chance you can buy Funkos from local online toys, comics, and game stores. However, if you can’t find the exact Funko Pop you’re looking for, don’t be afraid to look for alternatives. It’s very easy to find some among other collectors or other countries.

Fake vs. Real Funko Pops

Used to show fake vs real Funko pops
This is an example of a Funko pop that has a real version and a fake version. Credit to Imgur

If you or someone you know has ever bought a Funko Pop, you may have heard that there are fakes on the market. Or you’ve probably seen one on eBay for a bargain, but something seems weird about the pictures. Everyone worries sometimes whether what they’re buying is the real thing or not. Like many other toy lines, Funko suffers from fraudsters producing knockoffs.

The problem is that these fakes are getting harder and harder to spot. The molding and printing techniques used by counterfeiters are far more sophisticated than in the past.

How do you spot a fake Funko Pop? There are many things to consider. Where you bought it, how much you paid, the box art, serial numbers, packaging, how well the Pop was molded and painted, and more.

To make things easier, check out this list of 10 ways to tell if the pop you’re buying is real or fake:

The Place You Bought Your Funko Pop From

Knowing where you bought your Pop from is a good indication of whether it’s fake or not. If you’re buying Pops from online sites such as Amazon, Pop in a Box, or Funko’s official website, then you have nothing to worry about because they’re all trusted sites. Other safe places to buy from are many Funko Pop Facebook groups because the community on these group chats is amazing and people are always eager to offer advice and help with any Pop problem.

The Price You Paid for Your Funko Pop

The price you pay for a pop is a very good indication of whether it’s genuine or not. This topic of discussion is really relevant if you’re purchasing from sites like eBay or dodgy Facebook sellers. Most people who sell Funko Pops on eBay know how much their pops are worth. If someone is selling a rare Pop that you’re looking for, then it’ll cost a lot of money. It’s always natural to shop around to see if you can get the same pop for less.

The Funko Pop Box Is in Poor Condition Due to Delivery

This is a gray area. Most reputable sellers of Funko Pop (and other toy collectibles) know that the whole package is important for display purposes, so your item will be properly packaged to avoid damage, as one would expect. However, sometimes if you buy on eBay or from private sellers, the seller may cut corners and not package it as thoroughly. Boxes can get bent or torn. In this case, you can usually get it sent back, replaced, or refunded. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re selling fakes, you just have to be careful of who you’re buying from.

The Funko Pop Box Is Poorly Made

This is an obvious one. Cheap fakes say a lot about the quality of the box and packaging. If the cardboard material of the box is flimsy, very thin, or has a very glossy sheen to it, then it’s likely a knockoff. Also, if the plastic window is really thin (deforms if you breathe it in), it’s a fake.

The real inner packaging of a Funko Pop is designed to hold the Pop in place, even if it slips out of the box. If it opens and the Pop falls out, it’s not real. Funko boxes are pretty tough and durable, with the packaging on the outside and inside designed to protect the pop for years to come. At the end of the day, it is a collector’s item.

The Funko Pop Box Art Is Different from the Website

This is important but easy to spot, provided you use a website with official images of the design and box art, so you can compare and contrast what you have. However, this is only really relevant when you have the box on hand- for example, if you buy a Pop online that is fake, they are likely using pre-existing images, so always ask for photos if possible.

The main tells of the box art and design is straightforward stuff like the colors used on the box, the fonts used for printing, especially the licensing of particular brands or logos. Also, if it is a special edition, check that the sticker is the same, font type, and design because, believe it or not, these are faked too.

Check if the size of the main image is correct- some are slightly too big and the white outline around the figure is thin- the fakes are chunky and even. Also, the header box and footer box-sizing have a uniform size for Pop Vinyls.

The Funko Pop Box Doesn’t Have Licensing Agreements Printed

As mentioned above regarding the box art and design, licensing agreements, logos and fonts should all be there but are likely to be missing or altered on fake Funkos. The brand logo should be on the top header of the box.

On the back, it should be above the name of the Pop in the box (above the rest of the collection that’s printed). Also, it will be on the bottom of the back side of the box- brand, logo,  date, etc.

The Funko Pop Figure Doesn’t Have a Serial Number Printed on It

That’s a big one. The pop figure should have a serial number printed on it. This means it should be the same serial number that’s on the bottom of the box. This serial number will either be on the bottom of the foot or at the bottom of the head in a colored print- white, black, red, etc.- so that it’s clearly visible. If it doesn’t have a serial number, then it’s a fake.

The Funko Pop Is Missing the Licensing Details

Similar to the box, the licensing agreements should be on the foot of the Pop! Vinyl figure or at the bottom of the head. If it isn’t, then it’s a fake.

The Pop’s Molding Quality Is Poor

It depends on whether it’s a really old pop or a recent one. The old Pop’s molding was really basic. The pops had a uniform stance, arms to the side, and arced legs. The newer ones are more dynamic and detailed, mainly due to the continuous improvements in the plastic molds used.

It’s hard to tell alone by the molding on an old Pop if it’s fake or not, but you can check out other ways on this list to catch it. Newer pops have great molding and some are very detailed. Fakes are getting better and better. However, comparing stock photos to the fake pops, you can see some differences in contouring, edges, and specific details related to that figure. It’s always a good idea to check the photos of pops from stock photos and pictures of others who are collecting the same ones.

The Painting Quality Of the Pop Is Poor

Similar to the molding above, the old Pop’s paint jobs were not particularly great. Newly painted pops are amazing. However, you can run into quality control issues even with Funko, where paint is on parts it shouldn’t be, but this is very minimal.

Indications of fake pops are clear when you can see that areas have not been painted the right color, or correctly. For example, hairlines on the rear of the figure have been poorly painted (patches missing) or not painted at all in some cases. Also, the bottom of the feet that have not been painted are signs of forgery.

Why Are Funko Pops So Popular, Especially Here in America?

Purely decorative
Funko’s game Pop! Blintz has concept figures of well-known people in American history like Abraham Lincoln and Ben Franklin. Credit to Pocket Gamer

Replica plastic figurines with giant heads and big eyes of your favorite characters and pop culture figures. It may not sound new, but Funko, who has become globally famous for selling exactly that, has reinvented the wheel when it comes to fandom merchandise.

Like with many other collectibles, it’s very easy to become obsessed with Funko Pops. It’s not uncommon for a collector to own hundreds of Funko Pops, all of which are proudly displayed and (potentially) boxed. Just how, exactly did Funko Pops get so popular though? Three main reasons why they’re popular include affordability, nostalgia, and longevity.

Affordability

Funko Pops are cheap. However, that’s not a bad thing. Due to its low price point, it’s simply more accessible for fans of the franchise. So much so, that people can easily give Funko Pops as gifts.

The number of Funko Pops is widespread, with over 10,000 figures on the market. With so many Funko products on store shelves, Funko isn’t slowing down anytime soon! Even better, Funko figures have great discounts! I’m sure you’ve been in stores and seen Funko Pops on clearance or have discounts.

Nostalgia

Funko was originally called Funko Force 2.0, but the cool thing about them is that they still exist today. However, you won’t get them brand new, and they’re tough to get hold of due to their rarity. Why? Because the original models were vaulted long ago. In other words, Funko no longer produces them.

The primary difference between new Pops and old Pops is the difference in cylindrical packaging. However, what you might not notice (which may surprise you) is that these models were traditional bobbleheads. While today, you may sometimes still get the occasional bobblehead Funko, most modern figures have lost that charm.

Longevity

As you know, and as I’ve mentioned, all Funko Pops are eventually vaulted. When they are, they naturally increase in price. Why? The less that are available on the market, the more in demand they become.

Now imagine if you had bought a Funko Force 2.0 on the first day they were sold. Your toy would be really valuable and worth $2070. That’s why you should invest in a Funko Pop.

Funko Pops Are Released All Year Round

Purely decorative
This is what the logo looks like for Funko Fair 2022. Credit to The Pop Insider

They are growing in popularity and can be an extremely attractive and valuable investment. It’s no secret that Funko Inc. keeps releasing pops: #FunkoFair is a great example of a virtual event where they showcase concept pops that are already made and available for pre-order at local stores. Stores like Gamestop, Target, Walmart, and Amazon update their websites to feature new promotions around these pop figures. All the time.

Funko is good at doing licensing deals with assets it doesn’t own. It feels like the company literally works with everyone. Disney, Sony, NFL, HBO, Amazon, and more than 200 other content providers have been working with Funko since 2019. Thanks to all the savvy business practices that have made these connections possible, there are Pops for almost anything and everyone in the world.

This includes fandoms that typically sell merchandise, such as comic books, video games, and cartoons. But Funko Pops go even further in these areas, from capitalizing on hit shows like WandaVision to gaming franchises like Super Mario Bros. to popular anime like Demon Slayer. There are also Funk0 Pops of other icons, like Conan O’Brian, Whitney Houston, and characters from The Office. There’s even a Kool-Aid Man Pop.

Funko Pops are cheap to make and usually sell for less than $15. Paying only 16% royalties on the properties they license, Funko has been making a steady profit from its products. Because Funko usually has limited quantities of each character, their products sell out quickly and there’s always a demand for more.

Conclusion

Used to show a Funko pop I collected
This is what one of the Fruits Basket characters (Tohru Honda) looks like, as an adorable Funko pop! Credit to The Cardboard Connection

In conclusion, collecting Funko Pops (or any of their other products) can be a really fun and enjoyable hobby for people to have, especially here in America. Whenever I go to a store in my nearest mall, like Hot Topic or Gamestop, I usually see other people buying their favorite Funko Pops, whether jumbo or normal sized, which proves that there is a demand for it where I live.

I collect a wide variety of Funko Pops, such as anime, Disney, and TV shows like The Office, Schitt’s Creek, and Parks and Recreation. Out of everything that I have collected so far, my favorite figures in my collection are the characters from my favorite anime series, Fruits Basket (2019). The main reason why they’re my favorite is that it’s the only complete collection of a franchise that I have. So if anyone out there is interested in starting their own collection of Funko Pops, then I definitely recommend only collecting your favorite characters, so that you don’t spend all of your money on these vinyl figures!

Leave a Reply