I almost shudder to think of the thousands I’ve spent on toys in the nearly thirty years I have been on the planet. Some of my earliest memories are of digging through cardboard boxes at antiques fairs and finding battered old Star Wars figures and Simpsons toys, so even back then I had an appreciation for colourful plastic toys based on things from pop culture. Adulthood hasn’t halted this appreciation, which is why my living space is cluttered with ‘things’ that many would regard as utter crap. As I write this, my field of view is littered with everything from giant Ninja Turtles action figures to crappy Tiger LCD Double Dragon games, Star Wars Micro Machines and promotional Japanese Final Fantasy Coca-Cola figurines. So with this in mind, if a company was to produce plastic versions of characters from a multitude of TV, movie and video game properties but in a stylized cute and chunky way, theoretically I ought to be first in line to pick some up.
I don’t recall when I first encountered a Funko Pop! Vinyl figure. They feel like they’ve been around forever, and I probably walked past them on shelves for years without even registering their existence, like some reptilian alien race that had infiltrated every level of society without detection. Then one day, boom! The full invading force attacks everywhere at once!
Despite my love of deformed toys like Star Wars Galactic Heroes, Funko Pop! figures just do not appeal to me. I remember a relative telling me years ago that she hated Ninja Turtles as she remembered when they suddenly ‘appeared’ in the late ’80s, and seemed unavoidable. Every store seemed to carry something with a Turtles logo or face on it, and the fact you couldn’t really escape them really pissed her off. I don’t think I’m in the same boat with Funko Pop! figures, but the fact they are everywhere does make them seem a little unappealing to me. How would you even start collecting now? I’m not really into modern Pokémon these days as there are just seem to be too many to have to learn or catch, and the idea that I would have to go and do a bit of homework to learn about them just doesn’t seem appealing or fun.
One of my main gripes with Funko Pop! figures is that they all look so similar, with many figures featuring such little detail that it’s difficult to tell as to who the character even is. Can you guess who these six are supposed to represent?
Okay, so from the top left, it’s Cigarette Smoking Man from The X-Files, Jim Moriarty from Sherlock, Brenner from Stranger Things, Michael Corleone from the Godfather Trilogy, Mouth from Goonies, and Rose Nylund from The Golden Girls.
If you managed to get them all correct, I’m impressed and it perhaps nullifies my argument somewhat, but to me, they all look so unremarkable that identifying them as a famous character from pop culture is nigh on impossible. With characters from fantasy and science fiction themed properties like Star Wars, it’s obviously much easier to identify characters, mainly because their costumes are a lot more remarkable than a man in a smart looking suit (like three of the examples above), but the point I am making is that perhaps if there’s nothing remotely identifiable from the face of the figure, then perhaps there’s something wrong with the overall design of the figure? I’m sure that a lot of effort goes into making each Funko Pop! figure. It just doesn’t look like it with the dead eyed, expressionless faces that denote little personification. I’ve heard a few people criticise the lack of articulation with Funko Pop! figures. Although I have no problem buying toys with limited or no articulation, I think some of the Funko Pops are so lacking in personality that being able to pose them a little would have undoubtedly been a positive.
A criticism I read on House of Geekery a couple of years back was that Pop! Vinyl figures are marketed as a collectable but they aren’t due to the massive amount of numbers they are produced in. To me, the term ‘collectable’ doesn’t necessarily mean something that will hold its value or even be sought after in years to come (Pogs were a collectable I loved as a kid, but they hold little value today). I do wonder if Funko Pop! figures will end up becoming like the Beanie Babies of the ’90s, where people bought loads thinking there would be money to be made with them reselling at a higher price at a later date, but at the same time I think that people are more aware in this day and age that its very hard for anything to really retain its value (let alone increase in value), as everything gets made in such high quantities. With that said, I actually purchased two Funko Pop! figures last year off a car boot sale in England. They were of Cortana and Master Chief from the Halo video game series. I paid £4 for the pair of them, with the intention of perhaps trading them with someone who collected Funko Pop! figures. When I looked on eBay I couldn’t believe the price they went for, so I stuck them on and ended up getting around £120 the pair. So clearly in some instances they do increase in value!
Despite my dislike of Funko Pop figures (I’m dropping the ‘!’ from the ‘Pop’ now as it annoys me) I can’t really expect Funko to change the design of the figures, as they obviously sell ridiculously well, so there must be something that people find appealing. I guess its like meringue. Everyone seems to enjoy the dessert meringue, but since my first mouthful as a kid, I thought it was revolting. So when I see meringue being sold in restaurants and people enjoying eating it, I always feel a little left out as I just can’t enjoy it. Perhaps Funko Pops are a bit like that.
Thankfully my dislike of Funko Pops doesn’t extend to other Funko products. I have mixed feelings about the ReAction figures that I have covered on here before, and I loved the Savage World Mortal Kombat figures that I covered here. I even collect the Mystery Minis, which are undeniably similar to Funko Pops in the sense they are non-articulated, deformed figures, but they just have enough detail to set them apart from the Pops. Perhaps I’m just a hypocrite, prejudiced against one deformed Funko product but accepting of another one, but there a level of detail on the minis that just doesn’t seem to exist on the Pops.
I think I’ve talked about Funko Pop figures enough for one day anyway. If you like ’em, I’m glad. I wish I knew what the appeal was, but I probably never will, and that’s fine. I’m guessing a lot of readers won’t share my love for ’90s micro playsets, so it’s each to their own I guess. It will be interesting to see just how long the Funko Pop ‘craze’ will last, because it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere just yet.